Help Me I’m Poor – College on a Budget

“Help Me I’m Poor” has never seemed more appropriate. (If you haven’t seen Bridesmaids, shame on you – go watch it and come back so you can properly laugh at that reference). Welcome to college! You have absolutely no money and lots of places you want to spend it! That’s what the banner should really say when freshmen arrive at orientation.

College is absolutely filled with tempting places to spend money; Late night pizzas ordered to the dorm, shopping at new stores in your college town, buying drinks at bars without realizing how much you’ve spent until you close out your tab…Money seems to be everywhere but in your wallet in college.

Here are some of my favorite tips for saving money in college while still having a good time.

1. Avoid eating out at restaurants. Your parents shelled out a lot of money for you to have a meal plan, and while sometimes it may not exactly be gourmet, it feels free because its already paid for! (I call it monopoly money). You wouldn’t go to a restaurant, pay for the food and then not eat it, would you? While it’s obviously tempting to eat at your favorite guilty pleasure spots as much as you can because your parents can’t stop you – do your best to avoid it. It will also help you keep from gaining weight, because yes, ordering pizza for the fifth time this week really will start to show in more places than your wallet. (You can still treat yourself from time to time, but keep it down to a couple times a month!)

2. If you go to a school where you can go to bars (Miami lets you go to bars if you’re 18) drink before you go. Its cheaper, safer, and just all around smarter.

3. Utilize student discounts. It would blow your mind how many restaurants and stores offer student discounts that most people don’t even know about! This is a great list of some of the restaurants that offer them, and here is one for some of my favorite clothing stores!

4. Save your leftovers! For those times you do go out to eat or cave and order that extra pizza (don’t worry I’m not judging), don’t throw it away! Cold pizza and microwaved leftovers are a rite of passage in college and definitely a good way to save a little cash.

5. Say goodbye to Starbucks. Buy a coffeemaker and suck it up – you’re gonna need a lot of caffeine in college and if you’re dishing out 3-5 dollars every time you do you’ll be completely broke by midterms. Welcome to college life! It’s super yummy…Maybe if your parents really love you they’ll buy you a Keurig. My roommate got one last year and I pretty much fell in love with her parents because of it, and all I used it for was hot chocolate…

6. Share clothes with your friends! You now live right next door to all of your best friends, and their closets. Use it! All of my friends would stare at their closets screaming about how they have nothing to wear while four other people were looking at their clothes like it was a gold mine. Just make sure you’re lending to people who will treat your clothes with care, and be sure you do the same!

7. Don’t fall for the textbook trap. Textbooks have to be the biggest scam in the world. Don’t even bother buying your textbooks until you’ve been to the first class; I promise you won’t need it the first day. (And if you do…have fun with that teacher.) Sometimes teachers end up telling you that they don’t even plan on using that book! Then you’re out $400 dollars with a shiny new textbook gathering dust in your desk. When you do go to buy a textbook, use Amazon or try to rent one or borrow from a friend. Literally thousands of dollars will be saved and your parents (and wallet) will be eternally grateful. When you’re done, sell your book back to Amazon!

8. DO dish out the extra cash and pay for damage insurance on your expensive electronics like your laptop. Even if you’re the most careful person in the world, the sleep-deprived caffeine addict next to you in the library may not be, and you’ll be more than furious when they knock over a coffee and the bill lands in your lap. Definitely a price worth paying.

What are your money-saving tips for college?

Don’t forget to check out my other favorite and most popular back-to-school edition posts, too!

Essentials for a Preppy College Closet

Have You Ordered Your Planner Yet This Year?!

The Ultimate Guide to Bean Boots vs. Hunter Boots

College Studying Tips

Essential Apps for College Students

The Perfect Totes for Class & Campus


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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Valerie Casey
    July 22, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    Probably, the reason why it’s more tempting to spend money in college is because of the newly-found freedom that comes with being on your own, and that means you’re finally free to spend money on things that your parents won’t let you. In that case, no wonder there are students who totally go broke during their college years. The key is slowing down and plotting your expenses wisely, and of course, holding to your discipline as much as you can.

    Valerie Casey @ Studemont Group CFS

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