quips and tips for achieving your goals

8 Money Saving Tips for College Students – Beyond the Basics

If you’re a college student with the usual financial concerns, you need these money savings tips! They go beyond the basics – they’re from financial advisor and author Randy Loren.

Before the tips, a quip:

“Success produces success, just as money produces money.” ~ Diane Ackerman.

The more you save money, the more money you’ll have to save! Achieving your financial goals is an upward spiral — but first you have to get that spiral started. If you struggle with financial debt and money management, you might find Money Management for College Students helpful.



And, here are eight money saving tips from Randy Loren, author of Climbing the Money Mountain: The Young Adult’s Guide to Reaching Your Financial Peak.

8 Money Saving Tips for College Students

1. Be aware of how instant gratification foils financial goals. The biggest mistake college students — especially teenagers – make about money is wanting instant gratification. Teens want money now, and seem to care less about waiting until supply economics drives the cost down. Take the iPod phone: it was originally $499 when it came out; now, you can get the phone at ATT for $99. To save money, college students need to balance saving and spending money. They need to train themselves to save money for their future or for a rainy day.

2. Learn to budget your money. Make a budget to understand and see how you spend your money each month. Budget is not a four-letter word — it’s an effective money saving tip! Done well, budgeting can help you be creative and flexible with your money and achieve your financial goals. Budgeting will help you decrease financial stress, afford big-ticket items, and make the most of your earnings.

3. Get your money growing. If you start saving a little money each month, your money will grow and grow and grow. The Motley Fool website has an instant calculator that shows how much your savings will be worth over time. Start saving money as a college student — when you’re young – with an IRA, Roth IRA, or other type of investment. Let years of compound interest make you wealthy and well prepared to achieve your financial goals.

4. Defer short-term material wants to achieve your long-term goals. You don’t always have to be the first to own something new! Wait a little while until the excitement subsides, and then determine if you really wanted it in the first place. An important money saving tip for college students is to realize that we often spend money on stuff, only to realize later that it wasn’t important.

5. Invest in your future earning power. Getting a college education will increase your credibility and skills, which will help you earn money in the future. College students have a strong foundation for salaries and work promotions — which includes being less likely to be unemployed when recessions hits.

6. Start a no-fee bank account. If you haven’t opening up a savings account (with an ATM card) or a checking account (with a debit card), now’s the time. Learn how to record deposits and withdrawals, use the ATM, write checks, use the debit card, and balance your monthly account. At the very least, get a savings account and an ATM card so you’ll have your own gas money.

7. Be a smart consumer. Here’s a way to save money for college students that many adults don’t know: learn how to negotiate for a better price on goods and services. Also, learn how to comparison shop. You can stretch a dollar by being a smart shopper — buying used or factory refurbished items, getting “off” brands, waiting for sales, asking for scratch and dent specials, etc.

8. Focus on setting and achieving your money goals. The main reason college students get into financial trouble – such as too much debt, no retirement money, no insurance — is because they failed to set and keep their goals. Work with a counselor or financial mentor to set career, salary, lifestyle, and financial goals — and then set stepping-stone goals to help you succeed.

For more tips, read How to Get Money for School – From Passive Income to Sharper Vision.

Randy Loren is motivational speaker in South Florida, who educates high school students about financial literacy and sound money and work practices.

8 Reader Comments

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  1. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

    Great question, Charles! I think it’s not just college students who struggle with the immediate gratification of spending money — it’s adults, too. That’s why we have so much debt as a nation.

    I also think that different people have different ways to overcome the instant gratification that spending money brings. For instance, some people find it effective to focus on saving money for a vacation. Others need to give their money to parents or trusted friends, so they don’t spend it!

    The best way to save money for college students or anyone is to know your personality, and keep trying things until you find what works. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers.

  2. Charles Tran says:

    Thanks for the tips, instant gratification is something we all struggle with.

    How do you suggest we overcome the *emotional* desire for instant gratification (besides the rational argument)? Any tips?

  3. Katherine says:

    My daughter is also at university and I have to admit it is a worrying time. She has a few things that she says she can’t live/study without including her trusty laptop and her binding machine but aside from that the rest of her money seems so far to be wisely spent on food, accommodation etc.

    I fear that after a short period of time with her friends at uni that she will start to fall into bad habits as I know I did (!) but this post is interesting and I will pass it along to her in a bid to help her understand how important it is to stay sensible with her spending…

  4. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

    Thanks for your comment, Holly — I hope these tips for saving money for college studetns are helpful! Some of them take time and patience to implement, but it’s worth it…

  5. Holly says:

    These are really great money saving tips. My daughter is currently a student and is finding it tough to manage her money while studying so all tips are greatly appreciated :)

    She has a few must-haves that as a student she can’t do without including internet access and a good laptop but apart from that she is careful with what she spends her money on – yet still finds it hard work to juggle studying and not getting into debt… All of the above ideas are really interesting and it will be good to see if she can make it work a little easier by implementing them!

  6. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, April — your money saving tips are great.

    I think the hardest part about saving money is that it takes time and effort. It’s easier to buy the first item you see instead of shopping for something generic or cheaper.

    But it’s a habit that you can develop, and even learn to enjoy :-)

  7. April says:

    Definitely be a smart consumer!! Instead of brand name products, buy generic products. Instead of contract cell phones, buy prepaid TracFone. Those two tips will help you save so much money! Buy buying generic brand products, you save a little at a time but it definitely adds up. By getting off your contract phone, you save much money a month! With a TracFone prepaid phone, you buy only the mintues that you need as opposed to spending a ton of money on minutes that you’re not going to use. There isn’t an activation, overage, or cancellation fee either.

    Those tips are definitely great for college students.

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