Frugal Living: College Life and How to Save

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Written by Kazz Laidlaw

When you compound the money spent on tuition, room and board, transportation, textbooks, and fun (re: alcohol), college is one of the most expensive things in life outside of having and raising a child. Some college students are blessed in having parents with deep pockets, but the majority of us are avidly seeking ways to cut costs anywhere possible. Here are some of the ways you can do that on a daily basis:

Buy Groceries and eat at home.

In college, food is one of our biggest expenses. Having the proper number of meals per day is a struggle when you have a full course load, a job, org activities, and a social life to top it off. Fast food is tempting when you’re on the go, but it’s just as expensive as it is unhealthy. Buying grocery and eating at home will save you money on food from restaurants and meal plans, and leaves your kitchen stocked to make last minute meals before you leave the house.

Buy with others.

Everything is cheaper when you’re not the only one putting up money. This is a great method when buying grocery and other house items with your roommates, but it applies to virtually everything else too. If you’re planning to buy alcohol (or other party favors) for a long weekend, have a friend pitch in with you—you’re not going to drink it all yourself!

Buy used textbooks, rent them, or find them online.

The cost of college textbooks has risen about 6%per year in the past ten years. The average college student spends anywhere between $300 and $1000 on textbooks per semester. Depending on how many textbooks you need, you could end up spending thousands on textbooks per year. Buying used or rented textbooks could slash your costs in half and online prices are usually far more competitive than on campus bookstores.

Take public transportation.

If you have a car on campus, you pay for a parking pass, gas, and car maintenance. Parking passes alone are hundreds of dollars per semester and when you add in weekly gas and maintenance expenses, cars are pretty costly. Taking public transportation, like campus buses or trains, to and from school, work, and other places can keep a lot more cash in your pocket.

Stay in occasionally.

Nights out are always fun and relieve stress, but if you’re not careful they can be expensive too— especially if you’re not making sober decisions about money. (I’ve spent paychecks on “drunchies” before.) Cut back on partying or shows every weekend, and save some money!


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