How to Save Money in College (and Still Have Fun)
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Books, bills, tuition, repeat. With the new school year already well underway – and the holiday season around the corner – college students are feeling the familiar dread of choosing the money-saving option of cheap takeout (again) or getting food with friends off campus (don’t forget those masks!).
Whether it’s starting a side hustle, researching free events on campus, or taking advantage of a few must-have student discounts, here are a few ways you can cut down on your spending without cutting into your social life to save money in college.
Explore free events on campus (or in your area)
Finding ways to save money in college doesn’t have to be scary—you can still have fun. Keeping your eyes and ears open to things going on around campus or events in your area is the perfect way to find free activities, because who doesn’t like free things? Take some time to stop by your campus event center, log into your school’s online portal, or do a quick Google search to find activities like free Museum days or local park events that are fun and won’t cost you a dime.
If you need help exploring happenings in your city, apps like All Events in City allow you to search for different free (and virtual!) activities. If being outdoors is your thing, apps like AllTrails helps you find hiking trails, camping sites, and biking paths in your area – and it won’t cost you a thing.
Host a game night or potluck
Between drinks, food, and everything in between, going out can add up quickly. So, why not bring the party home? Hosting a game night can be fun and budget-friendly! Whether you do a virtual game night with friends over Zoom or keep it casual with a few friends in-person, don’t forget to follow your school’s guest guidelines during COVID.
Tip: Always remember to be mindful of your neighbors. Noise fines or tickets are definitely not in the budget and could cause a major financial setback.
Start a side hustle to earn money in college.
There’s no college degree required to start your own business or side hustle. Whether your goal is to save money in college or pay off your student loans early, starting a side hustle that’s fun for you can help you earn and save some money in college while also practicing what you love – especially one with little to no cost upfront.
Are you good at creating websites? Use your networking skills to connect with professionals or businesses in your local area to see if they need help launching their own website. Maybe you learned a new skill like embroidery or crochet in quarantine – you can start an Etsy shop to sell your crafts. If you’re interested in starting a side hustle but not too sure which direction to go, get more ideas from students with our latest blog post.
Use your student discounts
From Amazon Prime© to Apple Music©, there are student discounts everywhere. You can get deals like 50% off a Premium plan with Evernote, a free Office 365 package, or other student deals with Best Buy for all the tech you’ll need. Don’t know where to start looking? We’ve got you covered! Check out these must-have student discounts we put together; you’ll thank us later. Don’t forget to bring your student ID with you wherever you go and take advantage of those discounts while you can.
Learn a free hobby
While you might think starting a hobby has to cost money, it doesn’t. There are so many free activities you can do to stay entertained. Whether it’s running, hiking, drawing, or starting a book club with your friends (and checking out books for free from your campus library!), it shouldn’t cost you a dime to learn something new. If you’re still struggling to find something you enjoy, check out this list of 15 free hobbies.
Finding something you enjoy doing every day will help you save money in college and maybe even help you de-stress from the pressure of school. You might even consider safely inviting a few friends over to learn a new hobby too.
Volunteer your time
Volunteering is an often underrated, free way to do something enjoyable while contributing to a worthy cause. Do you love dogs? Apply to volunteer at your local animal shelter. If you’re more interested in positively influencing people, offer to be a mentor or tutor. Do your research online or talk to some campus clubs to see if there are any volunteering opportunities you can join. If you need more inspiration, here are 7 ways to volunteer as a college student.
College is often remembered as the “best years” of your life, a mantra that can pressure students into overspending to ensure they’re getting the most out of it. Don’t forget that experiences are more important than things, and you can have plenty of free, valuable experiences that you’ll look back on for years to come.