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23 Tips On How To Save Money In College

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Going off to college is stressful enough, throw in the factor of having to pay for housing, food, books, and other necessities and you may be wondering how you are going to survive.

Gone are the times were you would have to pick up a second job or live in a run down apartment just to make ends meet. With today’s technology, you can easily make and save hundreds of dollars right from your smartphone.

Today we are going to look at 23 ways you can live more frugal as a college student. These tips will include ways to not only save money from your smartphone, but also make money! Keep in mind that many of these tools can be used together to double your savings or profits.

1. Earn Extra Money By Filling Out Online Surveys

If you have a smartphone and a few minutes to spare throughout your day, you could be earning some easy money by filling out online surveys!

There are many different apps that will pay you to simply take a survey through their smartphone app. Sound too good to be true? Try these few apps out for yourself and watch the money start to roll in! These apps include:

2. Make Money By Investing Your Change From Every Purchase

College students are going to spend money, there is no secret about that, but are they saving money? I know, “How can I save money if I barely have any?”

Before debit cards and Apple Pay were so popular, most college students had to use cash for everyday purchases. This made setting aside your change at the end of the day easy as most would just throw it into a piggy bank when they get home.

With debit cards, this is much harder due to the fact that you never see the actual money being spent and have no physical change left over. That is where Acorns, a smartphone investing app, comes in.

Acorns takes your spare change from every debit card purchase and invests it into stock options of your choice. This helps build a savings account and help make you extra money without having to even think about it.

3. Save Money On Your Grocery Bills

Moving out on your own also means having to do your own grocery shopping. Unless you are lucky enough to have your parents pay for it, that grocery bill will be coming out of your pocket.

Many college students quickly learn just how expensive this can be during their first trip to the grocery store.

Years ago, college kids would opt for cutting out coupons and saving money instantly on their food purchases. With the advancements in technology, apps like IbottaShopkick, Makeena, & Fetch Rewards, allow you to earn cash back on grocery items, straight from your cell phone.

Similar to coupons, you can see which items are being promoted for cash back and click to choose them. Once you check out, simply scan the barcode and your receipt and your savings are deposited into your account.

Once you reach the $20.00 threshold, you can redeem your cashback through Paypal or an assortment of different gift cards.

4. Get Cash Back When Shopping Online Using A Shopping Portal

It’s hard to not find a college student who is not taking advantage of the convenience of online shopping. With delivery times becoming faster and the lower cost of brick and mortar stores, online businesses have become wildly successful.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you got to earn cash back on your online purchases just for shopping? You guess it! There are smartphone apps for that!

Swagbucks – Swagbucks is a large site that offers many different ways for users to earn Swagbucks, their currency that can be traded in for cash or gift cards. Through their many different partnerships with major retailers, consumers can access shopping portals that allow anywhere from 1-10% cash back on purchases on the site just by using the portal.

Ebates – eBates is another site that allows its users to earn cash back from filling out surveys, watching videos, and most importantly, using a shopping portal. We have seen some offers extend up to 30% cash back on eBates from various companies.

TopCashback – The last on our list, but certainly not least is a site called TopCashback. This site is another shopping portal offering big cashback rewards from large companies. You can also find up to date coupon codes as well!

5. Make Extra Money With Cash Back Credit Cards

With most college students being teenagers who are moving out for the first time, financial stability is not always a quality that most have. Being hours away from home and suffering from a broken down car with no money is both a student’s and a parent’s worst nightmare.

That is why more and more college students are turning to credit cards to help them in the case of an emergency.

While this is a popular option, many just do with the first card that they can find. This is where you can do a little bit of research and find out which credit cards offer the most rewards.

Sometimes you will get lucky and find a credit card offering twice the rewards your first year! Most credit card rewards can be redeemed for cash back, gift cards, or even miles that can be used to fund a trip back home for the holidays.

6. Download A Money Managing App

To save more money, you will need to start managing your money better. This means looking at what you are spending your money on, cutting out unnecessary expenses, and budgeting your money.

While you could look at your bank account statements for hours and try to sift through your expenses, many college students have the time or patience to do so.

You can easily let a smartphone app do the heavy lifting with an app like Mint. Mint is an all in one money managing app designed to help you take control of your finances.

This app can help you set budgets, pay your bills, and check your credit score to keep your money managed and help you develop better financial habits to become more frugal.

7. Take Advantage Of Reward Programs & Email Lists

While you are shopping online making some cash back on your purchases with one of the portals above, make sure to sign up for the company’s reward program and email list.

Many large retailers offer incentive programs that reward you after a certain amount of purchases or dollar amount spent. This can be an easy way to rack up points or get a free meal.

Always check your email as well as companies love to send out coupon codes or promotions through email which could mean big savings for your next shopping trip!

8. Find The Best Deals On Gas With A Fuel Saving App

Let’s face it, gas prices are never what we want them to be, but that doesn’t mean you can’t save money on your next fill up. With thousands of gas stations all over town, the prices at each are not going to be the same.

This means you can take advantage of the competition of the lowest prices and fill up where gas prices are the cheapest. We know you do not have time to run all over town to find the lowest price, so we are going to give you a little insight on a handy fuel app you can use.

Trunow is one of our favorite apps as it not only lets you find the lowest priced gas in your town, it also give you cash back on fuel purchases and allows you to find money saving deals on snack purchases at the gas station.

You can even help update prices for an extra bonus! That’s right, you can save money and make money all in one app doing things you normally do.

9. Save Money On Dining & Events By Taking Advantage Of Promotions

As a college student, it may be hard to get out and enjoy a nice dinner or activity without worrying about overspending. To keep yourself sane during those crazy final weeks, you will want to find some kind of activity to relieve some stress and treat yourself to a good time.

How can you do this if you are on a budget you ask?

That is where apps like Groupon and Living Social come into play. These apps allows you to get cashback, save instantly, and even get free experiences with group buying. Choose from restaurants, events, retail items, and many more deals.

The best part is, whenever you need to get an oil change, do some shopping, or look for something to eat, you can always check these sites for the best deals to save big!

We have even seen these sites offer a promotion where you can share your deal, and if 3 more people buy it, yours is free!

10. Make Extra Money Selling Your Unused Items

Now that you know a few ways to save some money that you may have otherwise spent, let’s look at a surefire way to make some cash. The easiest way to make money is to either work more, which you most likely don’t have the extra time for, or sell your unused items using an app on your phone.

Simply find out what you are not using anymore, snap a good clear photo of it, upload it to an app like 5 Miles or LetGo, and wait for a buyer.

These apps act as an online marketplace that allows users to sell items to other users. You can find or sell just about anything on these apps so be sure to check it out if you are about to make a purchase and would not mind a second hand item.

Life Hack: You can also make some extra income finding cheap items for sell on the app, buying them, and reselling on the app for a higher price. Many people do this for a living and have great success with it.

The only downfall of this is that you will have to meet up with the person selling this item so always take a friend with you and meet in a very public place.

11. Find Coupon Codes To Save On Online Purchases

If you are an avid online shopper or even just starting to shop online, you know how easy it is to breeze through the checkout process. In fact, that is why many people choose to shop online, for the convenience.

What many don’t know is that there could be coupon codes available for you to use on your purchases that you are making, and you don’t have to be on a special mailing list to get them.

You can find all of the latest discount codes for most online stores by checking out RetailMeNot, the internet’s favorite coupon code site.

This site offers coupon codes, cash back deals, and much more to help it’s users save money on their purchases everyday.

By working with thousands of the top retailers, RetailMeNot is able to offer exclusive deals through their shopping portal that allow you to save hundreds and even thousands of dollars a year.

12. Get Cashback + Save Money At Your Favorite Local Retailers

As a college student, you are going to need to do some type of shopping throughout your stay on or off campus. This can range from outfitting your dorm, shopping for groceries, or even getting new clothes for the changing seasons.

If you are spending your hard earned money, it would be nice to get some of that back or at least save a few bucks here and there.

You can do just that, plus earn cashback just by visiting a store with Shopkick, a shopping rewards smartphone app. Simply use Shopkick when you visit your favorite storefront or online shopping store and earn “kicks” in a variety of different ways.

These kicks can then be used to earn cash back of gift cards to use at major retailers.

One of our favorite features is that you can earn kicks just by visiting the store and you can earn bonus kicks from scanning the barcodes of certain products. This means you can spend your lunch breaks or free time browsing stores and making money.

13. Become A Mystery Shopper To Earn Extra Income & Get Free Meals

What if I told you that you could be making extra money and getting free meals by simply shopping with a retailer and giving your feedback on the customer service?

That is exactly what you can do with being a mystery shopper. While most people think a mystery shopper is some type of undercover private investigator, they are usually a normal person with a smart phone.

With a variety of apps available in the app store for mystery shopping, the possibilities are endless. We have seen great success with Field Agent, a smartphone app that is designed to help you earn extra money by completing small tasks to help restaurants audit their stores.

Most jobs do not require a purchase and will require you to simply take a photo of a display or check a price of an item. These tasks pay our anywhere from $1-$20 depending on the the difficulty of the task.

14. Get Cashback From Purchases By Scanning Your Receipts

We have already determined that college students have to shop a lot during college whether it’s frugally or not. By using one of the methods above, you can easily save money on the front end or receive cashback on the back end.

Now, there is a new way to make even more money using something you probably already through away – your receipt.

Now I know what you are thinking, how could I possibly make money with something that shows how much money I spent? Apps like Ibotta want this information, and they are willing to pay for it too.

Simply use the app to take a photo of your receipt and buildup a cash back rewards stash that took virtually no extra legwork. If you are going to be getting a receipt, you might as well get something for it right?

15. Avoid ATM Fees With Free Money Transferring Apps

With the amount of after school activities, lunches, football games, and many other events where you will be using cash or splitting bills, ATM fees can start to stack up. Not only that, but finding an ATM that is in a convenient location can prove to be quite difficult as well.

Save both time and money by avoiding those ATM fees with money transferring apps. College students all over the world are starting to make the shift to apps like Cashapp and Venmo to transfer money to their friends and family.

With no fees, you can transfer bill money, pay back food costs, or even gift a few bucks for a birthday at the click of a button.

One of the smartest ways to use these apps is having a parent and student use it to transfer money in case you find yourself in a situation where your card gets declined or you need a few extra bucks to get by.

16. Ensure You Are Paying The Lowest Prices For Food

Now that you know you can save money before shopping for groceries, earn cash back with your purchases, and even use your receipts to earn some extra money, it’s time to look at how much you are actually paying to begin with.

If you can find lower prices, your savings will be even bigger each trip to the grocery store.

Using an app like Shopper will allow you to easily create better budgeting for your meals and you can even find recipes to fit your financial situations.

This app also shows you coupons and savings from top brands and retailers to ensure that you are getting the best deal possible when you go to make your list. Combine this with some of the above apps and you can be saving more money that you could have imagined.

17. Take Advantage Of Your Student Discounts

One of the biggest perks of being a college student in a college town is being able to use your student discount to get deals on everyday purchases.

Many local restaurants and stores offer discounts for students that can help you save hundreds or even thousands each semester.

To help you find these great deals, RoverTown displays deals and discounts near you to keep you up to date on where the savings are. This is a great app to keep on your phone when you are trying to decide where to eat!

18. Track Your Spending Habits With Wally

Budgeting is key whether you are a college student trying to live more frugal or even just someone who would like to take control of your finances.

While most people use the word budget and say that they are sticking to it, most don’t know where to start, let alone manage one. That is where Wally, a personal money management smartphone app, comes in to help you out.

This app connects with your credit or debit card and tracks your spending habits with each purchase you make. It helps you set up budgets to ensure that you are reserving the right amount of money for each budget and making sure that you do not spend outside of your budget.

This not only helps you save money, but it also helps to build better financial management skills that will help you in any financial situation.

19. Find Free Parking Around Campus

It is no secret that one of the most dreaded things about college is the parking. Either there are not enough spaces, or the parking pass is expensive.

Add in the unsuspecting cost of parking outside of campus at adjacent lots and metered parking spaces, and you can quickly rack up an expensive parking expense throughout the semester. Not only that, you lose valuable time driving around and searching for a free spot.

Parkopedia, a smartphone app that shows you the exact locations of parking spaces, is changing the game when it comes to parking near campus.

Simply input where you will be going and what time you expect to be there and Parkopedia shows you exactly where spots are located. It even features an easy to use map and lets you know how long it will take you to walk to your destination.

This is also a great app to use when going to out of town football games or other college events!

20. Avoid Eating Out & Find Budget Friendly Meals

As a busy college student, fast food becomes a staple in your diet as it is quick, convenient, and relatively cheap. This comes with several drawbacks such as the foods being unhealthy and becoming expensive over a long period of time.

All of those cheap meals over time will add up and you will quickly realize that you could save hundreds or thousands of dollars a semester by simply cooking at home for the week ahead.

If you are like many college students, you may not have much experience cooking outside of microwaving some Ramen noodles. This can make meal prepping or cooking in general quite intimidating.

Thanks to Big Oven, you can easily find recipes, plan your grocery list, and learn how to use up your leftovers, all from a convenient smartphone app.

This app features over 500,000 recipes to fit any budget style and is an easy way to start to learn how to cook for yourself. Meal prepping can help save you money every day while you get a healthier variety of foods.

21. Earn Money While Walking To Class

Unless you bike to class or are skilled enough to use one of those hover boards that are all the rage, you will most likely be doing a lot of walking in your college career.

While this is great exercise, and you may love to watch your steps increase on your smartwatch, wouldn’t it be nice if you could make money from simply walking?

With a new app called Sweatcoins, you can easily earn money while walking to class. This app works by counting each step that you take which will turn into “Sweatcoins”. This app specific currency can be redeemed for all sorts of discounts and gift cards.

This is a great app to have in combination with many of the above apps to get the most bang for your buck throughout the day.

22. Make Money Selling Your Old Text Books

One of the most dreaded parts of any college student’s life is having to rent or buy textbooks. College textbooks are not cheap and are usually unavoidable by many students.

Once you are done with the semester, these textbooks become basically useless unless you can find someone who is willing to buy them from you.

Bookscouter, an online marketplace for college books, allows you to sell your textbooks for instant cash. By using 42 different buyback vendors, you can easily find a potential buyer to offer you top dollar for your books.

Even better, you can find used books at rock bottom prices to save money at the beginning of your semester. This eliminates the need for you to pay full retail for new books by offering slightly used books for much lower prices.

23. Earn Cash Selling Photos

In this digital age, just about every college student has a smartphone with a camera that takes high quality photos. I am willing to bet just about everyone who owns a camera has some sort of photos on their phone that they are quite proud of. Why not get paid for these photos?


With Clashot, a smartphone app that allows you to sell your photos, college students can make easy, extra money by simply taking photos and uploading them to the app.

This app connects photographers with potential buyers to help you get money for these quality photos. If you are going to be taking photos, why not make money off of them? You can easily turn this into a little side hustle by snapping photos everywhere you go.

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One Response

  1. mary Stocker Nov 12, 2018

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