Cultural Experience | New York

12 Budget Life Hacks for College

Live by these tips for a fun and affordable college experience

With textbooks, student loans, groceries, gas, and all sorts of other expenses, college can get really costly. You may think that going on a budget is too complicated and might get in the way of how you live your day-to-day life. The truth is, however, you will be very thankful in the long run if you go through college on a budget starting your freshmen year. This way, when you walk across that stage for graduation and enter the real world, you wont be crying tears of sadness, but tears of joy instead. Follow these budget life hacks for college in order to have a great college experience at an affordable price:

1. Eat at home.

Going out every night for dinner can add up very fast, so make an effort to buy groceries and make easy and nutritional meals that you will love. Whether it’s a grilled cheese, oatmeal or French toast, you will be proud of yourself for taking the initiative to be your own cook!

2. Be smart when grocery shopping.

Make sure to look at the deals for different brands before you purchase an item. Be sure to sign up for the grocery store’s card because it save you a lot of money once you it is scanned at the register. You should also remember to always check the unit price when trying to figure out what is the better deal.

3. Student discounts.

Do not forget all of the discounts your school I.D. can provide you. It is hard to remember that you get 10% off at the McDonald’s across the street or 20% at the local Rite Aid by just showing your student card. Always bring this card with you and flash it around every chance you have. This will get you discounts on more valuable items, such as computers, as well as less valuable items like food.

4. Save money on textbooks.

Always try to borrow a book rather than buy it, unless it is a book that you think will be necessary for you to have for years to come. Getting a used or rented book from the bookstore is a usually a lot cheap than buying a new textbook. Better yet, try borrowing textbooks from friends and spend no money at all. Also, there are online sites, such as and, that offer great deals on textbooks.

5. Dodge credit cards.

I know you will probably start getting credit card pitches in the mail, but do not cave into them unless you absolutely know that you can pay the monthly bill. Credit cards can become a trap for many college students that spend money on luxurious things without having any income coming in to back them up. Make sure you have the financial means for payments, or don’t sign up for one until you are ready.

6. Freebies are your friend.

Who doesn’t love free stuff? Take advantage of all of the free things that go on at your campus, such as entertainment, food and an assortment of events.

7. Use your meal plan!

Colleges are always improving the food that they serve in their cafeterias in order to be nutritionally cautious and provide options that work for everyone. Since you are already paying for your meal plan in your tuition you should use it instead of going to a restaurant or ice cream parlor. The cafeteria has both of those features and I’m sure your friends will come along to make it even more enjoyable.

8. Get a job.

There are many jobs on campus that satisfy the busy schedule of students. This is a great way to get involved in one of your college’s departments and it can also help you make some extra money for the weekends. Off campus, you can find other accommodating jobs, such as babysitting through sites like or from recommendations and word of mouth.

9. Know your loans.

I know loans can be a terrifying thing to think about, but it is important to know what your financial situation is so you know how to prepare for the future. After graduation, these loans will be your sole responsibility and you want to make sure that you can adhere to the agreement you have with your loaners.

10. Distinguish between your needs and desires.

What you need and what you desire are two completely different things. Make sure that you always put your needs first and then what you desire or want second. It is more important to buy that textbook you really need for a class than to purchase a new going out dress. I know it’s tough, but soon enough you will have a successful career and be able to fulfill all of those desires!

11. Garage sale.

There is no need to keep or let all of those things you have had in your bedroom for the past 18 years pile up. Put it to good use and have a garage sale! This way, you can make some extra money and help people who need clothes at a low price at the same time. Showcase those old bell-bottom jeans and jelly flip-flops and hope they will catch the eye of someone who needs them.

12. Groupon and Living Social.

Both of these online sites should be something you check every day! They provide viewers with local deals on things like restaurants, entertainment and travel. You can even get a couple friends to go into the deal with you to make it even more affordable.

Caitlin McConnell

Marist College | 12 stories

Caitlin is a senior at Marist College studying public relations and fashion merchandising. She enjoys being active, shopping and spending time with friends and family. She is also a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. She has gained valuable experiences through interning at companies such as Seventeen Magazine in New York City and traveling abroad to Florence, Italy for a semester. She fell in love with Europe and dreams of traveling to new places to further explore cultures, languages and traditions!

One response to “12 Budget Life Hacks for College”

  1. Rimon Edson says:

    Now I have some new ideas for budget life hacks.

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