how to save money for students
Make the most out of your university life when you learn how to budget and save money. Source: AFP

Navigating university life can be daunting, especially with all the expenses. The cost of tuition, rent and daily living expenses can create a financial squeeze. 

The average annual tuition for public universities in the US has nearly tripled over the past few decades, putting a burden on students.

Combine that with the rising costs of rent and the day-to-day necessities, and you find yourself juggling way too many bills and budgeting apps.

In the midst of this delicate balancing act, the importance of learning strategies on how to save money for students becomes glaringly evident. 

A financial safety net can be the difference between smoothly coasting through your academic journey and grappling with financial stress. 

A study by the Institute for College Access and Success found that nearly 62% of college graduates in the US carry student loan debt. By adopting a consistent habit of saving, you not only prepare for unexpected expenses but also gain a sense of financial empowerment. 

The importance of adopting strategies on how to save money for students

Studying abroad is undoubtedly an exciting chapter of your university experience. During this period, the importance of saving money cannot be overstated. 

Studying in a foreign country comes with challenges, and without a financial cushion, you may miss out on some incredible opportunities. 

Remember that catchy line from the popular song by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, “Thrift Shop”? “Saving my money, and I’m hella happy, that’s a bargain.” 

Those lyrics carry some wisdom – the satisfaction of saving and making smart financial choices. 

how to save money for students

Choosing to not save money could lead to you missing out on some experiences and adventures while in university. Source: AFP

What could happen if you don’t save money?

The cost of studying abroad, including tuition, accommodation, and living expenses, can be significantly higher than studying at home, making the need to save even more critical.

Imagine being in a foreign city, surrounded by vibrant culture and unique experiences, but unable to experience any of them because you blew your budget on unnecessary things. 

Without savings, you might miss out on spontaneous trips, cultural events, or even trying local delicacies that could improve your study abroad experience. 

And you may find yourself in a tight spot when your car or bike breaks down, and you’re left scrambling to cover the repair costs. 

The National Centre for Education Statistics found that unexpected expenses are a common reality for students, with over 30% reporting financial emergencies during their university years. 

Without savings, such situations can force you to choose between fixing your car and buying essential study materials, putting you in a stressful dilemma that could have been avoided with a financial safety net.

7 best-proven strategies for how to save money for students 

how to save money for students

Follow a monthly budget to ensure you don’t overspend your money. Source: AFP

1. Create a monthly budget

Having a monthly budget is one of the proven strategies for how to save money for students.

It allows you to take control of your finances and pave the way for smart money management. 

List all your income sources, including part-time jobs, allowances or financial aid. Then, outline your fixed expenses like rent, utilities and tuition. 

Deducting these fixed costs from your income gives you a clear picture of the money you have monthly to work with. 

Allocate portions of this remaining budget to expenses such as groceries, transportation and entertainment.

Students who budget are more likely to feel in control of their finances and make informed financial decisions. 

This budgeting process helps you understand where your money is going and ensures that you are living within your means.

The benefits of having a monthly budget extend beyond just tracking expenses. It serves as a financial roadmap, allowing you to allocate funds for savings, emergencies and even a bit of fun. 

With a clear overview of your financial landscape, you can make informed choices about when to tighten the belt and when to treat yourself without feeling guilty. 

So, grab a pen and paper or explore good budgeting apps like Goodbudget or Mint to kickstart your journey towards financial well-being as a student.

2. Meal prep

Meal prepping is a great habit if you want to save money while in university. 

Planning and preparing meals in advance not only saves you money but also time and effort throughout the week. 

According to the American Dietetic Association, those who meal prep are more likely to make healthier food choices and have greater control over portion sizes, contributing to long-term savings on healthcare costs. 

By buying ingredients in bulk and cooking in batches, you can significantly reduce the frequent expenses of dining out or ordering takeout, helping your bank account stay in the green.

Beyond the financial benefits, meal prepping is a sure-fire way to becoming healthier.

You can tailor your meals to your nutritional needs and dietary preferences, ensuring a balanced and wholesome diet. 

This also allows you to schedule and plan social meals with friends without worrying about breaking the budget. 

With so much recipe inspiration on platforms like YouTube and TikTok, you can turn meal prepping into a fun and delicious activity, exploring new flavours and cooking techniques. 

Roll up your sleeves, grab those containers, and embark on a cost-effective, time-saving, and health-conscious meal-prepping journey.

how to save money for students

Shopping at thrift stores is one of the proven strategies on how to save money for students. Source: AFP

3. Buy secondhand goods

Whether it’s textbooks, clothes, furniture, or electronics, the secondhand market offers a treasure trove of affordable options. 

According to a report by ThredUp, a leading online thrift store, the secondhand market is projected to double within the next five years. 

Opting for pre-loved items also contributes to a more eco-friendly lifestyle by reducing the demand for new production and minimising waste.

Locating secondhand gems is easier than ever, with a surge in the popularity of thrift stores and online marketplaces. 

Many cities boast thrift shops offering everything from vintage fashion to used furniture. 

These stores provide budget-friendly alternatives and allow you to discover unique items. 

The next time you need a new addition to your wardrobe or a textbook for class, consider exploring the flea markets, online sites and Facebook groups – you might be surprised at the bargains you could find.

4. Take advantage of student deals

Taking advantage of student deals is one of the proven strategies on how to save money for students.

Many online and offline businesses recognise students’ budget constraints and offer exclusive discounts to help ease the burden. 

From software subscriptions to clothing stores and even technology gadgets, many products and services are available at discounted rates for students. 

According to the National Retail Federation, around 49% of retailers offer special deals or promotions specifically for students. This means you can access many savings that add up over time with just your student ID or university email address.

It’s not just university-related expenses that student deals can cover. Movie theatres often provide discounted student tickets, making that weekend movie night more affordable. 

Restaurants and fast-food chains also offer special student discounts, making it easier to enjoy a meal out without breaking the bank.

To make the most of these deals, keep an eye out for student discount programmes, both online and offline, and make sure to take advantage of them whenever possible. 

Websites like Student Beans, UNiDAYS, and local student discount cards can be valuable resources for finding and accessing these money-saving opportunities.

how to save money for students

Choose to take public transport as you embark on your journey on how to save money for students. Source: AFP

5. Use public transport

If you are looking for ways on how to save money as a student, it’s time to hop on buses and trains.

With rising fuel costs and the overall expenses associated with owning a vehicle, using public transit is a savvy financial move. 

According to a study by the American Public Transportation Association, you can save, on average, over US$800 per month by choosing public transportation over owning and maintaining a car. 

The money saved can be redirected towards essential student needs, such as textbooks, groceries, or even a little extra for social activities. 

Beyond the financial benefits, choosing public transit also contributes to the reduction of your carbon footprint, which creates a more sustainable lifestyle.

The popularity of public transportation among students is on the rise. Many cities known for their prestigious universities and student life have well-established public transit systems. 

For example, in cities like London and Tokyo, renowned for their academic institutions, efficient and extensive public transportation networks make it easy for students to navigate the city without the burden of owning a car. 

By choosing buses, trains, or trams, not only do you save money, but you also become part of a collective effort to reduce traffic congestion and lower emissions, making a positive impact on the environment.

how to save money for students

Shein has become one of the globe’s most dominant fast-fashion players. Source: AFP

6. Don’t make impulsive purchases

Resisting the urge to make impulsive purchases is crucial to mastering the art of saving money during your student years.

It’s easy to be enticed by flashy advertisements, online deals or tempting sales that promise short-term happiness. 

However, succumbing to these impulsive purchases can have a detrimental impact on your finances. 

According to a survey by the National Endowment for Financial Education, 76% of college students admitted to impulse buying, leading to regret later on. 

These purchases may seem harmless initially, like that extra pair of trendy sneakers or the latest tech gadget, but they can quickly accumulate, leaving you with a low budget for essential expenses like textbooks, groceries or rent.

With cheap-as-chips platforms like Shein dominating the fast fashion scene, it’s easier than ever to succumb to the pressure of staying on-trend and making spontaneous wardrobe additions. 

Fast fashion may offer trendy pieces at low prices, but the hidden cost lies in the environmental impact and the toll on your personal finances.

You spot a limited-time offer for sneakers that seems too good to pass up. Excited, you make the impulsive decision to purchase it. 

Fast forward a few weeks, and you find yourself struggling to cover your basic needs because that expense left a significant dent in your budget. 

By consciously avoiding impulsive purchases, you safeguard your financial stability and develop a disciplined approach to managing your money.

how to save money for students

Making your coffee at home is one of the proven strategies on how to save money for students. Source: AFP

7. Make your own coffee

For many university students, the daily grind includes not just assignments and exams but also the essential ritual of sipping a cup of coffee to kickstart the day. 

Caffeine can be a lifesaver during those long study sessions and early morning lectures. However, relying on coffee from cafes can quickly drain your limited budget. 

On average, a single cup of coffee from a cafe can cost almost US$5. And if you are someone who needs more than a cup a day, this expense can add up fast. 

To save money without sacrificing your caffeine fix, consider making your own coffee at home. 

Investing in a simple coffee maker or a French press can be a cost-effective solution that pays off in the long run. 

Not only will you save money, but you’ll also have the freedom to experiment with different coffee blends and customise your brew to suit your taste preferences. 

There are many online resources, tutorials and even workshops that you can use to learn the art of coffee brewing, making it an accessible skill for anyone looking to cut down on unnecessary expenses.