Budgetting in College

College Student Budget Tips-7 Ideas

So you have made it to college! I bet you are super excited and just can’t wait to get the ball rolling. You have money saved back, you have financial aid, you even have an overly price meal plan that promises all the great food you can eat three times a day! Nothing can stand in your way, right? WRONG!

College is a fun time, and it is a time to make the most of your life, but there is always a pressing issue in the back of nearly every college students mind, and that is money. Money for school supplies, nights out, alcohol, food, and No moneymany other things.

You see, college typically fails to tell the student of all the hidden cost, especially for those who lives on campus. Even when they do, they fail to mention the utter cost of everything.

It is an unfortunate truth that this especially affects the college students who do not have a lot of money. Typically they come from poorer families. Typically poorer families don’t get the education that more wealthy ones do, so they don’t learn the importance of financing and other things like that. I was part of that category.

I did not know the price of basic things like laundry detergent. I found out when I actually went away for college. It is expensive! So today I would like to give you some helpful tips on budgeting while in College. This is college student budget tips!

1. Buy Store Brand

I know, I know. I hate some store brand stuff. The quality can be quite terrible at times, and most of the time never lives up to more expensive brands. However, while you are in college, you don’t really need the more expensive brands.

Take, for instance, trash bags. While you are in college, you’re not going to need the best trash bags around. You simple won’t have enough trash to have to worry about that issue. In cases like this, you may end up saving 2 to 3 dollars bi weekly or so. In a months time that’s about 5 dollars on average. I know that some people will think that Store Brandthat is not much, but for all my friends on here who are actually in college, you know otherwise. That little of money can be used for food or essential things for college.

Perhaps another example would actually be laundry detergent. Some of those cost anywhere from 10 to 20 dollars, and that is a lot of money for a college student! And there are some that cost less than five dollars. That adds up. You couple that with the trash bags and you’re saving on average 10 to 15 dollars a month.

As you can see, this really starts to add up. You can do that with nearly everything you buy, and though per item it might only save you a few dollars (we will say 3), when you are buying so many things (suppose 15) that can add up. In our example, you would probably be saving at least 45 dollars a month, if not more! That’s enough to go to the movies with friends, buy food, and still have money left over!

You only have a limited amount of years in college, and most students are going to probably be in the same boat as you are financially. Don’t let your ego and pride get the best of you here. Buy cheap for now, so that you don’t have to buy it later in life.

2. Invest in a Kindle or e-book Reader

I really wish I had done this while in college. For some reason I was stuck in an archaic mindset that it is better to have a physical copy of a book. I even had some professors argue that.

I don’t think that was the case then, and I certainly don’t think that is the case now! I use a Kindle every day for my own personal studies. It has enriched my life because I have over a 1000 books either on my computer ready to be transferred to the Kindle, or already sitting on the Kindle ready to be read.

There are several reasons to invest in a Kindle.

1. Your books will be cheaper because you can buy them in e-book format.

2. You don’t have to carry so many books around everywhere, and trust me, I know how heavy they can be!

3. Don’t want to leave your room at night, but don’t want to disturb your roommate by turning on the light to read? You won’t have to with a Kindle, which has an adjustable light!

4. Like to read? There are many free books in the Kindle Store, and even more when you get a Kindle Unlimited subscription!

With the kindle you have several options to chose from. Let’s look at some of them!

1. All-New Kindle- 89.99


This is the cheapest one, and it is probably the one you will want to go with anyway. It is everything a person would need in a Kindle I believe. It comes with three months of Kindle Unlimited for free, and so I would take advantage of that if I were you! Kindle Unlimited has free books that are typically pretty good to read. I think the Harry Potter Series is on there, though they may have taken it off by now. I just finished that series again a few months ago.

The light on this Kindle is adjustable, so if you happen to have a roommate who is super sensitive to lights at nighttime, this is great for you and for them!

It has a glare free display, which alloys you to go outside on beautiful days and read and do classwork.

If you are real short on cash, this is definitely the way to go hands down

2. Kindle Paperwhite- 129.99

This is by far, my favorite Kindle. It is beautiful and thin. This Kindle has the same great perks of the last one, but this one is also waterproof. This can be helpful for all the people who like to read outside when its raining, or if you are on the beach for Spring BreakKindle Paperwhite

I also like this one better because the screen actually looks a little like pages in a book. It’s really cool and I highly recommend it to everyone who can afford it.

This one also has a longer battery life, which can last for weeks, which is a great quality to have considering there is always so much going on in college you may not always remember or might be too busy to plug it up. Well with this one, you have weeks before it dies, so hopefully you will find it in your busy schedule to plug it up!

3. Kindle Oasis- 349.99


So this is like the King or Queen of all the Kindles, and it shows in the price. This one is my wife’s favorite Kindle (go figure). No but seriously this is the one she likes and for good reason I suppose, just not any reason I would really want one for that price.

This one has all the awesome benefits of the last two. However, this one can also connect to wi fi and with your cell phone. Why anyone does that, well to be honest I don’t know. I got mine for books, and I transfer them over from my computer. If I wanted something to connect to internet I would use my tablet and just download the kindle app with it, but I digress.

This one does work with Audible as well, and it has the best screen resolution, if those are important to you.

So those are your three choices when it comes to picking out a Kindle. As I was stating earlier though, you can download the Kindle app to your phone, computer, or tablet, and use the app instead. It works decent on a tablet, but I personally do not like using it on the phone or computer at all. However, if you are low on cash, this may be your best option and that is okay!

3. Use a Budget App!

I know this sounds like something you would read from an article for stay-at-home moms or something like that, but it actually is a great tip! A budget app that allows you to put in how much money you make and how much you have to spend, while allowing you to see where your money is going and what your goals are, is a simple, yet effective way of budgeting!

There is psychology involved with making goals and being able to reach those goals. Just the mere action of setting goals and tracking them helps to accomplish them. In fact, if you want to know more about that, check out what Dr. Jordan Peterson says in the video below. I highly recommend any college student to watch his lectures. Whether you agree with him or not on some political stances he takes, there is no doubt he is an intellectual powerhouse.

Many budgeting apps are out there, and I wish there was a one size fits all, but there simply isn’t. Each person is going to need to be able to find something that is suitable just for them. If I had to suggest one, I would suggest Mint buy Intuit. It’s the app I use, and I love it! Intuit has some top quality digital products if you ask me!

4. Invest in a good Banking App

You Acorn banking!are probably catching on that I am a huge fan of technology and I believe that technology will bring us into a new age and we should welcome that. It’s sort of like the fourth industrial revolution if you will (yeah I stole that line from my favorite presidential candidate of 2020, Andrew Yang).

I suggest getting an app that will not allow you to overdraft from their account, so more than likely you will want to go with the ones that are loadable at stores or something.

There are countless apps out there for this. However, in this category I HIGHLY recommend Acorns for a variety of reasons! Let’s take a look at them:

A. If you sign up through this link then not only do I get a 5 dollar referral bonus, but you will also get 5 dollars invested into your account too! That is free money, and I know that every college student can use that! Heck every person can use free money, so even if you are not in college this can help you!

B. My favorite thing about Acorns is that they have a program where you can buy into stock using the extra change from your purchases. You can opt into this or not, but basically if you spend say, 1.33, then .67 will be credited into a savings type account based off the stock market. Over the course of time that actually adds up! Right now the stock market is doing pretty good too, so I suggest signing up ASAP!

Also, with this, you can choose what kind of investor you are. There is aggressive, conservative, and a sort of moderate type. I, of course, chose aggressive because I like big risk and the excitement that comes with that!

C. It’s free to join! You don’t have to pay any money! You can join for free, and the money you invest into Acorns, you actually get to keep in that account!

D. For now I think this is enough. I will literally have to make a whole new post about Acorns, and I did not even realize that until I started talking about them! So be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss that post!

If this doesn’t sound like something you would like (and I have no idea why considering you get free money and can even invest that annoying amount of change that comes with each purchase) there are other good banking apps. My wife uses Simple because she does not like dealing with the Stock Market (and Acorns did not have the referral thing at the time!). There is also Chime, and many others! So look around and try to find one that you feel would suit your personal needs!

5. Know your Limits and Stick to them!

I know it’s hard not being able to always go out with friends. Going out to eat, or going to the movies, or anything like that does take money. If you don’t have it though, DON’T SPEND IT!

Remember that app over budgeting I told you to invest in? See what you are spending goals are, and if you have enough to go out with friends, then that is okay, but if you do not, please do yourself a favor and don’t do it. You willStop it! be glad you didn’t later on down the road when you need the money for something else!

This also pertains to anything that you have a monthly subscription to. Do not keep those subscriptions if you cannot afford them! Let’s say you have a Netflix, Hulu, and World of Warcraft account. All together those could add up to at least 30 dollars a month, if not more! That is a lot of money when you do not have a lot of money.

I know that some of these subscriptions feel necessary, but they simply are not. Remember, you need to be able to take care of your basic needs first, and then worry about all the fun stuff that comes afterward. For all you psychology major’s, it’s like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs! Take care of the basic ones first, then move on up the pyramid!

6. Decide which Meal Plan is Best

This is probably one of the toughest issues on the list to be honest with you, because you really have to understand your habits and temptations, as well as whether you will want to use any financial aid on meal plans.

Meal plans can usually range from having so many a week, to having unlimited meals throughout the semester. The cost of these plans is what is so bothersome. They are usually not cheap, and you could buy your own food for the college diningsame price if not less. However, since most colleges don’t allow stoves and hot plates in personal dorm rooms, it can be a pain having to go to the lobby to cook all the time, not to mention how time-consuming it can be.

But then, even if you do decide to go with the meal plan, you have to assess how you will pay for it. If you are getting financial aid, what type of aid. Are you having to take out loans? If so and you are getting a meal plan, how much would you save on student loans if you did not have that meal plan? But then, how would you pay for food if you don’t have the meal plan and refuse the all the loan money that you could use for food? These are some questions that only you can really answer for yourself. In the long run, student loan debt is tough to bear, but you do still have to eat.

What I did was take out the extra loan money and got a full meal plan with unlimited meals. I wish I hadn’t because my work study job was at the cafe on campus, and I could have easily taken some food home with me (I was and still am extremely good friends with two of the managers, and one of the managers is now my mother-in-law, so it pays to suck up to people who are above you!). If that seems plausible to you, then maybe you could do something like that, and buy ramen noodle here and there to supplement any other cravings You decide what’s best for your and your lifestyle though and stick to it!

7. College Student Budget Tip- Wealthy Affiliate!

This is probably one of the more important tips, in my opinion! Yes I know I may be a little biased considering I have a Wealthy Affiliate account and I use it on a daily basis! However, think about it like this, if it was not so good, then I simple would not use it! I would not be on here every day, typing up a storm so that I can create valuable content for you guys! I owe Wealthy Affiliate a lot, and they continue to give!

Seriously though, you get a free account that comes with a website, and you get ten free lessons on how to build and use that site! There is literally nothing to lose with that! If you decide you do like it, then you can upgrade for a discounted price!

Still Skeptical? Check out my full review here!

Want to know how I manage to not pay a cent out of my pocket for Wealthy Affiliate? Sign up and find out! I can give you some tips on that, and many more things because I really do what you to succeed! If you sign up through the links I provided I will automatically know and will reach out to you and share some of those secrets with you!

Just Remember…

College is supposed to be a time of fun. Sure you are there to learn and gain experience for a degree so that you can get a decent job and all that. Be that as it may, college is also about having experiences, and making memories. Do not let the stress of financial issue hinder you from doing that. I know how it is, I’ve been there, but do yourself a favor, and make fun memories.College memories

Don’t ever forget your support network if things get too rough. Churches, outreach programs, food programs, friends, family, and even sometimes professors, will help you all they can to make sure you are okay, and you have basic things you need to survive in college.

So there it is, my serious emotional rant of the day! I hope it inspired you a little at least! Hey if you liked this post, be sure to subscribe so you do not miss any of my post, and share with your friends! Let them know of all the ways that they too can budget and survive the financial crisis of college.

Thank you for reading College student budget tips. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below and I will get back with you as soon as possible!

Jessie Mosley

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  1. I used to be in college, and I used to eat a lot of pasta. The important thing to is to avoid drinking if you are serious about saving your money. Stay away from restaurant and fast food.  Use the free gym to keep yourself busy and healthy.

    Eating Roman noodles are unhealthy. they may be cheap but they are not good for you. The sodium level is unhealthy for your heart. Keep an eye on sodium levels with those cheap foods. Rice is very cheap and healthy.  You can also get deals on pizzas if you buy them in bulk from the grocery stores. 

    1. Oh yes, it is very unhealthy for sure, but sometimes, when you are in a rock and a hard place, the only thing you can do is eat unhealthy just so you can survive.  Rice is a great way to go, but when you live in a dorm, it’s not always possible to make rice, which typically involves using a stove.  Pizza is the same, except there are small ones that can be microwaved, but they are pretty unhealthy as well.

  2. With how increasingly the internet rate is becoming for users all around the world, I do believe that accessibility is key. Five years ago when I was in college I used to spend hours in the library because books were (and still are) overly expensive, not to mention that I didn’t have the money to buy them. I was both studying and working full time so it was a challenge. Also, buying brand store items was my all I did. From home cleaning products to food, so that really is a good idea, not to mention the amount of money you’re saving. 

  3. Hello, I really want to first appreciate your effort in putting this great website together and writing this article. When I got into college, one major thing that helped me was investing in banking apps like piggyvest and then creating a budget. Other ideas you have posted here are so awesome. It would really be of help to others. Thank you very much

    1. Thank you very much!  I hope that it will help a lot of people.  That is what I want.  I know how challenging it is to be in college and needing money.

  4. After reading this article I can agree with you on most points but for me definitely not the E reader suggestion. Maybe its because I’ll always be a fan of a physical book whether paperback or hardback, I don’t care. I have tried several times to read off a kindle and I’ve failed each time so I sold it on eBay.

    Now why would a college student who has to live on a budget be able to spend $$$ on technology like that when they can just buy their books on eBay if necessary and even cheaper than amazon in some cases.  Just my opinion.

    Your idea about a banking / budgeting app is really useful but like you say one size does not fit all and I’m most likely to choose one via a recommendation than to trawl through the app store to find one good enough as it’s a minefield at the best of times.

    How long have you used that budget app for ?

    1. One thing to remember about college books, though, even if you go and buy all your books on ebay, some of them are still not going to be cheap.  I remember one college book I bought on ebay (since it really did have the cheapest books) was still well over 200 dollars, whereas the e-book was less than 150.  In the long run, a kindle or an e-book reader saves more than it loses.   Plus, the kindle app is free, so you don’t need to buy a kindle for that.  You can download it on your computer, tablet or phone.

      I have been using this particular budget app for about seven months.  I’ve tried a few others, and I wasn’t as pleased as I was with this one.

  5. Hi Jessie! Thank you very much for this great article. It seems like you really enjoy your college days. And I must admit, that you are very good at analyzing every point that can make your budget more optimal.
    I am most happy for point number 5 “Know your Limits and Stick to them!” . This is a point that I always held when I was in college. Where, with limited money available, because I’m not come from a rich family. So I made a budget for each need (for example eating = $ xx, hangout = $ xx, etc.).
    It might look easy to make a budget, but the hardest part is implementing it. I also could not immediately adjust after making the budget, so I had to cut another budget. However, as time goes by, I can stick to the budget! As a result, I was able to save a few dollars little by little and enjoy it after I finished college.

    By the way, during your study, did you join the wealthy affiliate program?

    1. Kylie, thank you for your honesty and your story!  It’s great to see people go to college who may not come from wealthy families!  I agree that it is tough starting out with a budget, but once you develop the habits, it gets easier with time!

      I did not get to join Wealthy Affiliate while in college.  I wish I had though!  I would probably have had more money on hand.

  6. Hey Jessie, Thank you for writing on College Student Budget Tips-7 Ideas. I enjoy while reading your ideas. Your ideas are very helpful for college students and for me too. Your idea no 7. College Student Budget Tip- Wealthy Affiliate! is very useful for me. I found the training here. Thank you for sharing such useful ideas.


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