10 Habits of Highly Frugal College Students

10 Habits of Highly Frugal College Students
  • Opening Intro -

    College isn't necessarily cheap. But it doesn't have to break the bank, either.

    Learn to cut down on unnecessary spending while you're in college.

    It's one of the keys to graduating with as little debt and in the best financial situation as possible.


We have ten highly frugal habits to help you save money, live cheaper, and stretch your income farther than you may have expected. These changes may seem simple, but they work, especially when you combine them all.

Let’s dive in and get started with number one.

1. Stop Eating Out

A good rule of thumb is to set a limit for how many times you’ll eat out during the month. Eating out is fun, and your friends are going to invite you along to do it. But if you’re not careful, saying “yes” to this too much will seriously cut into your food budget.

Take a good, honest look at your budget, and only eat out as often as your budget truly allows. You can also try eating out at cheaper places or where/when you know the best specials and deals are on offer.

2. Go Easy On Your Meal Plan

According to the Hechinger reports, the average price for a meal plan at a college or university is $4,500 per year. Now, that sounds good when you know that you’ll be able to eat there all the time.

But here’s the big issue. Often, it’s less appealing to eat at your local meal hall because as the school year goes on, you’ll get more and more bored of the food. But also, meal plans just aren’t cheap, to start.

Opt to go for a cheaper meal plan option, or make plans to eat your meals in different ways. Be strategic, and don’t overspend on a more expensive meal plan than you need.

3. Buy Secondhand Clothes

Buying new clothes is fun. And yes, you do want to look sharpwhile in college. But another thing that you probably know about nice clothes is that they cost more.

Try buying secondhand clothing on sites like Poshmark.com. You can also visit local thrift stores or discount clothing stores to find great buys at better prices.

Yes, you may have to compromise a bit on your personal fashion sense. But you should never overspend on style and hurt your budget while in college.

4. Find Cheap Ways To Have Fun

It’s tempting to want to go out and “live the life” while attending college. But it’s also vital to understand the deeper context.

You’re here to get an education and set yourself up for success later on in life. The time to do expensive stuff isn’t now. It’ll be later after you’ve graduated and started getting some real money.

So, for now, opt to do fun things that don’t cost very much.

It may not sound like the “party” life, but my friends and I used to play board games right in our dorm room on the weekends. It costs virtually nothing, you can invite whoever you want, and it’s a great time. You can also play sports, explore, go to free parties, etc.

5. Buy Used Textbooks

There’s no doubt that textbooks are going to eat up a massive chunk of your college budget. But there are ways to get around this.

The best way to save money on textbooks is to use a site like Slugbook. Slugbook will let you shop for textbooks by ISBN. You can sometimes find books that would cost hundreds of dollars new — for as little as $10.

It never hurts to search. You never know what you might find.

6. Check For Student Discounts

Student discounts can save you a lot more money than you ever imagined, especially in a college town. Get into the habit of bringing your student ID everywhere and asking for a student discount wherever you go.

Ask for it when buying food, clothing, or anything else.

It may surprise you how much money you can save. And in college towns, a lot of the businesses around campus will offer these types of deals to appeal to the college customer base.

It’s a win-win for you.

7. Walk or Use Public Transport

Uber is awesome. But it’s also expensive. If you plan well, you can usually avoid needing to pay for rides, which can really hurt your budget.

Instead of finding a way to get across town, try to plan things that won’t require you to go very far so that rides won’t be a problem.

If you do need to travel away from campus, consider planning your trips around the public transportation system so that you can save money. Riding the bus isn’t as convenient, but it’s only a fraction of the price of a taxi. And in the long run, those savings add up.

8. Make Your Own Coffee Instead Of Going To Coffee Shops

Yeah, I know. At this point, I’m just ruining all the fun of being a college student.Going out to get coffee is an enjoyable part of college life.

But hear me out on this one. By the time you buy your coffee and pay taxes on it, you’ll often be spending close to $6 or $7! And that’s for every single coffee!

Instead, consider doing this, buy:

  1. A coffee maker
  2. Some delicious coffee
  3. Some coffee flavorings (to make unique drinks)
  4. And a can of whipped cream

You’ll save so much money and get so much more coffee going this route that it’ll have a massive positive impact on your budget.

9. Consider Becoming a Resident Assistant

Becoming an RA is a big responsibility. But there are a lot of benefits. For one, it can save you money on housing and meal plans. Two, it looks great on your resume.

Apply for this position to save yourself some serious room and board cash. True, it isn’t the most fun job. But think of it as an investment in your future.

10. Remember To Work Hard On Your Classes

Here’s the thing:

Going to college is an investment in your future.

But many students don’t keep this in mind and end up partying or messing around and failing classes as a result. When you fail classes, you’ll spend more money because you’ll need to catch up on those classes.

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And that’s all money that’ll either come out of your pocket or get tacked on as student loan debt that you’ll need to pay off.

For best results, apply your total effort to pass your classes with high grades. Do the work, and keep in mind that this will all pay off once you leave school and strike out on your own in the real world.


College can be a fantastic experience that’ll set you up for success for the rest of your future.

But here’s the thing.

If you spend too much and dig yourself into too much debt, it’ll come back to bite you.

Save money while you can, and stay motivated by reminding yourself how nice it’ll be to graduate with minimal (or zero) debt. You got this! Now get out there and start saving some money.

Author Bio
Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with Copper Beech at Greenville to help them with their online marketing.

Image Credit: frugal college students by envato.com

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