Friday, 6 September 2013

Tips to saving money in College

This is the first week of school, so I think it's fitting to post about College money saving tips. These tips come from my years of post-secondary education, I hope someone will find them useful.

  1. Don't buy textbooks new, and if you can help it, don't buy textbooks at all: College textbooks are very expensive. The books for one semester can easily cost $500 to $1000. I studied Science in undergrad, and found that most professors don't refer to the textbooks much. In fact, most of the testable material come from class slides and notes. I didn't buy a single textbook in my last two years of study. On top of that, libraries will always have the designated course textbooks. The current editions may be on reserve and only available for in-library use or short term loans, but if an older edition is available, it is often eligible for regular loans. The difference between editions are often minimal. Also, buying used textbooks from an upper year is another good way to save money, which brings me to my next point. 
  2. Buy used. Look for your university's classified ads website, facebook marketplace or check out bulletin boards in different school buildings. I've gotten excellent deals on everything from furniture, bikes, textbooks to intercity rides on my school's classified ads. In fact, I made a little money when sold my apartment furniture at higher prices than I originally got them for. 
  3. Sell what you no longer need. Sell your used textbooks and any household item you don't need on the various resources named above. 
  4. Try to cook instead of eating out. Making yourself sandwiches and easy dinners will be much cheaper and more nutritious than eating out all the time. I personally love slow cookers - minimum prep time. 
  5. Take advantage of grants and scholarships. There are a lot of free money out there. Definitely check out your school's student aid office. There are also a lot of scholarships and grants offer by government and various organizations/corporations. Some may involve a bit more work (ex. essays), but the work will pay off (most grants/scholarships offer $500+). 
  6. Take advantage of school amenities. Most student fees will include assess to the Gym or reduced price to the Gym. Instead of paying for Gym memberships, why not take advantage of these?
  7. Opt out of unnecessary fees. Each school usually have an opt out period when you can decide to opt out of unnecessary fees. For example, dental/medical insurance if you're still covered under one of your parents' plans. I remember our school also had a fee for the student radio station and a library fund. I opted out of the radio station fee because I never listened in, but kept the library fund because I used the library extensively. 


  1. Thanks for the tips! With the economy going downhill, it's a tough challenge to survive college without going broke. It's hard enough to get in without burning a hole in your pocket but sadly, that's just the start. Students would need the right discipline, the proper motivation, and a stable financial plan to make it through college. Roslyn @

    1. Yeah! I was reasonably smart with saving money with the small things in college, but made the biggest mistake of taking as much student loan as I can get. Hopefully the new generation of students will be smarter and end up with less student debt because that could put a huge dent on one's financial progress.

  2. What a difference it would make if students of your generation would only follow your advice about tracking their finances. Granted, you made a huge mistake by taking a significant amount of loan, but with your smart saving scheme, I think it would only be a matter of time before you can fully pay off all of your remaining debts. I hope you’ll finally achieve that financial freedom before this year is over!

    Valerie Casey @ Studemont Group CFS

    1. Thanks a lot! It was indeed a glorious moment when I paid the last of my student debts.
      I don't think many students even give student loan repayment a thought at the time they take out the loan, which is unfortunate but understandable. I hope since now that a lot of attention has been brought to student loans, today's college students will at least pay more attention to their finances and realize what carrying a large student loan will mean once they graduate.