College is a pretty stressful time — different from high school, but still hard to deal with. They're basically your first steps to living by yourself. From being tempted to order in every night and textbooks that cost way more than they should, college can also be a money blackhole.


If you don't have a vault of cash back home like the trust fund babies or rich international kids, you probably need to save up and find something else to do in your low cost housing like me. Here's some tips you can use to accommodate your low cash stash.

Stock up on snacks

When I'm getting those late night cravings, my first instinct is GrubHub. Seamless. UberEats. With instant food right at your fingertips, tapping can become frequent and dangerous to your piggy bank.

Instead, hoard snacks in your room from extra meal swipes or free food events. Since I always have meal swipes left over at the end of the year, I space out my snack runs throughout. Then, when you're feeling peckish when your dining hall isn't open — or when you're just too lazy — you have snacks on hand to squash that hunger.

Download textbooks

Now, it's not the most legal thing but textbooks can get pretty pricey and become a considerable amount of your tuition — I once had a textbook that was $500. If you look in your college Facebook pages or GroupMe's, there's bound to be a document listing out links to different PDF versions of textbooks.

If you're too caught up in your morals — hey, I get it — be sure to find used textbooks or rent them. Amazon has an amazing program where you rent textbooks for half of the cost or even lower and they give you a free return shipping label.

Utilize your university's free amenities

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Free yoga classes? Midnight breakfasts? Subway pass giveaways? Most universities will host numerous events giving out free food or swag to their students — especially in the first and last few weeks of classes.

In the welcome week of my freshman year, I managed to hoard free t-shirts, toiletries, iced tea, laundry bags and a bunch of other random stuff that I used throughout the year. I've also gone to stress relief breakfasts and free restaurant nights which saved me from having to fend for myself.

Find different, cheaper ways to hang out

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Do your friends go out every weekend? Is thirsty Thursday a tradition in your frat? Going out all the time can cut into your savings and deplete your cash quickly. Instead, find different ways of hanging out that don't require money.

Have a movie night or take a walk along a scenic route in your city or town. Get together in your dorm and put on some music. Bust out the twinkly lights and the leftover weed your Tinder date left in your room. If you absolutely need some libations, buy some cheap liquor from the store and mix it with some dining hall lemonade.

Go to class and study

Alright, I get that we all can't always get to that morning class, but skipping a lecture can amount to some very real circumstances. I had five classes that met about 120 times during one semester. My tuition — not including room and board — came out to about $23,000 per semester. That means every time I skipped class I was wasting about $191.

And if you fail a class? That just means you'll need to make it up for even more money. So, suck it up and get your butt out of bed because you're literally flushing money down the toilet every minute you waste.

Invest in a coffee maker

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Starbucks isn't going to hold on that college kid budget. Buy a cheap coffee maker at your local basics store and you're pretty much set. I, myself, use a French press but that's only because I think it's fun.

Brew your own coffee in the morning or at night if you're pressed for time. Heat it up or pour it over ice when you get up and you'll be golden, Ponyboy.

Now, these tips only come after you've cut all the costs in your full tuition. Be sure to find low cost housing, apply for scholarships and find the meal plan with the most bang for your buck. Going to college is a privilege that few can have.

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