College Budgeting- 10 Tips for University Students Across the Country

College Budgeting

This August, many college students will be looking forward to busy days of shopping for new clothes, new books, and maybe packing up rooms.

Whether on a scholarship, loan, or other financial aid, college students need to know these basic tips that can help them budget their money and save a huge amount on college bills.

Plan Your Budget

When you need to tighten your belt, the first and best thing to do is to create a budget management plan. This prevents you from overspending. There is an app called “Mint” that makes budget management easier for busy or forgetful students.

Forcing yourself to create a budget plan includes categorizing the things you need and the things you want. When you can see your wants in black and white, it will be easier for you to find cheaper or even free alternatives.

Buy, Rent, Sell Second-Hand Books

Buy, Rent, Sell Used, or your Second-Hand Books. There’s no need to buy a shiny, new book when you can get second-hand ones. Local book centers sometimes have used books, and student organizations often have book drives that will allow you to rent the things you need.

You can even order used books online through retailers like Amazon. The great thing is you can also sell your old books! Sites like BigWords, AbeBooks, and ValoreBooks, among many, will allow you to sell your textbooks, with free shipping labels. You can even sell them at eBay.

There are also services like BookFinder, which lets you find certain books across different retailers so that it’s easier for you to compare prices and book conditions.

Barnes and Noble at Boston University began offering textbooks for rent since 2011. Aside from that, B&N also offers digital versions of the textbooks, which can be rented or borrowed through a Nook e-reader or mobile app.

Students can borrow the book for a total of 180 days before it is automatically returned to the B&N online store. College students also have the option of buying the ebooks, which are a lot cheaper compared to their printed counterparts.

Recommended website to Rent or Sell your College Books

Split the Rent With Someone

Find suitable roommates or housemates to split the cost of rent with, even if you would rather have a room or studio to yourself. All around campus are students looking for someone to split the fee with, so take the time to look at ads and announcements on bulletin boards.

Shop at Places that Offer Student Discount

Your school ID is a powerful tool that can take you places. But when you’re on a tight budget, you’ll need your ID to get student discounts at various stores. As much as possible, don’t go for expensive brands. Buy the discounted ones that are still good alternatives.

Remember your needs and wants and stick to buying what are necessary.

Sell Things to Get Money

It’s not just books you can sell. You can make money out of other things you don’t need anymore. If you have some clothes that no longer fit, you can sell them on Poshmark, Tradesy, and ThredUp. If you want to sell furniture, you can have a garage sale or sell it on Craigslist or eBay!

Pay Debts & Open a Savings Account

Pay your debts and open a savings account that earns interest. Many college students have their own credit cards, yet most of them don’t know how to manage their finances. In 2008, the average college senior had over $3,173 in credit card debts!


You need to pay your debts as early as possible so you don’t pay extra for late fees. At the same time, it’s advisable to just open a savings account that earns interest.

These accounts are usually very cheap and they can help you separate your savings from your expenses.

Get a Basic Phone or Internet Plan

Get the phone plan that lets you call and text; using the internet can be done with Wifi, which you can get at your college campus or at your apartment. You can also use the library computers.

If you find yourself needing constant internet access for your schoolwork, keep in mind that you don’t need other entertainment access like Netflix. It’s great when you want to chill and relax, but not so much when you’re straining your budget.

Eat In or Get a Meal Plan

As much as possible, cook your own meals or avail a college meal plan. The University of Cincinnati has a meal plan that lets you enjoy discounts in every café or restaurant located throughout the Uptown campus.

Students living inside the campus can enjoy the Residential Meal Plan, while non-residential college students can use the Campus Dining Pass.

Boston University has a meal plan that costs as low as $5,000 a year that includes residence dining rooms, restaurants, and even Starbucks.

Buy School Supplies in Bulk

You know you’re going to need a lot more than two pens for an entire school year, so if you can find money-saving bulks, get them! Calculate how many of the supplies you’ll need and weigh whether buying in bulk will save you more money in the long run than buying individually (it usually will).

Even better, buy these items during a sales tax holiday and save a ton of money.

Buy Items From Your College Stores

Michigan State University hosts “University Stores”, their very own warehouse facility that contains supplies for purchase and distribution. Like at Stanford University.

MSU students can buy supplies from this site and get various discounts on goods.

They also get lower prices, free delivery, and easy returns, among others. This means that when you want to send packages to someone, you’ll get lower prices and an easier way to monitor your delivery.

The University of Alabama Supply Store also allows students to buy and sell their textbooks, and purchase supplies for pets, jewelry set, phone accessories, and much more. Students get lower prices and free shipping.

Saving money requires innovation and sometimes settling for less, but creating a budget plan also prepares you for better financial situations in the future.

Rob Clark admin staff managing editor

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