Are You Wasting Money?

Ways to save money on a student budget

These days, students need to be extra careful not to go into debt while they are pursuing their education. Back in the days when people used cash, you could easily see and feel how much money you were spending. But today’s technologies—whether it’s Venmo, PayPal, Square, or credit cards—let you pay for almost anything with the touch of a button. This can lead to overspending if you’re not careful.

How can you be smarter about how you spend your money? How can you become more aware of what you are spending? Here are some pointers for getting control of your spending and making every dollar count.

Make a budget
This takes discipline, but if you keep track of your income and expenses, you can target areas where you need to cut back. The FAFSA website offers useful budgeting tips for students.

Know your wants vs. needs
Do you really need that new pair of shoes? Or can you get by with what you have? Knowing the difference between your wants and your needs can help you spend your money more carefully. When you’re a student, many of your “wants” will have to wait until you are earning a regular paycheck. One trick is to use the 24-hour rule. Wait 24 hours before making the purchase to consider whether you truly need it.

Watch the small things
When you’re living on a tight budget, even the small items can add up. Try these tips:

  • Bring your own water bottle instead of buying soda or bottled water
  • Make your own coffee instead of stopping at the coffee shop
  • Use coupons to save a little bit here and there
  • Eat in rather than eating out
  • Have friends over instead of going out
  • Brown bag your lunch rather than buying

Buy used items
It’s easier than ever to find good quality used items. For school textbooks, search for the cheapest deals online or at your school bookstore. Be sure to sell them back when the course is over. For other items, try Craigslist, eBay, yard sales, and flea markets. You can find some really great bargains!

Pay bills and credit cards on time
Paying off your credit cards in full is critical if you want to avoid debt. When you pay late or pay only the minimum amount, you will get stuck paying interest. Same goes with your regular monthly bills—don’t waste your precious money on late fees and interest!

Cut back on the vices
Smoking, even e-cigarettes and vaping, is expensive and unhealthy. Same goes for drinking and other vices. Quitting will be great for your health and your wallet!

Find free entertainment
Meeting new friends and socializing together is one of the greatest things about being a student. But going out doesn’t have to be expensive. Find free and low-cost events offered by your school or within your community. With a little searching, you may find free concerts, parks with hiking trails, free movie screenings, or other low-cost ideas.

Evaluate your monthly living expenses
Your everyday living expenses will eat up a large amount of your available money. What can you do to cut back? Try these tips:

  • Find a roommate or two: this can cut your living expenses dramatically
  • Can you live without a car? Try ride shares, public transportation, or biking to save the cost of owning a car
  • Shop around for better deals on your phone plan
  • Track how much are you spending on food. Is there a discount store where you could find better deals?

Search for scholarships
Most scholarships are geared toward high schoolers, but if you search online, you may be able to find scholarships for students who are already in post-secondary education. The scholarships page on Education Planner may help.

Consider a part-time job
If you can manage a part-time job and still keep up your studies, this might be a good option. Try to find a job that will be flexible so that you can put your studies first.

We hope these suggestions help put you on a better path to managing your budget as a student. By making smart decisions and paying attention to your spending, you can make your money stretch further. And when you’re a student, every little bit helps!


The American College for Medical Careers located in Orlando, Florida, provides tips and advice for our students in our weekly blog. Learn more about the training programs we offer by visiting us online!