12 Financial Tips to Take with You to College

To start, there actually isn’t a way to financially prepare yourself for college, unless you win the lottery.
The obvious advice to give to a first-year college student is save your money and set a budget… Duh! We all already know that saving your money and setting a budget is the key to being financially prepared for anything, so I’m going to take you on another route.

If that part-time job you picked up during high school and living at home has given you the freedom to blow money on whatever you want, whenever you want, [1] stop spending now, before you’re eating Ramen for breakfast and cake mix straight from the box. No matter how hard you try, there’s a good chance you’ll feel broke by the end of first semester; I’m just here to help you make it until then.

The cost of decorating your dorm room, attempting to grocery shop, and buying all of the random things you never realized you were so blessed to get for free at home adds up quickly. [2] Take as much paper towels, toilet paper, and soap from your parents’ house as you possibly can!

“Entry is Free w/ Student ID”

Not knowing all of the fun and exciting things there will be to do on campus is the main thing that makes budget setting before you get there difficult, but [3] there are so many FREE things to do on campus (well, not completely free, your tuition is definitely paying for it) so take advantage of all of them! Students get free entry into many sporting events and performances happening on campus and they are great places to make friends!


Making new friends, becoming a part of something bigger than you, and doing what you love when you get to college is the point. You’ll never get that first year of college back, so don’t let finances be a factor. Instead, just remind yourself to [4] have your own money saved if you’re interested in extracurricular activities or Greek life.



“Students get 10% off!”

Everyone loves students, it’s true! Make sure you know what restaurants, venues, movie theatres, etc. in your area that offer [5] student discounts; you won’t regret it. College towns are jam-packed with student deals, but they won’t do you any good if you don’t know about them!

This is another obvious one, but it’s true. Being a college student means being broke, and being broke is 100% normal, but [6] if you have any 1’s or 5’s lying around, stash them! This is one of the best saving hacks and is proven to add up quicker than you think!

[7] If you’re not willing to spend $40 on a $20 pair of shoes, then don’t use student loan money on them!
The purpose of student loans is to assist with tuition, room and board, fees, books, transportation, parking, or maybe the rental of a school computer. If the amount of your student loan is greater than the amount of charges, your school will send you a big fat check or deposit it into your bank account. This money comes with a thing called interest and is NOT free.

Your best bet is to pretend that student loan money doesn’t exist. Move it to a different account, give it to your parents; whatever you have to do to keep yourself from spending it. Believe me; it’s better to be broke now than in ten years.

What about books?

Books in Cart[8] Renting your books or buying them from outside sources can save you a HUGE hunk of change. Believe it or not, Amazon Textbook Rental is a thing. You can rent, keep track of, and return books all in the same place. You can use your current Amazon log-in or create an account. Chegg is also a very popular place for renting, buying, and selling back your textbooks. This site is full of other resources, such as online tutors, test prep, and study apps that you should take advantage of.

[9] Cafeteria food is actually pretty good in college.
Living in the dorms usually comes bundled with some sort of meal plan. You have paid for these meals and will never get them back, so eat at the cafeteria when you can! Most colleges actually have pretty good food, this isn’t high school anymore (and you don’t have to tip)!\

[10] Your Student ID may have money on it.
Some universities provide a balance on your account to use at different places on campus. At many colleges, your student ID can be set up and used to make purchases on campus by charging it to your tuition or it can act as a bank account with a certain amount available in it for you to spend. This is great if you are trying to budget because if there isn’t money in your account, you can’t spend it!

[11] Don’t fall for any student credit card offers. College is the worst time in your life to be racking up extra debt and credit card companies know exactly how to suck students in with high interest credit cards. If a credit card is a must, get one from your primary financial institution.

For the worker bees out there, the excitement of moving to a new place can include finding an awesome, fun, new job! While it is important to still make money, DO NOT let a random job come between you and school. The first semester is a huge reality check, so if you’re in the market for a new job, it may be best to get settled in first or [12] find a job on campus that will work directly with your class schedule.

Taking these twelve tips with you to college AND taking advantage of them is the only proven way to make your cash last a bit longer.