How to Live like a Student and Save Money

Many advice columns presume that college students have come straight from home and don’t really know how to manage their money. In many cases, this may be true; nevertheless, once they realise that their funds are limited, students are forced to learn how to manage their money very quickly. As a result, there are a number of lessons that college students can teach on living frugally.

Make your own entertainment

One thing college students do exceptionally well is to make their own entertainment, often for very little money. In the summer, make the most of the good weather and spend the day outdoors with friends and family. Local parks and beauty spots are generally free to enter and, if you take a picnic, you won’t need to splash out on an expensive lunch. Instead of going out to a restaurant to dinner, take it in turns with friends to cook at home. Afterwards, get out the board games and take a trip down memory lane. If you play musical instruments, have impromptu jam sessions. Be creative, have fun and save some money.

Share accommodation

Students can rarely afford to live alone and so live in halls of residence or shared houses and flats. If you are in a difficult financial position, that could be an excellent option for you. Rent out a room in your house if you own it; if not, consider renting a room in someone else’s home, or move back home for a few months. It doesn’t have to be a long-term thing if you are not happy living with other people, but it will allow you to save up and pay off any debts you may have accrued. Sharing a house also means sharing the bills, so you can’t lose.

Cook simple meals

Some college students do live very cheaply on noodles and fast food; this can be very cheap, but it isn’t necessary. Provided that students have access to simple cooking facilities, there is no reason why they can’t come up with simple, nutritious meals that can be shared amongst friends. A slow cooker can be a particularly good buy, because it is easy to throw in vegetables, beans, meat, stock and seasoning, then leave the meal to slow cook. Non-students may want to look back to their college days and remember how good simple meals tasted, even though cooked on basic equipment.

Buy in bulk

Students often live together in a house or flat and so organise their shopping as a group instead of individuals. This makes it much easier to consider buying in bulk. Basics such as rice, flour, potatoes and pasta are often much cheaper to buy in large bags, but many individuals forget this, thinking that they just need a small bag to get them through a couple of weeks. Buying in bulk does need a bit of preparation; for example, you may not want to pick up a huge bag of rice with your weekly shop when you don’t have a car, but there is no reason why you shouldn’t work things out if you plan.

Look out for discounts

College students have a lot of access to discounts. Having a student card, such as the UK NUS student card, provides discounts in a lot of shops, restaurants and facilities. Message boards and college magazines are also full of discounts and vouchers. Just because you are no longer a student doesn’t mean that you can’t make the most of discounts in your local area. Get used to the idea of scanning local newspapers and magazines – often those that come through the door for free – and look out for deals in your local supermarkets. 

College students are forced to live frugally out of necessity; if you find yourself in a difficult financial position, you can do a lot worse than take a leaf out of their book and cut down on your living costs.