Free Advice: 4 Ways to Penny Pinch During College

Attending college also means paying for college. Whether you’ve got savings from your parents, are paying as you go, or recently won $2.5 million from the Powerball, you’ll have to become well versed in the art of penny pinching. Because college is expensive.

According to a recent article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, both Augsburg College and the University of Minnesota are actively encouraging students to control their spending during their college years so they don’t have to live on less later in life.  A new program called “Money Matters” will teach students who enroll how to save money and prioritize what they buy. Perhaps this new program was implemented because of Augsburg’s 5% tuition hike this year. It could also have been because students often rack up large amounts of credit card debt during college. Either way, it’s ironic to many students on campus because Augsburg is charging tuition for the course…

A large portion of the “Money Matters” course focuses on wants versus needs. What do you want and what is it that you need? While some students may need to take this course, here’s some free advice on things you may want to give up until post graduation:

Shopping Sprees. Oh, I know. Shopping is a fun, recreational and social activity that helps blow off steam after a stressful week and before a big night out with friends. Try sharing clothes instead or hosting a clothes swap party! Even if you’re shopping at cheap outlets, you’re still spending money on something you may only wear once.

Coffee. I do NOT mean GIVE UP COFFEE. As a huge coffee drinker, in good faith I cannot ask that of a college student. But, you can drink for much cheaper. Chains like Starbucks charge way more than 7-11 or McDonald’s. A small, black coffee is way cheaper than a large latte. Also, you can buy cheap, single-serving instant coffee packets to carry with you or keep in your dorm.  Or get a coffee maker!

Books: Used vs. New. Buy used books. It is so simple on Ebay! Many college bookstores will also offer used books mixed in with their brand new copies. If you don’t see them, ask the staff where their used book section is located.

Cars. Public transportation is much less expensive than owning a car. Cars guzzle money through gas, insurance and any maintenance that comes up. If there is public transportation available on your campus, use it! Also, parking on a college campus can be a pain in the neck.

These are a few things you can do, but there are always moments where you can ask yourself, “Do I need this? Or do I just want this?” It’s hard to graduate with debt, so work hard now to avoid pains in the future. You’ll thank yourself!

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  1. Tim says:

    Thank you for the advice, these are some great tips. I’m in college myself and therefor on a rather tight budget, but I just don’t like the fact that penny pinching has to be something negative. Because it can be fun if you do it right! For example, sign up on and start bartering! It will satisfy our shopping urge, you get rid of unused stuff and you’ll get what you need for free. Now how does that sound?

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