Tips on Saving (and Making) Money in College

One of my good friends told me the other day that she heard someone say, “The richest you’ll ever be is when you’re in college.” I was a little confused at first because I felt like I had way more money to spend on extra things when I was in high school. But then she explained to me that when you’re in college, you can really do just about whatever you want, whenever you want. She told me, “If you want to take a random weekend trip to Colorado, you just find a way to do it!”

While it may not be the case for everyone, college is often a time when you don’t have a serious full-time job, piles of bills or children to be responsible for. For those of you that do have those responsibilities, I commend you! You are an incredible human and I hope that you can take away at least a little bit from this post. But if you’re living on campus and trying not to think of the loans you’ll be paying back in a couple years or so, then your financial responsibilities are probably the lowest they will ever again be in your life.

Seize the time that you have now to make what you’re doing really count — in whatever way is most meaningful to you. For me, that weekend Colorado trip sounds fantastic. So here are a few ways you can make the extra bucks to get you there:

Get a campus job. There are seriously so many. On Bethel’s campus, there are opportunities to make money everywhere. Check out the campus jobs database to see a good list of the jobs available. Even if the database says there are no current openings, e-mail the supervisor listed if you are interested. A lot of times they will keep you in mind if there is a sudden opening or if they need extra help. Career Services e-mails out community jobs as well, such as picking up sticks at someone’s house after a storm or doing housework for an elderly couple. One of the best things about being in college and having a job (especially a campus job) is that people are extremely understanding of your schedule and are very flexible and willing to work with you. Ask around — there is something out there for everyone, even if it’s a couple hours a week.

Eat smart. If you’re on a campus meal plan, get your money’s worth! I go to the Caf almost every day for breakfast (as well as lunch and dinner most days), which is a meal that a lot of people skip. Eating breakfast not only helps me not only have energy for a busy day, but it also assures me in knowing that I’m getting what I pay for with the meal plan. If you want to do something different, try making something in the residence hall kitchens. You can buy a box of pasta and a jar of pasta sauce for pretty cheap, and cooking it/eating it makes you feel fancy. If you want to go out to eat, don’t get the most expensive thing on the menu. Take what you don’t eat back to your room and put in your fridge for when you get hungry at 11:30 p.m. (because we all do). Also check out the Applebee’s late-night menu. You can get a whole order of mozz sticks for under $5!

Have style on a budget. The shoes I’m wearing right now? Five bucks on the clearance shelf at Target. My shirt? Marshall’s, $6. My cardigan? Free — my friends hosted a “clothes swap” where we all brought things we didn’t wear any more and put them out for grabs for any of us to take. What didn’t get taken was then donated to our local thrift store. Speaking of thrift stores, they are also great, especially on a college budget. It might take some time to find stuff you like, but take a study break and go buy a couple new things for your wardrobe for super cheap (plus, thrift stores = recycling clothes = happy earth :)). I’ve found some great items at Et Cetera in Newton.

My super cheap outfit!

My super cheap outfit!

Bargain shop for textbooks. Are you buying/renting your textbooks exclusively from Amazon or Chegg? While these are great companies and do offer good deals, sometimes (not always) there are cheaper options out there. Bethel has its very own student-run Facebook page called Thresher Exchange. This is a place for students to buy and sell textbooks as well as other things such as couches, TVs, fridges, etc. If you’re in need of a book, post on Thresher Exchange and see if anyone on campus has it! They’ll probably sell it to you cheaper than the big book companies. Also, search online for deals on textbooks. I got my Molecular Genetics textbook from a lesser-known rental company called, and it only cost me $11 (versus about $30 with other rental sites).

Sell your stuff! That guitar you never play anymore and never will again? Sell it. How about your bike that you never ride, or that iPod you got several years ago, or the many textbooks from classes past? Sell them! Post them on Thresher Exchange, Harvey County Buy/Sell/Trade, or similar places to make a few extra bucks. If you’re offering a good price, someone will probably pick up what you’re putting down.

Hope this helps. I know I’ll be trying to follow my own advice and save up for that weekend trip to Colorado!