Financial Literacy

Tips for Saving in College


Saving money while in college can be a hassle! Between paying for books, tuition, dorm necessities, snacks, and more while also working towards your degree- saving is not always top of mind! Check out our tips on how to better save money during your college years!


Written by Josephine Redfern 

Saving in College

Everyone is broke in college. Doesn’t matter who you are, you’re probably struggling with your finances. I know I am. We’re spending a lot of money to get our education, while also trying to have fun and maintain personal relationships. That’s why it’s important to learn ways to save your money for more fun in the future! While in college, the best way to start saving is to examine where you’re spending your money and then start cutting out the unnecessary expenses. Getting Taco Bell after your nights out, extra snacks at the grocery store, and that $5 coffee you get every morning can really add up over time. Throughout this blog I will talk about ways that can help you to cut out these unnecessary costs, as well as tips that should help you save some money during your crazy college years!

Utilize the Meal Plan

A lot of students don’t take full advantage of their meal plans. Look into the details and see if your plan can be used at grocery stores around your campus. Also, eat as many meals as you can in your school’s dining hall. It might not be the healthiest, most glamorous experience, but it will definitely save you more money in the long run. Buying a meal plan is actually cheaper than paying cash for most meals, which sounds surprising for a lot of students. If eating in the meal hall isn’t your style, or you just don’t enjoy the food, another option would be to use your meal plan at a grocery store for ingredients and then learn to cook in your dorm room! When living in my dorm room, I discovered there was a full size kitchen down the hall, but if this isn’t an option I’m including some dorm room recipe’s in this blog that can be made using a microwave or a small pancake griddle!

Dorm Room Recipes

Taco in a Bag

This is a great replacement for all those meals you eat at Taco Bell, and definitely a healthier option as well!

  • Ingredients
    • ¼ cup seasoned ground beef
    • 1 bag of nacho flavored chips
    • Mexican cheese blend
    • Lettuce
  • Microwave your ground beef
  • Add ingredients to bag of chips

Ramen Pad Thai

If you’re craving pad thai but don’t have the money to go to a restaurant or order take-out, give this recipe a try!

Cook your ramen like normal, but only add about half of the seasoning packet. To the broth, add a little bit of fish sauce, and some pepper flakes. Add any other veggies that you want and have available. Pad thai and ramen are great because anything you choose to add in will taste great! If you want to add meat, make sure you add it when the broth is still boiling hot because it will cook the meat for you.

Egg and Veggies Bagel

I know that I am guilty of craving Starbucks every morning, especially their delicious breakfast foods. If you are like me, this recipe will be a great replacement.

  • Ingredients
    • Bagel
    • Egg whites (you can buy these in a carton!)
    • Spinach leaves
    • Tomato
    • Avocado
    • Salt
    • Hot sauce
    • Cheese
  • Toast your bagel
  • In a small bowl, stir together your spinach, salt and egg whites
    • Microwave this mixture for about 1 minute 30 seconds, making sure to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t overflow
  • Put cheese on bagel, spoon egg on top, and then garnish with avocado, tomato and hot sauce!

Student ID Discounts

One of the easiest ways to save money throughout college is to take your student ID with you everywhere you go. Every time you make a purchase, ask if there is a student discount available. You will be surprised at how often you can get 10%, 15%, or even 20% off your merchandise or food. There are also great web extensions and apps that either give you money back or apply student discounts to different purchases. For example, Unidays is an app that has hundreds of discount codes just for students to use! I use it all the time at my favorite stores and restaurants. If you don’t take your student ID with you everywhere you go, you might be missing out on a lot of saved money! It’s also a good idea to look at free activities at your college that you can get into with your student ID. On the weekends there’s usually things going on that you can get into just by presenting it.

Work on Your Financial Literacy

Finally, in order to get better at saving your money, you need to understand the details of how your money is being spent and how it works. Look at our previous blogs on the UHM Foundation’s website as well as our financial literacy resource BALANCE’s material for help with your financial literacy skills! I would also recommend learning how your student loans work. Before I understood the way that my student loans work, I felt very in the dark and like I couldn’t contribute to my college education. However, after learning about the details of my college fund and loans I have been able to make more informed decisions on how I spend my money. For instance, I make sure that my unsubsidized loans are cancelled before I pay tuition as this will personally be saving me money in the long run. When you learn how your finances work you are more able to make educated decisions and choose for yourself what is helping or harming you financially.

College is stressful, but your financial situation shouldn’t be adding crazy amounts of extra stress to your life. By taking your money into your own hands and becoming educated on how you spend it, you will relieve a lot of your worries. If you need more resources remember to check out more of the Union Home Mortgage blogs as well as our free resource, BALANCE.