7 Ways to Save Money as a College Student


Mariana Wheeler

Setting a budget as college student is easier said than done.

If you feel like you’re barely making ends meet in college, you’re not alone. With rising tuition costs, increasing gas prices,  and demanding bills, it’s almost impossible for your bank account to keep up. Sometimes staying on track means changing old habits, strict spending, and cutting down the social life. Dedicating your time to that $10.10 minimum wage job in Hawaii, focusing on classes, and putting priorities first goes a long way.

As a senior now, I often think back to when I was just a freshman living at Hale Lokelani going to class five days a week while also working four just to get by on my own. The thought of saving money when we have a million other priorities on our minds is easy to forget. As a commuter, part-time worker, and full-time student, here are seven tried and true ways I’ve learned to save money as a college student. 

Practice Your Cooking Skills

You don’t have to be Gordon Ramsay to make a perfect meal at home. Instead of going out every day and buying food on campus that quickly adds up, buy groceries and meal prep for the week. Eating right is a necessity, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. Get together with roommates to share the cost of groceries to prepare a meal that reminds you of home. Save those leftovers for those days you don’t feel like cooking and just need a quick bite.  

Explore Campus Amenities 

Check out activities that are available oncampus hosted by OSAL (Office of Student Activities and Leadership) such as movie nights, free food events, and entertainment. Don’t waste money on a gym membership when there is Carlson Fitness center right on campus that is free and open frequently.  The Sullivan Family Library allows students to rent books, movies, and other essentials for free. Take advantage of free counseling services on campus at the Student Services near the Kokua Ike building throughout the semester when life just becomes a bit too much to handle alone. 

Buy in Bulk 

Get a membership card at stores like Sam’s Club for only $45 a year or Costco’s $120 annual fee where it’s easier to buy items in bulk that will last you for a while before having to return to the store again. Avoid buying name brand nonperishable items and stick to the generic brand such as Great Value from Walmart. Buy all of the essentials you need for a portion of the price such as soap, energy drinks, hygiene products, dry snacks, and laundry items. 

Limit subscriptions 

Split subscription payments for services such as Netflix  ($9.99 a month), a Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN bundle ($13.99 a month) with friends, family, or roommates. Everyone is able to enjoy their favorite streaming services at half the cost when sharing accounts. A streaming service such as Spotify has student rates that reduces half the cost of listening to music. Use free student subscriptions as a student like Amazon Prime for six months and Microsoft 365 Education that comes with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, and so much more. 

Rent, Don’t Buy 

Textbooks and class materials are known for being infamously expensive. Before hitting up the bookstore or buying a brand new book online, ask fellow students around campus if they have their old materials from a class. If not, rent from Amazon, which is the best way to save money by the time the semester finishes. Don’t waste over $100 on a book you will only use one time or just for a couple of months. 

Take Advantage of Student Discounts 

Although going back to school sounds bad, it does have its perks. Apple offers students with MacBook Pro deals and Adobe offers all of their apps for just $19.99 a month with their sales happening right around the beginning of the school year. Remember that student ID wherever you go. Discounts are available from everything including clothing, to laptops, and notebooks computers. Being a student can be convenient with deals from favorites such as Best Buy, Spotify, Hulu, and other companies. 

Rely on Public Transportation 

Having a car sounds nice, but it’s easy to forget to consider all of the responsibilities a vehicle comes with. Luckily, living in Hawaii, bus services offer student deals when purchased through any university. The University Bus Program or U-Pass is a reduced rate pass tailored to the needs of Hawaii’s university students. Instead of paying over $200 for a commuter parking pass, pay half the price for a semester full of convenient transportation. Paying insurance, gas, and maintenance on a car is something “The Fast and the Furious” forgets to remind us about.