I am the average college student. By that I mean I graduated with $30,000 in student loans. However, I would have easily accumulated over $60,000 if I hadn’t taken advantage of money saving opportunities while attending Michigan State University. Long gone are the days where you could earn enough over the summer to pay for the entire school year (this was true for my father-in-law!). Don’t be discouraged though; there are plenty of ways to save and earn money while in college that will still allow you to enjoy your 4 years. You can learn how my husband and I paid off that $30,000 in 9 months and I’ll also share 3 saving tips for college students that I implemented while in school.
1. Apply to be a mentor/RA
I lived in the dorms my freshman year and then stuck around for another 3 years as a mentor. I gained some valuable wisdom that you can’t put a price tag on like leadership training, diversity training, conflict resolution, and learning how to create an environment for people to develop relationships. Being a mentor also helped me out a great deal financially. Room and board cost around $8,000 per year (I attended MSU from 2006-2010). My housing and food were free since I was a mentor. That’s $24,000 I saved over 3 years!
I did miss out when friends paired up to live together in an apartment or rented home but I can’t say this was a big deal to me for multiple reasons: I got to roll out of bed at 7:55 am and wear sweats and slippers to my 8am class in the basement of my dorm. Everyone else had to wake up at 6:30am in order to catch a bus to campus. Also, my dorm had great food with plenty of fresh and healthy options so I never got sick of it. Instead of spending my own money to eat out I usually met up with friends who had a meal plan at a cafeteria on campus.
2. Take advantage of swag
There were other financial perks that added up over time from being a mentor. I didn’t have to pay for items like toilet paper, garbage bags, paper, or printing. I even got to print my own wedding invitations for free. There were endless opportunities to get free stuff by attending events on campus. I loved getting free massages during exam week!
Most of the dorms had their own workout facility that cost less than the rec centers on campus (say $40 per semester versus $120). I got a free pass to the gym in my dorm by signing up to be a monitor 2 hours per week. The gym wasn’t anything special- a couple treadmills, dumbbells, exercise balls and some weight machines. However, I was much more likely to workout since I didn’t have to bundle up and drive anywhere in the winter. It also gave me a 2-hour window to be extra productive with homework and studying.
3. Get a non-minimum wage job
Don’t settle for minimum wage. I wanted to earn a little extra income during the school year but I didn’t want to earn a measly $7.40/hour. By asking around I was able to land a position as a peer educator which involved teaching 1-hour health lessons at various high schools in the area. I could sign up to teach as many lessons as I wanted and I earned $9.25/hour. That was a lot of money for a college student when you consider minimum wage! I signed up for a few lessons on days I only had one or two classes to attend. Teaching from 8-12 and then attending my classes at 1pm allowed me to earn almost $40 each week for only 4 hours of work. There are always job postings all over campus that advertise above-minimum-wage pay. My first job I got out of college was as a personal assistant to a 19-year old! Just be sure it’s a legit job and not a scam. And, to improve your income you could always invest the money as the stock markets rise. Wealth Within is an excellent resource if you’re interested in investing – even as a college student.
“I wish I would have…”
If you know any college-bound family or friends, send them this article and comment with any tips you found helpful for saving money. I’m confident I’m not the only one who has thought “If only I knew about that” or “I wish I would have…” when it comes to saving money in college. Let’s help get the future generation get a head start with financial freedom, alright?
How did you save money in college? Provide your tips for college students in the comment section below!
This post has been written by Jessica from BudgetForHealth.com.
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.