Sunday, April 1, 2012

How to be a thrifty college student

On a college subsidised holiday to Lanzarote last year, visiting a cactus garden

Coming to the end of a four year college degree I know how expensive college can be; fees, books, rent, food, clothes, travel, socialising etc. etc. College can eat up every cent you have, but there are many small everyday ways to save money that I have learnt from experience.

Education expenses

-First and foremost, study and attend lectures, if college is expensive that's nothing compared to how expensive it will be if you have to repeat the year.
-Buy used textbooks when you can and resell them when your finished with them, take full advantage of your library and try google books to see if you can read some for free. is great for finding secondhand textbooks.
-Take advantage of whatever amenities your college of choice is offering free of charge such as the gym, swimming pool, medical centre, wifi or tennis courts. It's not often in life you get things for free so make the most of this while you can.
-Be aware of any grants, scholarships and awards that might help you with the financial burden.
-Keep a spending diary. This is useful for all aspects of your college life because you can pinpoint exactly where you money is going and where you can cut back.

-Make a shopping list before you start spending. Food can be expensive, breakfast, lunch, dinner, deserts, snacks it can really add up over time so you need to plan your meals and shopping carefully.
-Get club cards, reward points for shopping means that you can get money off vouchers when your spending adds up. Collecting coupons can also cut prices.
-Look for the reduced section. These chops are going out of date tomorrow so they've slashed the price, that's not a problem for you if you eat if for dinner today.
-Reduce meat in your meals. Meat usually makes up the majority of the price of your meal so have a meat free day. Vegetarian pasta bake is an incredibly cheap meal and is very filling and healthy.
-Freeze leftovers. So you've made said pasta bake, or Shepard's pie/soup/pasta sauce and there's some leftover. Keep icecream tubs and takeaway containers to freeze leftovers for dinner for another day.
-Grow your own. You don't need a garden or a large place to grow food, all you need is a window sill. I have grown lettuce, basil, parsley and peppers in plastic pots on a plate in my windowsill in college. It's rewarding, tastes great and means you don't have to buy expensive herbs or lettuce that will wilt in your fridge. Just remember to water them!
-Pack your own lunch. If you find it hard to have time in the mornings, you could make it the night before and leave it in your fridge.
-If your living with a group of people, shopping and cooking meals together can often prove much cheaper.

-Fortunately unlike school and many work places, in college you probably don't have any dress code so you can have fun with what you wear and are limited by where you shop.
-Shop in charity shops. These are full of hidden gems, don't be put off by sizing, super long lengths or a detail you don't like, these can be easily changed with a scissors and some basic sewing skills. Charity shops are also excellent places to buy cheap books, DVDs and CDs.
-Accept all hand me downs. A little customisation can do wonders so never turn your nose up at hand-me-downs. Even if it's the most out of shape top, if it has a nice pattern it can become a cute pillow cover.
-Experiment with layering. If you have a few basic go to pieces in your wardrobe like a nice tee, leggings, jeans and cardigan, adding colourful interesting layers and accessories from charity shops can give them a new lease of life.


-Join clubs and societies. Make friends and enjoy the events they organise like free lectures, parties, quizzes and even subsidised holidays. Being an active member of college clubs is also great for your CV.
-Your student card can get you great discounts for the cinema, shopping and travel. If your travelling abroad they can also come in handy, for instance in Paris many galleries and sights give reduced or free admission to students.
-Want to catch up with family and friends far away forget about long expensive phone calls, skype them instead, you actually get to see them too!

Your Space:
-In college, your space can be small, cramped or dated looking but there's still alot you can do with them to give them a personal feel.
-Start with the walls. Posters, photos and paintings are a cheap, cheerful way to brighten up your room.
-Next lighting. Candles and fairy lights are not expensive and work wonders. Scented candles also make many a grotty college house smell homely.
-Add bright cushions, quilt covers and blankets. Primark does very affordable bright home accessories and you can add some pieces from charity shops like pretty china.
-A few plants really make a place look fresh and summery. Just take some clean bean or soup tins, cover them in fabric or wallpaper and pop a pretty flower plant inside.
-Renting with a group of friends is a good way to save money, remember to pay all bills on time and reduce costs by turning of lights, heating and keeping showers short.
-Heating your place is ridiculously expensive so do yourself a favour and buy a hot water bottle to keep yourself warm at night and cut back on heating.

Making Money:
-Get a part time job. If there's part time work in local hotels, pubs, shops available, why not work at the weekends to subsides your college expenses.
-Give grinds. If there's an area you excel in why not help others for a small charge. If you a maths genius or a skilled musician this could make you some money.
-Set up a savings account. Save a small amount every week and this will add up over time and you'll have some money when you really need it. I personally am a big fan of piggy banks for dropping your change or tips from work into when you come home.

College is an amazing experience but it's important to try and avoiding gathering unnecessary debt while there. Let me know any off your tips for saving money in college I'd love to hear them.

P.s. Images property of thriftylilpixie. Follow thriftylilpixie on Blogspot and Bloglovin.


  1. What a massive cactus! Great tips! thanks for sharing!

  2. Thank you so much for the sweet comment you left on my blog! Such a great post, the tips are very useful even if one isn't in college :)

  3. Woow that cactus is nice!
    Great note Dear :). Visit my blog :)


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