Budgeting Tips for College Students

  • Use an App
  • Don’t Live in the Dorms
  • Downgrade
  • Consider Lo-Fi Fun
  • Strategize

Five Essential Budgeting Tips for Students

Making the decision to attend college or university is a momentous one – mentally, emotionally, and financially. In addition to the expense of school itself, each student must ensure their material livelihood while they’re studying. Financial stability and being able to meet everyday basic needs are critical to the success of every student.

The key to financial stability during the college years and beyond is creating and adhering to a budget. Here are five budgeting tips for college students.

Related resource: Top 10 Online Colleges for a Bachelor’s Degree

Use an App

Budgeting apps are the norm for Millennials and GenXers, whether they’re in college or not. Lots of free apps are available for this purpose, but no matter the selection, it should help the user keep track of your bills and enable the user to mark them as paid, create budgets by categories, and keep tabs on account balances. Most are easy to use and work on a variety of mobile devices.

Don’t Live in the Dorms

Dormitories are nearly always the most expensive housing option available to students. If the student is on a tight budget (and most students are), they should look for housing in the communities surrounding the college. Whether they live alone in a studio or with three other roommates in a four-bedroom apartment, they’re going to save a lot of money on housing options while still making it easy to commute to class every day. Some universities even offer lists of apartments available to students each year off-campus, so make sure to ask if informational resources are available.


Downgrading one’s lifestyle may seem a little daunting at first, but little cuts add up. The student can and should downgrade their data plan, and use their available data more wisely while utilizing WiFi wherever possible. Most internet plans can be downgraded. Shopping at less expensive grocery stores and farmer’s markets can save serious cash. Grabbing a travel mug for your coffee and having them refill it at a favorite coffee shop can also save cash because refills cost less. Even better, making coffee, espresso, and lattes at home to take to class will save lots of dollars each week.

Consider Lo-Fi Fun

While it can certainly be fun to attend big nightclubs and high-end bars, students on a budget should consider cheaper fun. Getting involved in campus organizations that put on regular free or cheap events can be a fantastic way to blow off steam and make new friends. Gathering with friends at a tea bar or coffee shop can save a lot of money versus going to bars. Joining meetups that feature less expensive fun, like board-gaming, video games, or book discussions are also great ideas.


Everyone gets cabin fever, especially students who are driven to work hard at school. Strategizing your forays out can help shave dollars off a good time. For example, eating before heading out to coffee or an aperitif with friends can reduce the amount of money spent; the same as limiting how many drinks the student buys during nights out or sticking with bar specials that can save them cash. Sticking with the budget, along with strategizing, can help ensure financial stability and significant savings.

The importance of budgeting for students has never been greater. According to Forbes, developing good budgeting habits while still in college will help students live within their means – and help assure a more successful and stable financial future.

Related Resources: