Making & Saving Ca$h in College
We’ve discussed applying for financial aid and scholarships in previous blogs, and we’re all aware of how expensive tuition, books, and housing can get. However, what about your pocket money in college? No matter how frugal you are, you’ll still occasionally want new clothes, restaurant meals, and maybe even a treat or two on your precious weekends off. If you don’t intend to hold a steady job while you’re a full-time student, there are still ways to earn. Today, we’re sharing our tips on making and saving money in college, and stretching your dollar, so you’ll have money for the fun stuff!
To make some extra money…
- Babysit! I wasn’t able to commit to a regularly-scheduled job in college, so babysitting was perfect. I connected to a few families on Care.com, and would watch their children while they went on date nights. Not only did I get paid, I was able to study or do homework after the little ones went to bed! I also worked at a church nursery on Sunday morning, which was easy, didn’t conflict with any classes, and added a bit to my bank account.
- Walk dogs or pet sit. If you love furry friends, this is the perfect gig. Not only is it relatively easy, playing with animals is an excellent way to de-stress! You can connect with pet owners on Care.com or the Wag app.
- Tutor! If you’re a pro in a certain subject, offer your services to other students. I had a great friend who was an Engineering major, and he helped me pass introductory physics as an English major. Not only are you making money, you’re helping fellow students and brushing up on your own skills!
- Become a freelancer. If you’re studying English, you can find freelance writing and editing work online. It’s a relatively easy way to make some extra cash, and you can do it in your spare time! You can also find freelance work doing graphic design, translating, etc. Get an account on Upwork.com and see if there is anything that strikes your interest!
- Sell stuff on Etsy! If you’re a crafty person, why not make a profit? One of my friends unwinds by making bracelets with handmade beads. She sold them in her spare time and made some extra cash to use towards whatever she wanted. It didn’t take any time away from her academics, so it was perfect! Browse Etsy and see the kinds of homemade items people are selling. See if you get any ideas!
- Sell your stuff. Don’t sell anything you need – and please, no matter how much you need money, please don’t sell an organ. However, there might be a market for the old clothes you don’t wear anymore, or the “junk” you have sitting around your home. You can sell virtually anything on websites like LetGo and OfferUp, and you can sell old clothing and accessories on websites like Poshmark and ThredUp. Make some money off the stuff cluttering up your space!
- House sit! In my opinion, this is the best gig you can get! Post a profile on HouseSitter.com, and you can get hooked up with people in need of house sitters while they go out of town. This is a great way to make some extra money and get away from the dorms for awhile. You can even use their home as a quiet place to get schoolwork done, so it’s win-win!
- Sell last semester’s books. Books are expensive, so you might as well get some of that money back. You can usually sell your books back to the university bookstore, but I recommend selling for a higher price online. You can sell used books on Amazon, and there are dozens of other sites that will buy back your books – explore all of the sites to ensure you’re getting the most money possible!
To save some money…
- Embrace your student discounts. I had no idea how many places offered discounts for students if I just asked! You can find a complete list of all the discounts your student I.D. can get you online, and then take advantage. The money you can save at local restaurants, coffee shops, gyms, and so on can really add up!
- Brew your own coffee. If you’re anything like I was in college, coffee is the fuel that keeps you going. I didn’t think twice about dropping a dollar or two (or three or four) on a cup of coffee or a fancy espresso drink, because “I needed it.” That caught up to me quickly! Trust me, investing in a coffee maker or espresso machine will save you so much money in the long run. You can even check OfferUp or eBay to get a used one, and you’ll save buckets of money by whipping up your own drinks and bringing them to class in a travel mug. Plus, no long lines at the coffee shop!
- Cook dinner! Big dinners with friends are the best. However, you can save an insane amount of money by cooking food yourself, rather than heading out to your favorite restaurant and ordering food, drinks, and getting that added gratuity. Instead, host a potluck or cook a big meal together. It’s way cheaper to buy ingredients than head to a restaurant, and the process of making a meal can actually be really fun!
- Buy previously-loved clothing. I cannot stress enough how much money you can save by heading to Plato’s Closet or your local consignment store instead of the mall. The idea of owning secondhand clothes used to freak me out, but now I refuse to buy anything full-price. You can find gems in these discount stores, and your dollar will go a LOT farther!
- Take advantage of the free things in your area. There are always free or extremely cheap things going on in college towns. A quick Google search of “free things to do in ____” will pull up loads of options. Get a group together, and go have fun! One of my favorite college memories was loading into my friends car and going to a free Greek festival one weekend. I did end up paying for one or five gyros, but everything else was free.
- Never buy your books new. Seriously, just don’t. Find used copies of Amazon or suck up to other people in your major to borrow theirs. You will only be using that book for a semester, so it’s OK if it’s a bit tattered!
When it comes to making and saving money in college, it’s all about getting creative. Use your free time productively, and you’ll be amazed at the different ways you can pad your bank account. Be smart about how you use your funds, and then you’ll have money for the priceless fun stuff that comes up!