10 Ways to Save Money During College

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My husband just started his doctoral degree program and I couldn’t be more thrilled for him.

He’ll be busy this semester for sure, with three classes, seminars to attend, and math labs to teach. And he again will have long days, needing to be on campus from about 8am to 8pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, in addition to classes the other days of the week too. As a family of five living off of his very modest graduate assistantship income (and unfortunately a bit of student loans), money is tight in our home. But, he still needs to be able to get in contact with me, his peers, his students, and his university all the time. So we are super thankful to have the cheapest wireless plans with Walmart Family Mobile.

If you remember, I talked about Walmart Family Mobile’s cheapest wireless plans when my husband graduated from his Master’s Degree a few months ago, sharing 10 Reasons Smart Phones Make Navigating Post-College Life Easier. And he’s had that phone ever since and has been loving the service and the phone. It definitely helped us move from Indiana to Texas, especially once we got here and didn’t have an internet connection for a few days.

And now as a doctoral student, having a smart phone is important for him to keep in touch with his family, especially as I am dropping and picking him up at least twice a week. He also will need to be able to get any important text alerts from his university (he got some important ones from his last university – closed campuses for snow days and an armed person on campus), as well as any emails from professors who may be making scheduling changes last minute too. And as a math teacher on campus, he frequently gets emails from undergrads seeking help on their assignments, and needs to respond to them fairly promptly. And if he wants to check the bus schedule, it’ll be easy to do with a smartphone too, especially since there’s an app for all that.

But, my husband has already been sporting a smart phone from Walmart Family Mobile. I on the other hand, was still boasting a cheap-o regular old cell phone with zero data capabilities. And it got junk reception in our new place: like dropped calls, voicemails showing up without the phone ringing, and getting texts later than they were sent. So, I needed a new phone. And I have been wanting a smart phone for a while, in part because of my blog, but also because they are smart and do so many awesome things, like saving our family money!Score the cheapest wireless plans from Walmart Family Mobile! Its' they're the perfect #Phones4School at only $34.88/month for unlimited talk, text, and web! #collectivebias #shopSo, I recently picked up the T-Mobile Alcatel One Touch Fierce for $99.88, on rollback from $129.88. Oh, and cost of the plan has dropped from when I previously posted about it too! Now, a Walmart Family Mobile Unlimited Talk, Text & Web service plan is only $34.88/month (instead of $39.88/month) . Just grab a phone (you may be able to use your old phone too) and a $25 Starter Kit and you on your way to saving some big money with the cheapest wireless plans for unlimited everything!

College can be expensive with your limited income. Here are 10 smart tips on how to make life easier financially. 10 Smart Ways of Saving Money in College

And now that you have your smart phone, it’s time to be smart about money in other areas while in college. Here’s some smart ways of saving money during college besides a great deal on phone service.

1. Amazon Prime Student

Join Amazon Student & Get FREE Two-Day Shipping for College Students: it’s 50% cheaper than the regular Prime Membership, and you get to try it out for FREE for 6 months.  The free 2-day shipping is awesome, especially when your professor doesn’t tell you what books you need until a week before class starts, or when you need (or want) just about anything.  Oh, and then you get free streaming music and videos, which means you don’t need to pay for a Netflix or Hulu+ subscriptions (or cable for that matter). Plus, you can read eBooks using the FREE Kindle Reading App on most devices.

2. Student Rate Textbooks Search

After tuition, textbooks can cost you a good chunk of change each and every semester.

My husband is one of those (weird) people who really wants to own the book after the class is done.  I guess since he wants to be a college mathematics professor, it could be a good investment. But, it still doesn’t mean he needs to pay the University Book Store’s going price for new, and even used books! They are almost always the most expensive.

Buying textbooks online is pretty much the way to go. But there are loads of websites out there selling textbooks. The good news is that there’s this awesome site called StudentRate.com that has a textbook search feature that easily lets you compare textbook prices at more than 20 different online retailers.  It not only compares retail prices, but shipping costs and cash back and coupons available, too! And it does this for new, used, rental, and ebooks versions of textbooks. However, you can Save up to 70% on your class textbooks at VitalSource!
Pay about 60% less than the cost of print!

3. Bring Your Student Id

So many stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and venues have student discounts. And that’s pretty awesome for our family to get a few bucks off when we go somewhere. Check out my friend’s post for an awesome comprehensive list of college student discounts.

4. Pack a Lunch

Eating on campus once or twice a day can consume a large portion of your limited income, even if you get the campus dining plan. Packing a lunch, or a dinner, is such a smart and simple way to save money in college. Even bringing a snack to tide you over until you can get home can make a difference.

 5. Alternative Commuting

Parking passes can be expensive. Bus passes, being dropped off, carpooling, biking, or walking can all be a great way to save a lot of money not only on gas, but on those darn permits and passes.

6. Buy School Supplies on Clearance

If you plan it right, you can score some amazing deals on pens, pencils, printer paper, highlighters, notebooks, folders, binders, calculators, and more, thanks to some serious clearance clear-out. When it comes to printers and ink, it’s best to get an HP Instant Ink enabled printer and take advantage of the HP Instant Ink program.

7. Get Cash Back

I’m a huge fan of cash back sites. I even wrote up a post comparing of the three I use: Upromise, Ebates, and ShopAtHome.com. In college, you tend to buy a lot online, so why not make a little back from when you buy?

8. Use the Campus Gym

Most campuses have some awesome athletic equipment and facilities that are either free for students or require a fairly small towel or locker fee. Using the campus to workout means you don’t pay for the gym across town.

9. Money Saving Apps

I am most excited about my new smart phone because of the awesome saving money apps. However, I am bummed that the ibotta app cannot be downloaded on it! But, there are still others to download, like the Favado app, Cartwheel by Target, RetailMeNot, The Coupons App, ShopKick, CheckOut 51, and the Walmart Savings Catcher app.

10. Go Without

Going without has been our go-to way of saving money during college. We have gone without nicer clothes, without more toys for our kids, without eating out, without cable, without expensive date nights, without long trips, without preschool for our kids, without expensive family outings, and we’ve even gone without cell phones and microwaves. It’s been a pain at times, and it’s frustrating that life has to be as difficult as it is while we’re poor and in school. There are plenty of things we need and want, but being more realistic about what we can currently afford and what we keep going without, has been a blessing in avoiding debt. Because, the best thing to go without in college is debt. While we’ve taken out student loans, we have striven to live frugally.

What are some smart ways you save money during college? What are your favorite apps? And what do you think about the Walmart Family Mobile cheapest wireless plans?

Be sure to check out these posts too!

save money on printer ink | HP Instant Ink Program Overview and Review | saving money on printing costs | frugal living | cheap | thrifty | inexpensive | subscription service

Great list of back to school items for college students!

graduate debt free escape student loan debt burden

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  1. Josh says

    Why is your dumb husband using a calculator app on “his” phone when there is clearly a much better calculator on the table?

  2. says

    These family plans from Walmart are such a great idea! My first phone was a pay-as-you go one (it probably cost like $50 a month at least), then I got another phone plan that was $60 a month, not a smart phone, and it had terrible service! I’m so glad there are more options that are cheaper now.

    Great tips for saving money in college though! Thanks for sharing my college student discount list 🙂

  3. Katie says

    We have had Republic Wireless now for a few years and love it! We pay around $53 a month (that’s for both of us) and we have unlimited everything. There is no contract. Its also great for college students because there is no credit check or deposit. We have had several friends have also started using them as well.

  4. says

    I love this! I started college as a traditional student and then graduated from a nontraditional program, but one of the best ways that I found to save money in college was actually a way to make some money! Selling textbooks has long been a go-to way for students to put a down payment on the next semester of books, but it requires scouring the web to find the best prices. I used to follow this process until I discovered Book Scouter, a website that compares all places buying a book, the prices that each place is paying, and the historical prices for the same book. All you do is type in the ISBN number–it’s that easy! Hubby and I do this with books that we’ve decided not to keep. It’s made us hundreds of dollars over the past few years!


  1. […] College nowadays is insanely expensive; with most people leaving with anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 in debt before they even have a job. That’s why, during college, it pays to be frugal. You probably have no other option- since all your money is going to tuition, books, and housing. Here are some great tips on saving during college from Katelyn Fagan at Whats Up Fagans: […]

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