The Student Life: How To Save Money While Going to School Full-Time

Today I’ve got a guest post from none other than my little sister Sarah (who also happens to run her own blog Crowded Closet)! She’s just about to finish her second year of university and is what I call a real frugal fashionista. She knows the value of a dollar, works and studies hard, and is well on her way to finishing her degree completely debt free! Today she’s going to talk about the student life and how it is actually possible to save money while attending college or university. Take it away sis! – Mo’ Houses

Being savvy with money must run in my family since I’ve managed to beat the odds and go against the stereotype of being another poor college student. Ever since I graduated high school in 2010, I have managed to keep my bank account at a reasonable and ever-growing number. After I graduated I decided to take a year off and pursue some goals and dreams of mine, while working part-time to save money for school. A few months into my gap year, I realized my job and I were not a good fit and unfortunately the decision left me unemployed for three months (in the dead of winter no less, wahh). This meant I had to learn fast how to save my pennies! That same survival instinct from being jobless led me to embrace my scrimper and saver attitude when I started my first year of university. Although I still live at home and don’t have to pay rent, I pay for my schooling, car, cellphone and social life through the earnings I get from my part time job, which means I’m always looking to save a buck or two. Hence, I thought I’d share my top tips to save money (and still have a life!) while being a full-time student with you lovely readers:

1.) Eat Breakfast (or Dinner) Before School

Although Tim Horton’s tantalizing treats and french vanilla lattes are very tempting in the morning, I have saved so much money from eating at home and bringing my own coffee and tea to school. I have both morning and night classes, which means I apply the same routine to my night classes too. I eat something before I leave and always bring some snacks for later.

2.) Always Check Amazon

It’s a fact that school bookstores are expensive. My wallet has thanked me countless times now because before each semester starts I check my reading list for my courses and ALWAYS see if Amazon is selling those same books for a fraction of the price. They usually do and they ship uber fast, which means I skip long lines at the bookstore too!

3.) Embrace Public Transit

I have owned my car for three years now, but that does not mean I am going to pay $7.95 for parking every time I drive up to campus to attend a one-hour tutorial.  So instead I park my car near the closest bus or skytrain stop and enjoy the ride. Although I have to pay $140 for this monthly transit pass each semester, I know it saves me more money in the long run. Furthermore it’s a great opportunity to sleep or study on the way to school.

4.) Prepare and Plan for Nights Out

Going out on the town can be super fun or messy depending on your night, however what never changes is the regret you face the morning after you realized you spent way too much money on those tequila shots you did not need! I found that if I calculated my costs, such as cover fee, taxi/transit ride home, and drinks/food, then I could take out a set amount of cash, leave the credit card at home, and not fear what my Visa bill would look like the next day. Also, pre-drinking is another awesome way for lowering costs.

5.) Separate Your Fun Money from Your Serious Money

Like any good budget guru will tell you, when you get your paycheque, set aside a certain amount of money that you can deem your fun money.  These dollars and bills can be spent guilt-free because you set aside the other part of your paycheck for school and other costs. Even if you aren’t getting paid much every bit helps and you can always adjust the amount you split accordingly to each incoming paycheck.

Student life is stressful enough, so knowing that I can alleviate some of that stress by managing a key aspect of it helps me enjoy my academic career more! Thanks for having me guest post Jess!

Did you save money during your student life? What are some of your top tips and tricks you’ve picked up from your academic journeys?

(Image: flickr)


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  • Jeff called our phone/internet providers and asked what we could do to lower the price. The woman was very nice, asked how old the baby she heard in the background was, and told us how sweet she sounded. I guess having a cute-sounding baby helped because she was able to lower our bill a bit AND give us two movie channels we didn’t have previously. :) I don’t like being pushy with people, so I’m glad we were able to get a better deal without yelling or threatening or anything.

    • I always find with any type of customer service, you get more if your nice to whatever rep you’re dealing with than yelling and making a big deal out of it. Maybe it’s also because I worked in customer service for so many years, but I’ve just never been able to be mean to a CSR no matter how angry I am about something. You get more bees with honey than vinegar, or however the saying goes.

  • I had a friend in University who shut off her cable and internet every year, only to reconnect it in her spouse’s name so he could take advantage of the new student deals. They did this every year for four years, rotating between them.

    • Haha my BF did a similar thing when he lived with roommates. Every six months they would shut off their internet and then the next roommate would sign up for it in their name. It saved them like $20/month so why not if you don’t mind the hassle?

  • The only reason that we have cable is because it is included in our strata fees, I think it’s about $22/unit a month. The best part, however, is the internet! There is also a bulk purchase on internet and a few big connections are split amongst the whole building. Internet is $2.95/month! We had to buy a wireless access point for $99, but that paid for itself after 3 months and we’ve been living there for almost 3 years now.
    If you’re ever in a position on a condo board, it is definitely worth looking into.

  • This is awesome post. This post give a well explanation to find a batter internet connection. I really find out important suggestion to get a internet connection. The cable internet connection is available with a affordable price so you can easily use the internet facility.

  • Greg ate toast and Ramen noodles for almost every meal when he finished schools the second time. He was trying desperately not to go into more debt, so he did everything he did to keep his costs down. He also worked at a pizza place and tried to eat as many meals there as he could.

  • these are things I´ve been doing as well. I always buy my textbooks on Amazon, and then I´ve saved almost 40%!

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