Tips From A Broke College Student

College is hard enough as it is. The last thing we need as students is additional financial stress throughout school on top of inevitable crippling debt in the future!  Thankfully for you, I’ve combined my money-saving advice as a broke college student into a “quick & dirty” list that you won’t need to crack open a single book to understand.


Don’t worry– I’m not about to tell you not to eat. Trust me, food is actually my best friend…but during my freshman year of college, I spent close to $3,000 on food alone even while having a meal plan. Let’s be real, eating off campus definitely beats the sketchy food that the dining hall can sometimes serve. However, if you’re smart about the way you balance your meals on/off campus, you’ll be able to put the money you save toward student loans (or something more realistic like concert tickets or that ugly Christmas sweater you absolutely NEED).

Something I found super helpful over the years was budgeting how many meals I’d eat on and off campus. Once I reached my off-campus allowance for the week, I’d head to the dining hall to use that ridiculously overly-priced meal plan I already paid for. If the DH was serving some strange beef concoction, I always had ramen to fall back on.

Steak night at the DH! *gasp*
Steak night at the DH! *gasp*

When it comes to eating off-campus, there’s a ton of ways to save! At the beginning of the year, try investing in one of those Entertainment Books (or ask mom to get you one for Christmas). They have a million coupons for loads of chain restaurants. Pro-tip: they even have Moe’s coupons. I know. With one of these life-saving books, you’ll have free appetizer coupons for daysssss! What more could you ask for when you’re dying for carbs at 2am on a Saturday?!


Clothing is expensive these days. I don’t know about you, but I have a much harder time spending $20 on a shirt than I do at Moes. Well, you’re in luck! Vintage is in right now…and you can find some of the hottest styles for super frickin’ cheap! Second-hand stores are the place to be. Even if vintage isn’t your style, check out Salvation Army, Goodwill or any other local thrift shop and I guarantee you’ll be shocked by what you can find. There’s no shame in shopping there… just ask Macklemore.


Your swipe is pretty darn important. It gets you into the DH (food <3) and your dorm (sleep <3) which are two of the most important things in life, but let’s not forget it also gives you access to some amazing discounts! When in doubt, flash the swipe. In most cases, you’ll get something in return and if not, at least someone can admire that beautiful ID pic your mom took of you.

My mom's really proud of this one. *sigh*
My mom’s really proud of this one. *sigh*


Ok, so there’s a reason I saved this one for last. College textbooks are half the reason you’re broke. It’s a frickin’ rip-off to purchase some books you’ll be lucky to have the plastic wrap off of by the end of the semester. There’s a few ways to save in this department.

  • Don’t buy the textbook (unless you really need it).
  • Buy the e-text when available. (They’re usually a fraction of the cost)
  • Buy used.
    • Correction: Buy used NOT from the bookstore.*** Amazon, Chegg & eBay are my go-tos.
  • RENT. RENT. RENT. when possible.
  • Sell back the textbooks you don’t need.
    • Correction: Sell back the textbooks you don’t need NOT to the bookstore.*** You know that $500 science textbook you bought four months ago? Worth $3.66.
    • My favorite buyback sites: bookbyte, bookscouter & bookfinder. Compare & sell back to the site that’ll pay the most! They’ll email you a shipping label to mail the book to them for free, then you can have the money directly deposited into a PayPal account or receive a paper check in the mail. Every year I’ve done this, I’ve gotten nearly 100% of the money I spent on books back at the end of the semester. HOLLA $$$

A girl that lived in my dorm freshman year spent $600 in the bookstore on the same textbooks I got from various sites for less than $30…true story, man.

Since I promised this would be a “quick & dirty” list of money-saving tips, I’ll let you get to Moe’s now. Happy saving 😉

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