3 Smart Ways to Save Cash at College

college money

College students are notoriously strapped for cash, but rather than eating Ramen noodles and drinking cheap beer to get by, try these these clever money-saving suggestions and watch your wallet keep its healthy shape.

1. Resist the big-box stores

When you’re in a huge store surrounded by a broad variety and tasked with procuring costly dorm supplies for eating, sleeping, and studying, $25 for that candy-colored plastic dining set might feel like a great deal. Unfortunately, the marketing executives at these stores see you and your coeds coming from a mile away, and everything is priced accordingly.

That means what you’re spending might seem cheap by comparison to the expensive dish set on display next door, but in reality the store’s profit margin is enormous.

Obviously you want your space to look cool, but try to keep in mind that the things you buy for college are unlikely to be with you four years later. Instead of Ikea, take a trip to Goodwill, or Salvation Army. You’ll be shocked by all the kitchen supplies, dishes, rugs, lamps, desks, staplers, coffee makers, toaster ovens, and George Foreman grills you can score for less than $20. Lots of it will have cool retro appeal (think canisters with mushrooms, old Pint glasses, and kitsch galore).

2. Reduce your expenses

Now that you’ve decorated your dorm or apartment without taking a small hammer to your piggy bank, keep your overhead low by being smart about basic necessities. Sure, you can go to Walgreens or the corner store every time you need toilet paper, napkins, or toothpaste, but that’s not the way to save your precious cash.

Instead, hold your head high and prance your thrifty self right over to the nearest dollar store. For cleaning supplies, dish soap, paper products, and personal hygiene essentials like shampoo, razors, floss, laundry detergent, and more, a dollar store can’t be beat. All the savings, and none of that dull coupon clipping.

When your weekly cost of living is reduced, you’ll see a big difference in your wallet. Extra cash can be spent on clothes, going to shows, and generally having a good time.

3. Never trash what could be treasure

Thanks to the renewed popularity of DIY projects, you can use Pinterest to discover an endless well of ideas for recycling and upcycling old, unneeded items. So take a look at what you’ve got before you throw it away.

If you’re looking to ditch an old smartphone, consider websites like Gazelle, which give you cash for certain unnecessary items. Try using old memory cards to store media or share files.

Turn ugly old T-shirts into cute cropped tanks, collect wine corks and make your own cork board for memos or jewelry, convert books into secret stash boxes, empty jars into lanterns and candle holders, crates into bookshelves, and storage tubs into end tables.