How to Stretch Your Money as a College Student

Posted by Nailah Herbert in College LifeAugust 30, 2022(Last Updated December 19, 2022)4 min read
Key Takeaways
  • College isn’t always a free ride, so college students must know how to make their money stretch throughout the school year.
  • Many people experience financial hardships, but the earlier you can practice good money habits, the better your financial health will be in the long run.
  • CapWay is on a mission to help young adults and college students learn about money in a healthy and fun way.
Are you ready to make some real money moves?

College is a huge milestone in a person’s life. It’s the beginning of a person’s path to further their education and earn a degree that can change the trajectory of their life. As beneficial as higher education can be, it can also be very expensive. 


A college student can receive financial aid via student loans or grants to pay for school, but the money you have after you pay your living expenses and other necessities (i.e., discretionary income) can become challenging to stretch throughout the school year.

CapWay is on a mission to help young adults and college students learn about money in a healthy and fun way. If you are a college student looking to learn more about money, such as graduating college debt-free, health insurance options for college students, how to apply for FAFSA, and more, then look no further; CapWay is the friend that helps you win with money.

College isn’t always a free ride, so college students must know how to make their money stretch throughout the school year. Below are some tips to help you save money, earn extra income, and spend your money wisely.

Create A Budget

Budgeting will help you to see an overall view of your money and help you to keep your priorities in order. A budget is key to helping you manage your money well and use it with intention. When you have a budget, creating a spending plan and tracking your spending whenever you purchase something is important. Keeping track of your transactions lets you know whether you are meeting your financial goals. If you are not, it can help you determine what short-term and long-term changes you need to make to meet your personal financial goals. 


college student looking at computer

A budget will also allow you to become financially responsible and help you realize that you should buy only what you need, especially when money is tight. 


Recommended Read: Ten Financial Habits Every College Student Should Practice

Understand Needs vs. Wants

One issue some college students struggle with is differentiating between “wants” and “needs.” Your “needs” are necessities, such as bills (utilities, cell phone), housing (rent, mortgage), going grocery shopping, and should always come before your “wants.” Although “wants” like going out to a concert every weekend with your friends make life enjoyable, sacrifices are necessary to create discipline and ensure that your money can stretch throughout your school year.


For example, many college students need a cell phone to communicate with family and friends. However, choosing a cost-effective cell phone plan will help you stretch your money rather than choosing an unaffordable cell phone plan. Minor adjustments like the example mentioned will allow you to save money efficiently and effectively. 


Live Below Your Means


To live below your means is one way of saying do not spend more than you earn, but it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your college life and adulthood. If you want to go out to eat with your friends occasionally, you must make conscious financial decisions like creating a budget and saving money. These lapses in judgment can cause discrepancies in your savings account and impact your financial situation. 

Get a Part-Time Job

Most college students understand the importance of priorities and time management. Between classes, studying for tests, having a social life, and everything in between (like eating and sleeping, you have to make time for that), you may not know how to fit earning extra money into your schedule. 


As a college student, it’s important to maximize the skills you already have. For example, if you may know how to earn A’s in classes with ease, then becoming a personal tutor is a path you could pursue while in college. You can tutor your friends for $15 an hour (or less), which helps you to earn additional income and helps your friends do well on their assignments. 


student working at campus coffee shop

Another alternative is to go to your financial aid office to see if any work-study positions are available. If you apply for work-study, more often than not, you get to stay on campus, and you don’t have to worry about working long hours that will take away from your school load. A part-time job can help you improve your time management skills and earn money in the process. 


Recommended Read: 3 College Offices Every College Student Should Know


Take Advantage of Student Discounts

Many companies are aware of the fact that college students don’t have much money. As a result, to help students get through a challenging financial period, some corporations implement a student discount policy in their stores. For example, large food chains like Chipotle and Papa John’s Pizza give students discounts if they show their college ID (identification card).


Recommended Read: Will Your Refund Check Come Back to Haunt You?

The Money Wrap-Up


Many people experience financial hardships, but practicing good money habits like budgeting, knowing the difference between “wants” versus “needs,” and living below your means can help put you in a better financial position. The earlier you can practice good money habits, the better your financial health will be in the long run.

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