1. Rather than shelling out money on Netflix or Hulu Plus, borrow DVDs of movies and TV shows from the library.
“We used to have really shitty internet, so we couldn’t really stream or download movies & no one wants to constantly be buying DVDs, so I used to [borrow] DVDs from my uni’s library. They had this massive collection, like thousands, and they were all free :)” — Submitted by moniques4b138ac76.
“I used the library to borrow movies and TV shows for free instead of paying the monthly fee for Netflix.” — Submitted by Julie Ricci, Facebook.
2. Borrow required textbooks from the school or public library.
“I always checked to see if professors put their textbooks on reserve in the school library or if they were available in the public library… I only had to buy about 1/5 of the books but was still able to do all the required reading.” — Submitted by sarahh43c616308.
“Get your required books through the library. If your library doesn’t have the book, use the consortium system to order it from another library! Some classes only use books for a few weeks!” — Submitted by Addison Mercer, Facebook.
3. If you can’t borrow or scan, try renting rather than buying your textbooks.
“The thing I like most about BookRenter.com is that they have multiple options to rent, depending on how long you need the book. For example, you can rent a textbook for an entire semester, a few months, or for a week or two for finals. If the textbook you need is too expensive, you can also find an older edition for way cheaper! One semester, I got all my textbooks for as little as $15!” — Submitted by katiel4d499761a.
4. Or find older and cheaper editions of your required reading (be sure to check with your prof beforehand!)
“I found if the professor assigned the 10th edition and I went online and bought the 7th or 8th it was a fraction of the cost and the only discernible difference was generally the page numbers were a little off and maybe some of the photos were different.” — Submitted by Jade McDowell, Facebook.
5. Do the research before buying or renting textbooks.
“Always always always Google your course/school to find out if past students actually used the textbook BEFORE you buy. I often found reviews saying the teacher never taught from or referenced the “required” text.” — Submitted by sunny2423.
“Email your professors prior to the start of the semester to verify required books. This keeps money in your pocket, because you’re not putting anything out for books you won’t actually need. BONUS: every professor I emailed about books appreciated the initiative.” —Submitted by sara brooks.
“Wait until syllabus week is over to buy textbooks if possible. Some textbooks will be listed online for the class but the professor will wait until the first day to announce that they aren’t required.” — Submitted by callamichellem.
6. Get your caffeine buzz without breaking the bank.
“You get free refills [at Starbucks] on basic coffees and teas. What I would do is get the smallest size (short or tall), and then just make the $2 cup of coffee worth it by staying at the store to study while getting free refills. Cheap, but efficient!” — Submitted by alexispavlatos.
“Buy teabags at the grocery store and bring them to coffee shops because hot water is FREE.” — Submitted by mclaudinetria.
7. Hack your ramen.
“I add an egg or two two a ramen packet to make egg drop soup. It takes something that is standard poor college student food and adds some protein while remaining cheap.” — Submitted by Timothy Wells, Facebook.
“Anyone still eating Maruchan REALLY needs to go to the oriental market and pick up some MAMA brand ramen. I can now never eat American ramen noodle without realizing how bad it is. I’m sure the other brands at the oriental market are good, but I really love the MAMA brand.” — Submitted by Catherine Lintner, Facebook.
8. Snack smart.
“Keep snacks on you for days that you’re on campus all day to avoid buying overpriced food in the student center/union.” — Submitted by callamichellem.
“Know your meal plan. See what going to a dining hall can get you (oftentimes, you can grab some fruit for a snack and take it back to your room with you)!” — Submitted by isram.
9. Work with friends to make dinner cheaper.
“If you live off campus [or in dorms with kitchens], have each roommate cook dinner each night. That way you only spend money once a week and you have food for when you get home!” — Submitted by Jillian Gardner, Facebook.
“In my group of friends we have weekly dinners, sometimes 2-3 nights a week. One person cooks, and we pitch in ingredients we have. That means 2 or 3 meals a week don’t have to be bought in the Caf or off campus.” — Submitted by Brianna Goodman.
10. Shop for food and cook smart.
“I would cook for myself and hardly ever eat out once I moved to “apartment” style dorms. I hardly ever bought any prepared foods and ate almost entirely freshly prepared food because a pound of pasta and a jar of sauce (or making your own) is cheaper than the pre-packaged “quick meal” type stuff like Rice a Roni. It’s also a lot healthier. I’d buy bulk and freeze stuff to keep costs down (particularly meat).” — Rachel Maxam, Facebook.
“Don’t go shopping for food when hungry. Always bring a pre-planned list. Stick to the list!” — Subbmitted by Megan Beese.
“Buy rice, pasta, juice and vegetables in Pakistani/Indian/Asian stores. They are usually a lot cheaper than your supermarket.” — Submitted by monstah.
11. Coupon, coupon, coupon.
“Take advantage of coupons and buy in bulk for hygiene products.” — Submitted by callamichellem.
“When you absolutely have to buy something, ALWAYS go generic. Those $1-2 differences really add up.” — Submitted by fayeh400237a61.
“Coupon! And pay attention to sales in your nearby supermarkets. If there’s a sale on toothpaste or pasta or shampoo or whatever buy more than you usually would. Won’t cost you as much as if you bought it at full price when you’d run out in a month anyway.” — Submitted by monstah.
12. Budget and use a prepaid card to make sure you don’t go over it.
“Put the amount you would have spent [on a meal plan] on a prepaid card/credit card, and use it like you would have used the meal plan. This way you can pick between $7 chicken strips on campus of $7 Chipotle without feeling trapped by your plan or guilty for spending the money.” — Submitted by victoriat4ea7ed5bf.
13. Work somewhere you can get free food.
“I got a job at the bakery on campus. Free bread and pastries might have made me gain 10 pounds but I’m proud to say I’ve never eaten ramen noodles in my life.” — Janeter7.
“Work at a restaurant!!… I worked morning shifts until 2pm four times a week. That’s breakfast AND lunch that’s either free or at a discount. Just make sure to get the healthiest options.” — Submitted by laiirr.
14. Attend all the school events for the free food. (Hey, maybe you’ll join an awesome club, too.)
“Finding every school event and going just for the free pizza & free shirt.” — Submitted by ahhl.
“I tried going to as many events as possible on campus because most of them had free food late at night so I didn’t have to go out and spend money on food if I was hungry later in the evening after the cafeteria closes.” — Submitted by carissajrivera.
“Take advantage of free events on campus. There is always something going on that involves free food.” — Submitted by callamichellem.
15. Use the end of the year move out to your advantage.
“The summer after freshman year I got a job on campus so I was around when everyone was moving out. A lot of people plan poorly so they end up leaving a lot of things behind. That summer I saved 3 mini fridges from the dumpster and then sold them to incoming freshman the next year.” — Submitted by Tara Mitchell, Facebook.
“Shopping on the university classified page at the end of the year to get cheap furniture from the people leaving town.” — Submitted by Shelby Susnik, Facebook.
“Befriend people who work maintenance in the dorms (including students). A whole lot of stuff gets left behind at the end of the year (including prohibited items like coffeepots, hot plates, toasters), and that stuff all gets warehoused and thrown out. Ask nicely, and you can get just about all the small appliances you need for a kitchen for free.” — Submitted by Leslie Bond, Facebook.