What You Need to Know to Save Money in College

I know what you’re thinking- “The summer’s over already?” Yes. It’s that time of year again – new and returning college students are making their way to campus. Whether you live on campus or commute, you might have run into the inevitable struggle every college student faces: money. Not only does money pay your tuition bills so you can attend class, but outside the lecture hall you’re also spending for the essentials such as textbooks, food, transportation, and more. This checklist will help you with ideas on how to save money on what you really need when the semester starts back up. Let’s look at your necessities so you don’t have to do last-minute shopping at the overpriced campus book store.


It’s no secret that textbooks have risen in price throughout the years. Before going to the book store, check out some of these resources and tips that will help you save on your books.

  • Slugbooks.com – This website allows you to search for your textbook, and compares the price to popular online book retailers such as Amazon, Chegg, half.com, and more. Use this website to find the best possible price for your textbook.
  • Digital textbooks – If your course allows it, it might be cheaper to access the digital version of the textbook. In most cases, they are less expensive than their hardback counterpart, and may include some other useful resources for the course.
  • Ask friends or check Facebook – Do you know someone who already took the class you’re taking? Chances are, if they didn’t resell the book, they might still have it lying around. You can also check Facebook to see if there are any textbooks your peers are selling.
  • Talk to your professor – Most college professors are financially understanding of their students. See if you can use an older or previous edition of a textbook for your class. Your professor might have or know someone who has an extra copy of the book.

Living Essentials

Besides your meals and textbooks, you will need to purchase things such as tech gadgets, toiletries, clothing, and other miscellaneous items you’ll need to survive the semester. Let’s break it down.

  • Laptops and tablets – College classrooms today are moving forward with technology and you’ll find your professors want you to submit assignments online, communicate via email, and read digital textbooks. Apple offers exclusive discounts on the latest tech devices for college students. By using a valid .edu email account provided by your college, you can take advantage of other great deals from Amazon Prime, Microsoft Store, and Best Buy.
  • Food and Snacks – You won’t always have the luxury of sitting down to a meal. Healthy and inexpensive snacks like granola bars and other non-perishables will help you get through the day without spending money at a coffee shop. Keep these in a backpack or handbag on your way to class. If you need a quick meal to go, many fast food restaurants offer student discounts. Call ahead or ask your server prior to your order to see if you qualify.
  • Personal hygiene – Buy in bulk if possible to make sure you have enough toiletries. College book stores overprice things such as toothbrushes and shampoo. Find a nearby dollar store for the basics if you happen to run out or need anything you might have forgotten.
  • Furniture – Check with family, friends, newspaper ads, Craigslist, etc. if you’re in need of a couch, dresser, or bed.
  • Clothing – Many retailers are having their Back to School clothes shopping, as well as honoring student discounts if you present a valid college ID. Also, don’t forget to check thrift stores to help you save even more.
  • Smartphone – This might be a given, but a multipurpose smart phone will save you from buying stuff like calendars, alarm clocks, a flashlight, and more.
  • Don’t forget to talk to roommates! – If you’re sharing a living space with other people, chances are you’ll be able to share or split the cost of something like a refrigerator, microwave, or a television.

Staying Frugal

Whether you commute or live on campus, there are a lot of things you need to factor into your budget. There will always be unexpected costs. You need to learn to live within your means and plan for the unexpected. Here are some questions to ask yourself in order to help manage your budget.

Commuter– How am I paying for transportation? Can I carpool with a friend? Should I pack lunch today? Packing a lunch will save you a lot of money. Plan on bringing your lunch, and maybe treat yourself once a week with a bought lunch. While you’re getting to class or have a break period, sit down and think about these questions.

Campus resident– You might find it a lot harder to take care of some of the basic routines you would perform at home. Think about these questions: Can I work on campus or go home to work on the weekend? Have I factored laundry costs into the budget? Reach out to resident assistants, college counselors, or your parents if you have any questions.

What can Connex do for me?

You might not have the time to visit a local branch, but it’s easy to manage your money with an Unbank Checking Account. Sign up for convenient electronic services such as Online Banking and the Connex Mobile Banking App on your smart phone. You can easily deposit your paycheck, pay bills, and check your finances with the app! It’s also a good idea to set up balance alerts to help you monitor your account balance, and prevent you from incurring non-sufficient funds fees. Sign up for other services such as eStatements, Popmoney, and External Transfers to ensure you’re in a really good place financially. In addition to these features, we allow 7 free foreign ATM withdrawals. If you have questions about any of these services, feel free to contact us at 1-800-CR-UNION.

Good luck with your classes!

-Spencer Price, VP of Unbanking


Improving the lives of our members... one member at a time.

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Posted in Money Saving Tips

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