If you are a college student, then I guess you want to know how to save money in college. I even coined a quote some times ago:
“Money and being in college is five and six”.
I know every buck counts in college- and sometimes, the money is not even enough to buy yourself some packs of Doritos – let alone save.
But hey, I don’t agree that you can’t save money in college. In fact, this post is a save money challenge:
Save $500 a month in college.
I reached out to 11 leading experts in personal finance before writing this post. And the question was:
“What is your No 1 advice for a college student who plans to save at least $500 per month?”
NOTE: The 11 experts I featured in this post write on finance sites with thousands to millions of monthly readers. So, if you’re searching for pearls, they are right here in these answers.
How To Save Money In College – $500 a Month Challege. Let’s go…
1. There is a time to be an Eaglet – Ling
It’s great to have a couple of bucks rolling into your pockets from your parents. But, don’t forget: There’s the time to be an eaglet:
“..The adult Eagle may withhold food as the eaglets get near fledging, and encourage them to fly to a nearby perch to get their meal… – journeynorth”
According to Ling from Finsavvypanda. That time is the time to start being RESPONSIBLE for your finances:
Ling – Founder, Finsavvypanda
Since most college students are busy with their studies, it’s not surprising to hear that they’re not earning any income. Instead, some may be relying on their parents for money.
Without an income, it’s hard to save so I recommend finding a part-time job or finding ways to make extra money on the side while pursuing their studies.
What I find helpful is looking for job placements that are hiring interns especially in the summer – this will allow students to learn real-life skills, gain experience in their program, plus it allows them to take on financial responsibilities sooner than the students who graduate and then look for a job in their area of study.
On top of that, intern placements generally pay higher than the minimum wage so this gives them a bigger allowance to hit their savings goal.
By not relying on parents and by taking on responsibilities, it gives students the opportunity to learn how to manage and save money at an earlier age. They’ll likely be more mindful and careful when they know it’s their hard-earned money.
If there is time on the side without impacting the student’s academics, I also recommend taking on a tutoring role if they are interested in teaching part-time. This is a very decent-paying side hustle and could help you sock away $500 a month depending on how many hours you tutor, the rate you charge and how frugal you are with your money.
Another tip is to invest those savings as early as possible. Compounding interest is a powerful effect and it’s something I wish I took advantage of in college – this could reduce your financial stress by A LOT down the road!
2. Don’t Just Save. Invest – Tom
Saving money is a must. If I must put it this way: “If you are not saving money, then you are ‘killing’ money”.
Now, if you kill all the money, what do you have left?
Okay, that was just on a lighter note. I reached out to Tom, from DividendsDiversify and his reply got me: What next after saving money?
By saving at least $500 per month, this student is well on their way to financial success.
Now, the question on my mind, is what should they do with that money? I suggest investing in dividend-paying stocks that increase their dividends on a consistent basis.
Making such an investment can be accomplished through either low-cost exchange-traded-funds or individual dividend stocks.
Over the long run, dividend stocks have proven to be an excellent investment. He or she will receive passive income from dividends right away. Growth in that income year after year.
And finally, capital appreciation from share price increases in the stock market. In these ways, dividend stocks are a triple play when it comes to wealth creation.
3. Earn Money To Save Money – Deacon Hayes
If you can’t make $500, then you can’t save $500. It’s simple math.
But that’s not intriguing enough. Is it?
Here it is: If I want to save $500 a month, then I must earn far more than $500 a month.
But, I know there are no free steaks even If I go to a Freetown Chophouse. So, how do I get that money?
Here’s Deacon’s Advice:
Deacon Hayes – President, WellKeptWallet
Money is already tight for most college students. Therefore, a student trying to save at least $500 per month may feel like it’s an insurmountable task. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be.
One thing a college student can do when they need hundreds of dollars every month is to get a side hustle. By working just a couple of evenings a week, as well as weekends, they should be able to earn the extra cash they’re looking for.
But what if they have a difficult class schedule to work around? The answer is to get a high paying job that works with their schedule.
Some examples include tutoring, rideshare driving, pet sitting, or freelance writing.The truth is, there are lots of jobs college students are qualified for which play to their strengths and can earn them extra money when they need it.
4. Beware of ‘Freshman Fifteen’ – Logan Allec
I know you deserve some fun in college.
Think of it: After long hours of lecture with your old prof who turns up in a big boot cut with a long crease and a pair of button suspenders – and then, he is telling you about the good old 1960s.
But there is a way to catch fun and blow away your money more quickly than you can spell your first name:
I reached out to Logan Allec from MoneyDoneRight. Guess what he says?
Logan Allec, CPA – Founder MoneyDoneRight
In order for a college student to save $500 per month, they will need to actually earn far more than $500 per month. So if they don’t already have a part-time or on-campus job, they should look for one as soon as possible.
Beyond that, students should definitely take advantage of student discounts when they can. I’ve put together a list of student discounts that I update on an annual basis.
Finally, students should avoid the temptation to go out every weekend and blow money on food and drinks. Instead, they should find a group of friends that enjoys cheap, healthy weekend activities like hiking. This will help them avoid the “freshman fifteen” as well as help them save a lot of money over the course of their college career.
5. 5. You Can’t Think “Saving” Without Thinking “Budgeting” – Brad Long
How important is a budget to your overall financial health? To illustrate, let’s use the example of a guy who decides to hail a taxi.:
Driver: “Where to, sir?”
Guy: “Just drive me anywhere. I don’t really have a plan.”
Immediately, you can see the problem here. You don’t want to be the guy “getting into the cab” without a plan or without a destination. Why? Because you’ll be driving around in circles, wasting tons of cash. It makes no sense, right?
Well similarly, a budget gives your money a destination and a distinct purpose, so you don’t have to worry about it just “driving you anywhere” and ending up with empty pockets.
Brad Long – Financial Coach, Founder ZeroDebtCoach
My advice is to 1) organize your finances 2) get on a written budget 3) avoid/eliminate debt and, as a college student do as many side hustles as is reasonable.
6. Get Side Hustles and Work Smart – Holly Reisem Hanna
Before I introduced you to Reisem’s Answer. Let me first tell you about being a Jackometer.
Jackometer was a term we used in college. It means a person that studies real hard and work even harder. Even, the Books get scared when a Jackometer is around.
I thought I was one – not until I got this reply from Reisem. You want to know the her secrets to getting paid through multiple jobs in college and how to save money? Please read:
Holly Reisem Hanna – Finance Coach & Founder Theworkathomewoman
When I was in college, I lived on a tight budget! The way that I was able to save money (and make ends meet) was I did side gigs.
Besides my regular job of waiting tables, I’d babysit and overnight pet sit — which were perfect opportunities for me to study once the kiddos and pets were taken care of. I also participated in many pharmaceutical research studies, which I squeezed in between classes and on the weekends.
I also worked my fair share of catering gigs when I was able to. If you keep your eyes and ears open, there are lots of odd ways you can earn extra cash on the side without having to get a second job. https://www.theworkathomewoman.com/jobs-college-students/
7. Track Your Finances. You Manage What You Measure – Megan Robinson.
If you are going to save money, then you need a budget.
Spending money with no budget is like walking into a restaurant and telling a waiter to serve you just any tasty dish.
I reached out According to Megan Robinson of Dollarsprout. Please see this:
Megan Robinson – Managing Editor, Dollarsprout
Whether you’re looking to save more money, pay off debt, or increase your income, the best thing you can do is to get in the habit of tracking your income and expenses.
You manage what you measure. If you’re not tracking your finances, then you could be missing out on key insights about where your money is going. This information can help you save more money or pinpoint problem spending areas before they become an issue.
Use a 50/30/20 budget calculator online to get an idea of how much of your income should go toward needs, wants, and savings. Then use an app like Personal Capital or You Need a Budget to track your spending and saving progress from month to month.
Budgeting isn’t the sexiest piece of advice. But if you start now and stay consistent, it’s a habit that will pay dividends long after graduation day is over.
8. Instead of pinching pennies, Make More Money – Jay Li
If it is extreme, then it is bad!
It’s cool if my granny rocks a pair of brandit cargo and raps like a Ciara – but I have to worry if she wants to jump and tip dance.
Yes, you need to cut down your expenses to save money – but, not like taking home some paper plates from a friend’s birthday.
According to Jay Li of Dopedollar, there is a better way:
Jay Li – Founder, DopeDollar
I highly recommend optimizing your spending so you are spending money on items and experiences that truly bring value to you.
After that, spend half a day per week (or more) working on something that brings extra money into your bank account. That could be picking up a part time job or working on your own side income gig. Making more money over saving money is always my preferred way to have more income at the end of the month!
9. Time Is Money. Use Your Time To Earn – Siva Mahesh
One of my favorite quotes is a simple one: ‘Time is money’?
And yes, it’s time to say no to hours of pc games, night outs, and dorm gist for more productive hustles.
I reached out to Siva Mahesh from Dreamshala. Guess what he says?
Siva Mahesh – Founder, and editor of Dreamshala
Every student in his phase must know 2 important facts:
- 1.”Money saved is money earned” and
- 2.”Time is money”,
Not all the time we can earn money, Not all the money we can earn on time, all that matters is how far you can save time by maximum avoiding few platforms like gaming, social media, etc and investing the same time on online tutoring or doing other people’s homework.
This can build your concepts, avoid distractions, and can make you save more than $500 per month.
10. Get Your Hands On Remote Jobs – Brian Martucci
If you think it’s too difficult to make a couple of thousands every month while in college, you are probably not even taking the steps yet.
Don’t forget: Make more money to save more money.
I reached out to Brian Martucci of Moneycrashers.
Brian took home extra $1,000 a month working an off-campus restaurant job in college – even before Sir Lee’s ‘www’ jobs:
Brian Martucci – Personal Finance Producer at Moneycrashers
Increase your income. If you’re eligible for one as part of a financial aid package, a work-study job is a start. But most work-study jobs have limited hours and low pay.
In college, I supplemented my very modest earnings from on-campus work with an off-campus job at a restaurant. It was a tipped position, and the money was pretty good — I took home over $1,000 per month, on average. Not bad for a part-time job. And that was before the advent of remote and gig work opportunities for college students.
Today, you can easily earn more per hour as a remote tutor than I did at the restaurant. You’ll probably find the work more fulfilling too.
11. You Won’t Go By Just Saving. You Need Side Hustles – John Schmoll
If you barely have 500 bucks hitting your pocket, then don’t think about saving 500 bucks yet. See my Math equation first:
$501 > $500 > $499.
Sorry, I’m not Einstein. But this is what I mean:
To save $500 a month, then you should have more than $500 ‘dancing’ into your purse.
If you really want to know how to save money in college, you need to read this from John Schmoll of Frugalrules:
John Schmoll – Founder, FrugalRules
A great way to save $500 per month as a college student is to find a flexible side hustle you can do around your schedule. Something like delivering meals, or finding gigs online is an excellent way to bring in the cash necessary to boost savings.
Other things like avoiding overspending, getting cash back on purchases, and learning how to cook simple meals are a great complement to add to your earnings, but you likely won’t be able to rack up enough savings to hit the $500 per month mark with those savings efforts alone.
But, with earning money in your spare time, and some targeted saving, you can hit $500 per month in your bank account.
It’s possible to save money in college – and yes, $500 a month. But you need to work for it.
According to the experts I contacted for this post:
- DON’T pinch pennies. Instead, MAKE more money by getting side hustles.
- DON’T blow your money. Instead, CUT your expenses.
Do you have any other contribution? Kindly share in the comments.