15 Broke College Student Hacks

We get it: As a college student, you’re not necessarily rolling in the dough. Often the biggest stressor for a college student is figuring out how to pay for living expenses. While creating a budget could be helpful, sticking to them is hard. It’s especially challenging if you don’t have regular income flowing in.

Having enough money makes surviving as a healthy college student a lot easier. Yet, there are a handful of broke college student hacks you can adopt. This will allow you to eat well, live comfortably, and enjoy college! Discover some cost-saving hacks students can use to reduce stress and enjoy life to the fullest. Here are our 15 broke College Student Hacks!


Making & Spending Money

Find a side hustle. Consider supplementing (or building up) income with a side-hustle! Ideally this won’t take away too much time from your studies and social life, and can even be fun. Some ideas include selling used possessions on Craigslist, tutoring kids, taking online surveys, or selling baked goods on campus. Extra spending money can help you tie up loose ends or enjoy a night out with friends.

Live with roommates. This might be the most useful broke college student hack yet. While living alone might sound nice, it’s far from affordable. Try to find a roommate or two to help pay the bills. Co-ops and themed housing is also becoming more and more popular. These living situations help you find a unique and comfortable living situation that works for you.

Buy wholesale and bulk items. Speaking of roommates, get them together for a trip to a wholesale store, like Costco or Sam’s Club. Split the bill on food, toiletries, and other items you need. These will be a lot more affordable if you buy in bulk versus at a typical grocery store. It might feel like more money upfront, but what you buy will last a long while.

Use an app to budget. Budgeting and tracking your expenses has become a lot easier thanks to an uptick in financial tech companies. Try downloading an app, like Mint, which connects to your bank account(s) and tracks and categorizes expenses. Knowing more about how you spend money will help you save better, too.

Shop at discount and dollar stores for basic items. Shop at discount and dollar stores for simple things you might need in your dorm room. You don’t need high-end products for all your needs. Items like school supplies, storage containers, and kitchen gadgets can all be found at these stores!

Buy or rent used books. Wherever possible, avoid buying textbooks that are new. See if you can rent them, get ‘em used, or buy digital copies of the book. If possible, borrow books from a friend who has already taken the class.

Look for deals. See if you can buy a laptop or other device that is refurbished. Websites like Amazon or Best Buy are a great place to look. If time allows, wait for Black Friday or Cyber Monday and swipe some great deals!


Health & Food

Fill your cart with healthy food deals. Food doesn’t have to be expensive. Look for filling and healthy meals that come with a great deal. For example, Target sells 2/$4 burritos, a meal that can keep you full for hours. Just check the nutrition label to ensure you’re filling up with protein and fiber versus saturated fats and sugar. Target also has a dollar bin section where you can buy notebooks, pens, and other school supplies.

Meal prep. If you have access to a kitchen, take advantage of it. Set aside time each week to prep meals for the week which you can bring on campus or eat at home. It’s easy to whip up a batch of quinoa, roast veggies, and cook a protein for a grain bowl. You can also make (and freeze) breakfast burritos and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Pack your lunch. Meal prepping makes bringing your own lunch to school a breeze. If there’s a microwave on campus, pack your lunch and heat up food when you’re hungry. You can also head to the dollar store to find an insulated lunch bag that comes with an ice pack.

Consider working at a grocery store. If you’re looking for a fulfilling job, consider working at a health food store! Often, they will send employees home with food that is about to expire or will give away free samples.


Activities & Fun!

Look for free fun. Fun times can always be free. Keep track of free events on campus or see if your local town hosts concerts or outdoor markets that are free to the public.

Explore outside of campus. When you’re in school, it’s easy to stay on campus. While that can be fun, stretch your legs and take advantage of your local surroundings! This can be free, healthy, and fun. Explore free museums, local hiking trails, or have a picnic in a nearby park.

Make happy hour your friend. If you want to go out with friends, look up restaurants and bars that have great happy hour deals so you can save some money on booze and food. This might be the most delicious broke college student hack yet!

Leave your credit card at home. It’s easy to think you’ll only spend a certain amount of money when you go out. However, that number can skyrocket with the quick swipe of a credit card. To avoid spending too much money, bring the exact amount of cash you need and leave your cards at home.