Living frugally as a college student

We’re college students — notorious for being broke or at least strapped for cash. And if you’re not, you probably still would like to save a few extra bucks. The good thing is as students, there are many ways to be either more frugal or shopping savvy if you’re just more conscious about your spending.  

Every student travels at some point. If you’re like me, living relatively close to home, you probably travel a lot. I swear I get beckoned home for everything from insignificant holidays to my cat’s birthday. On the other hand, if you live really far from home, you probably travel less, but it is much more pricey when you do. Either way, plan your trip ahead especially if it is around a busy travel time to save money. If you are taking a plane, train or bus, get your tickets ahead when they are usually much cheaper. Often ordering ahead means tickets can be half or so less than if you buy a few days or the night before. Another option is carpooling, which can be a quick and cheap way to get home as well. 

Another simple way to save money is to take advantage of student discounts. From museums to clothing stores to restaurants, just flashing your student ID can save you money. My favorite discounts are the Art Institute of Chicago’s student price and J. Crew’s 15 percent off for students. But it’s not just brick and mortar locations that give discounts, so do many websites. offers a free student membership with free two-day shipping on many products for six months, which is especially useful when buying textbooks. Just don’t be afraid to ask at your favorite places or websites if they have a student discount because many do. 

This might seem like odd advice, but expand your grocery shopping locations. Many of us pick up our groceries at the campus County Market or Walgreens, both of which are convenient but can be pretty pricey. If you have the luxury of having a car or a friend with a car, take advantage of that, and use it to get cheaper groceries. Getting off campus, grocery stories have to be more competitive in their prices because you have more places to shop, so use this to your benefit. Scour store ads for coupons or at least go to a few different shops, which can help you get the more competitive and cheaper grocery prices.

Lastly, no one wants to hear this, but curbing your social spending can save quite a bit of money, too. Whether this is going out to eat or for coffee with friends every day, or going out for drinks with friends every night, it’s pricey. Most of us don’t realize or don’t want to acknowledge how much we actually spend when with friends, but it’s probably a lot. I’m not advocating giving up socializing, but switching to a dinner or wine night get together at someone’s house or apartment can be just as fun and much cheaper.

Audrey is a junior in LAS. She can be reached [email protected]