How to Start Saving Money in College

If you’re an up-and-coming college student, chances are good that you’re part of Generation Z. While Gen Z-ers have been described as “millennials on steroids,” there are a variety of ways that they differ from the generation before them. One of those major reasons is that they care a lot about making sure they’re financially secure. Gen Z is concerned about the future, and they want to know the best way to start saving money.

If you’re currently in college, the idea of having a lot of extra cash lying around is probably a slightly foreign concept. While you might have a part-time job while you’re in school, it can be tough to even consider saving money when you’re trying to pay for groceries, dorm-room items, schoolbooks, as well as have a bit of a social life. If you haven’t started saving at all yet, rest assured, you’re not alone.

While it can be easy to assume that saving money while in school isn’t worth it, the truth is that starting to save now can really affect your future—even if you’re only able to save bits and pieces here and there. Read on for more tips on how to start saving money while in college.

1. Keep a budget

The best way to save money is to create a system where a certain dollar amount is already allocated for—aka your savings. Chart out how much you make (or have available) each month, and then record all the expenses you have in a month. Whatever is left over is what you can attribute to savings and spending.

To make it even easier for yourself, consider your savings account as one of your fixed expenses. If you’re putting $50 in your savings account each month, you’ll soon get used to not having that money, and you’ll learn to not miss it. Even though it feels like small chunks here and there, by the end of the year, you’ll have a sturdy amount saved up!

2. Cut unnecessary costs

Do you really need that venti latte every morning before class? Are you signed up for any unnecessary subscriptions or any unused expenses? Maybe you could handle living with a few commercials instead of paying for Spotify Premium?

Think through your everyday expenses and try to trim back a bit. Instead of putting the money you’re saving from that unnecessary cost toward other spending, stick it right in your savings account and don’t look back.

3. Look for extra income

Is there time in your schedule for you to hold a part-time job? Or do you have a side gig, like selling your clothes online or taking professional photos couples or friends? Try doing some odd jobs around campus or holding a joint dorm room sale with your roommates. Be careful not to overbook yourself, but if you have the time, it can be really nice to have a little extra income coming your way while in school. Not only that, but you can attribute a good chunk of your income to your savings. Having a little bit of wiggle room can make all the difference.

4. Open a savings account that earns interest

Some banks offer special types of savings accounts for college students that earn interest. Do your research, ask around, and don’t be afraid to ask for a little help and guidance from someone who is older than you and who has been there before. It’s nice to know that the amount of money you have saved in the bank is making money on itself all on its own!

If you feel intimidated about dealing with all the red tape that comes with opening an account at a bank, rest assured that it’s probably easier than you think! Nonetheless, it’s always good to seek wise counsel, so have a parent, older sibling, or mentor go with you when you open one for the first time.

5. Be careful with those credit cards

Credit cards are quite easy to open—it doesn’t help that just about every single store around these days has their own credit card and asks you to open one with them. They’re a lot harder to keep paid off, and it can also impact your credit score if you close too many at once. Credit cards are great for building credit, but just be careful that you’re not overspending money with them that you could otherwise be saving.