10 Ways College Students Can Start Saving for Fall Semester - Now

Becca Cornell
May 4, 2021

The price tag for college is certainly steep. Added to the tuition itself is the cost of accommodation, a meal plan, textbooks, and a laptop. Then you need at least a little money for entertainment.   College students really don’t have much time for a job during the academic year, so many work through summer and find as many ways to save up for the fall semester. While this helps, it isn’t always enough and you can find yourself strapped for cash at school.    Still, there are things you can do to boost your savings. We got some tips below, like cutting expenses and earning a little extra on the side. It’s never too late to start, and every bit helps.   a starbucks cup sitting on a table next to a college students Photo by @doondevil via Twenty20

Cut down on your daily Starbucks

Yes, we know you’ve heard this possibly a thousand times beforebut that’s because it works!   Do the math: If you spend five dollars a day on coffee, that’s nearly $150 a month. By cutting that one expense over four months, you could save $600 by the time you’re ready to go back to school in the fall.   You have options too. If you aren’t willing to cut out your Starbucks habits completely, reduce how many times a week you go and change your order from a Venti to a Short. Make it a weekend treat!   Consider making your coffee at home too. You’ve got lots of choices. Coffee makers range from standard coffee pots to Keurigs, pour overs, and espresso machines, so you’re sure to find a form that you love as much (or nearly as much) as your local Starbucks.   And while spending money on a coffee maker might seem counterintuitive, you’re likely spending that much in one month of Starbucks.   college girl with dog on bed working her sidehustle Photo by @aschmidt0073 via Twenty20

Start a side hustle

Even if you’re working full-time during the summer, you can make some extra money from side hustles in your spare time. These gigs can range from the tried-and-true, like lawn mowing, babysitting, or dog walking, to registering with work sites online.  

Uber or Lyft

These are the most well-known rideshare apps and the idea behind them is very simple: You give people rides; they pay the app and the app pays you.   You can make tips from your riders as well. The companies do require a background check and a usually car that’s not older than 10 years.  

Postmates or DoorDash

These are great because you don’t have to worry about having other people in your car. You’re essentially a delivery driver. Customers order food through the app, you choose an order, pick it up from the restaurant and then deliver it to the customer. This is another job where you can make tips and a great way to start saving for fall semester.  

Fiverr and Freelancer

These sites allow you to work from home, no car required. On Fiverr, you sell your services. Can you make an animated explainer video or create a website? Then you can sell on Fiverr. On Freelancer, you bid for jobs. Are you a virtual assistant or good at graphic design? Then you can bid on gigs at Freelancer.   male walking through woods with a backpack going hiking Photo by @jvliachvng via Twenty20

Choose cheap or free activities

Saving money doesn’t mean not having any fun. Actually, there are actually plenty of ways to have fun without spending a ton.   Here are some great summer activities that cost little to no money:
  • hiking
  • biking
  • cookouts
  • free community music festivals
  • beach day!

Clothes swap with your friends

This is a fun one: Simply get together with some of your friends and agree to bring a certain amount of clothes that you’re either getting tired of, don’t fit anymore, or you just don’t want any longer.    Then, you choose pieces and outfits from your friends’ haul while they do the same with yours. It’s a great way to freshen up your wardrobe without having to spend money shopping. It can also be a novel way of spending time with your friends.  

Save a percentage of every paycheck

While this can be tough if you have bills to pay during the summer, it’s an effective method to save money for the fall semester   Try to put away at least 30% of your full-time summer pay. To really make this work, you should have an estimated budget for the fall semester, so you can save accordingly. If you know how much you’ll likely need for the upcoming term, you can calculate how much you need to start saving throughout the summer for fall semester.   Open a separate savings account, if you don’t have one, rather than putting everything into your checking account. It’s much easier to spend the money you’re saving for school if it’s in your checking account. If it’s in a separate account, hopefully it’ll be out of sight, out of mind.   blonde female sipping on a homemade cocktail Photo by @marishkakuroedova via Twenty20

Have drinks at home, and stop Uber Eats

Like cutting out Starbucks, this home approach might seem obvious, but it's really worth a shot.   When you’re getting together with friends for a night out, have them over for a couple of drinks at home first. That way, you can cut back on how many you buy while you’re out.   Cut expenses even more by reducing the number of pizzas and fast-food deliveries you order. Uber Eats, GrubHub and other food delivery services are certainly convenient and less work, but they add up fast. You can save a lot of money and have much healthier meals by cooking at home.   Turn a home-cooked meal into an event with friends. Have everyone pitch in with drinks, ingredients, and cooking tasks, and you can have a great time that’s very economical.  

Save your change

This is a savings tip especially for those in the foodservice industry where cash is still often used. Set aside your cash in a jar or deposit it into a separate savings account and you’ll be surprised at just how quickly it adds up.   This can also be a good savings tip as it allows you to save without having to dip into your regular paycheck.  

Walk away first when shopping

What this means is that if you want to buy something that is not a necessity, walk away first. Go to another store or even come back another day; if you still want it when you return, that’s when you can allow yourself to buy it. This reduces impulse spending. You’ll save money and end up with clothing and other non-necessities that you really need and will use regularly.   college student shopping for clothes at a thrift shop Photo by @hellomikee via Twenty20

Try thrift stores for new clothes

When you do need new clothes and can’t find friends to swap with, try going to thrift stores before going to a regular retail store. Thrift stores can be a great way to not only pad your closet with classic and basic pieces, but also with unique and vintage pieces. In addition, thrifting and vintage is actually a huge trend and is seen not as cheap, but as savvy and environmentally friendly.  

Hold a 2020-style garage sale

No, we don’t mean an actual garage sale! There are other ways to sell the stuff you no longer want without having to pile everything onto your driveway early on a Saturday morning.   Here are a few places where you can sell stuff online:   The trick is to take excellent pictures, upload with a detailed description and price, and make some money to add to your savings account.