9 Cheap Services to Help You Survive College

apps for college students

You’re away from home. Independent and free. But who knew it would cost so much to handle your expenses? It turns out mom and dad did way more for you than you imagined.

“Running errands is tedious, and going out all the time begins to wear on your pocketbook,” said Emily Guy Birken, a money-saving expert and best-selling author of numerous personal finance books, including End Financial Stress Now.

So, what’s a poor college student to do? “Thankfully, there are some ways to save money and still, you know, live,” said Guy Birken.

Here are nine services she recommended for college students who want to optimize their lives:

1. Price Per Pint

Looking for a cheap drink? Price Per Pint has you covered. If you live in one of the 50+ cities covered by this app, it can help you figure out where to find the cheapest beer. It’s a solid way to have a night out with friends without spending an arm and a leg. Just don’t forget to use a rideshare service to get back home.

2. GasBuddy

Whether you’re on a road trip or just running errands, gasoline can be a major expense, and the price can vary widely from filling station to filling station. GasBuddy can help you find the cheapest gas nearby.

Every little bit you save helps, said Guy Birken. An app like GasBuddy can mean savings that add up over time — especially when combined with the other items on this list.

3. MoviePass

One of the newest entrants into the world of entertainment is MoviePass. This service is making a name for itself by charging $9.95 per month and allowing you to see a movie — in the theater — each day.

“If you like to go to the movies, this is a great deal,” said Guy Birken. “You might not get to see 3D movies, but you can see one 2D movie a day. Just don’t blow the money you save on expensive concessions.”

4. Netflix

Ah, the old standby. Access TV shows and movies through streaming with Netflix, without the need for cable or satellite. Plans start as low as $7.99 per month.

“It’s an inexpensive way to relax and get a little downtime in between the studying,” said Guy Birken. “However, you won’t be able to watch live TV and sometimes you have to wait for seasons of your favorite shows.”

The good news is that Netflix has some great original content in addition to the other TV shows.

5. Hulu

If you want to stay up-to-date on some of your favorite shows, you can watch seasons currently playing, as long as you don’t mind waiting a couple of days. Hulu also starts with prices as low as $7.99 per month. If you’re willing to pay a bit more, you can spring for a commercial-free plan, starting at $11.99 per month.

“It’s even possible to watch live TV with Hulu, with plans starting at $39.99 per month,” said Guy Birken. “However, that might be a bit rich for your blood as a college student. It might be best to stick with the cheaper plans if you want to save money.”

6. Lyft

“Ridesharing is a great thing for college students,” said Guy Birken. “It’s good when you want to avoid drinking and driving. There are few things in life as devastating as ruining someone else’s life through bad decisions.”

She also pointed out that using a rideshare service can also save money on the costs of insurance and gas, on top of not having to buy and maintain a car in the first place.

“Depending on where you live, it could mean huge savings over owning a car,” said Guy Birken. “Run the numbers and you might be surprised.”

7. GrubHub

Cramming for a test but have no food in your apartment? GrubHub can come to the rescue. This service delivers food from local restaurants to your door. Just order online, and the food shows up.

“This isn’t your only choice,” said Guy Birken. “Many college towns have other food and grocery delivery services, like Peapod. They might not be cheap, but you can balance them against your valuable time.”

In my hometown, I get deliveries from the local dairy, and one of my local groceries offers delivery as well. It’s less expensive than using a service like Blue Apron or HelloFresh, and I don’t have to spend the time it takes to go to the grocery store.

8. Amazon Subscribe and Save

For staples such as tissues, paper plates, toiletries, and toilet paper, Amazon Subscribe and Save can be a huge help. Just set up for regular delivery. You can have items delivered at intervals ranging from one to six months.

“Your printer runs out of ink at the worst possible time. You might not be able to get to the store,” said Guy Birken. “But if you are on Subscribe and Save, the things you need come right to you — before you need them.”

9. Venmo

Looking to split a bill? Need to repay a friend for concert tickets? Venmo can help. This person-to-person payment app can allow you to send money to friends and others almost instantly.

“Venmo is a convenient and cheap way to square up with your friends. You don’t have to worry about carrying cash or paying ATM fees,” said Guy Birken.

What’s worth paying for?

When deciding which services to get, Guy Birken said, it’s important to think about what matters most to you. “There are some things you will be glad you spent money on, if they make your life easier and help you get through school.”

However, if you’re not going to use a service, or if it doesn’t fit with your long-term goals, there’s no point spending money on it. Carefully consider what works best for you, and then look for ways to save money within that framework.

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1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Finance Lender Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)
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