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:
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
“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.”
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.
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.”
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.
Interested in a personal loan?Here are the top personal loan lenders of 2021!
|Lender||APR Range||Loan Amount|
|5.99% – 19.16%1||$5,000 - $100,000|
|8.27% – 35.99%||$1,000 - $50,000|
|6.94% – 35.97%*||$1,000 - $35,000|
|99.00% – 199.00%2||$500 - $4,000|
|5.99% – 24.99%3||$5,000 - $40,000|
|7.99% – 29.99%4||$7,500 - $40,000|
|7.99% – 20.88%5||$5,000 - $50,000|
|9.99% – 35.99%6||$2,000 - $25,000|
|10.68% – 35.89%7||$1,000 - $40,000|
|9.95% – 35.99%8||$2,000 - $35,000|
|1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi. |
2 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Opploans.
Direct Deposit required for payroll.
Opploans currently operates in these states: . *Approval may take longer if additional verification documents are requested. Not all loan requests are approved. Approval and loan terms vary based on credit determination and state law. Applications processed and approved before 7:30 p.m. ET Monday-Friday are typically funded the next business day.
3 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Payoff.
4 Important Disclosures for FreedomPlus.
5 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
6 Important Disclosures for LendingPoint.
7 Important Disclosures for LendingClub.
All loans made by WebBank, Member FDIC. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, and credit usage and history. The APR ranges from 10.68% to 35.89%. For example, you could receive a loan of $6,000 with an interest rate of 9.56% and a 5.00% origination fee of $300 for an APR of 13.11%. In this example, you will receive $5,700 and will make 36 monthly payments of $192.37. The total amount repayable will be $6,925.32. Your APR will be determined based on your credit at time of application. The origination fee ranges from 2% to 6% (average is 4.86% as of 7/1/2019 – 9/30/2019). In Georgia, the minimum loan amount is $3,025. In Massachusetts, the minimum loan amount is $6,001 if your APR is greater than 12%. There is no down payment and there is never a prepayment penalty. Closing of your loan is contingent upon your agreement of all the required agreements and disclosures on the www.lendingclub.com website. All loans via LendingClub have a minimum repayment term of 36 months or longer.
8 Important Disclosures for Avant.
*If approved, the actual loan terms that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination, state law, and other factors. Minimum loan amounts vary by state.
**Example: A $5,700 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,429.25, repayable in 36 monthly installments, would have an APR of 29.95% and monthly payments of $230.33.
Based on the responses from 7,302 customers in a survey of 140,258 newly funded customers, conducted from August 1, 2018 – August 1, 2019, 95.11% of customers stated that they were either extremely satisfied or satisfied with Avant. 4/5 Customers would recommend us. Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC.
* Important Disclosures for Upgrade Bank.
Upgrade Bank Disclosures
Personal loans made through Upgrade feature APRs of 6.94%-35.97%. All personal loans have a 2.9% to 8% origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Lowest rates require Autopay and paying off a portion of existing debt directly. For example, if you receive a $10,000 loan with a 36-month term and a 17.98% APR (which includes a 14.32% yearly interest rate and a 5% one-time origination fee), you would receive $9,500 in your account and would have a required monthly payment of $343.33. Over the life of the loan, your payments would total $12,359.97. The APR on your loan may be higher or lower and your loan offers may not have multiple term lengths available. Actual rate depends on credit score, credit usage history, loan term, and other factors. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. There is no fee or penalty for repaying a loan early. Accept your loan offer and your funds will be sent to your bank or designated account within one (1) business day of clearing necessary verifications. Availability of the funds is dependent on how quickly your bank processes the transaction. From the time of approval, funds should be available within four (4) business days. Funds sent directly to pay off your creditors may take up to 2 weeks to clear, depending on the creditor. Personal loans issued by Upgrade’s lending partners. Information on Upgrade’s lending partners can be found at https://www.upgrade.com/lending-partners/.