How to Stretch Your College Dough

It's not how much you have. It's what you do with it that counts. Even if parents and aid keep you fully funded, you will thank yourself a million times throughout your life if you start practicing a frugal lifestyle now.

CollegeData's Top Money-Saving Tips

More Consumer Tips

Get smart with your phone. Join with family or friends to get a group cell phone plan. Use Internet phone access. Get free long distance or use cheap phone cards. Know your cell phone limits on usage and don't ever exceed them. Use e-mail instead of text messaging.

Stick with the basics. If you are signing up for services, such as TV in your dorm room, choose only basic packages.

Beware of spring break. Student vacations can be a big trap for impulse spending. Try taking your break close to home.

Ignore bargains on items that you don't need. Fifty percent off a $200 impulse purchase means you are still spending $100 you didn't plan on and probably don't have.

Keep your receipts and read them carefully. This helps you track your spending and ensures that you were not overcharged. Plus, many stores have limited return policies.

Keep an organized wallet. So you can find your discount cards when you need them.

Avoid late fees. Late fees are a complete waste. Don't give your precious cash to video rental stores, libraries, the parking department, credit card companies, etc.

Socializing and Entertainment Tips

Have fun on campus. You can enjoy movies, lectures, performances, and sports right on campus for little or no cost.

Join clubs. Get involved in campus activities: clubs, the newspaper, sports, drama, etc. Costs are usually low and you will get plenty of socializing and fun without a high entry fee. Carefully evaluate high-ticket social clubs, such as sororities and fraternities.

Learn the art of the cheap date. Cook at home or find cheap but yummy eateries. Go to parks and museums. Bike together. Volunteer together. Date people who appreciate your financial savvy.

Remember that vice is expensive. Enough said.

Socialize at home—even if home is your dorm room. Take a tip from your grandparents and learn a few group games. Did you know that lots of students enjoy playing cards? Bridge and penny poker can be great fun. Go to for card game ideas and rules.

Find frugal friends. If your pals are big spenders, find new ones. Ditto for girlfriends and boyfriends.

Financial information provided on this site is of a general nature and may not apply to your situation. Consult a financial or tax advisor before acting on such information.