13 Brilliant Ways to Save Money as a Twenty Something or College Student


Here are some absolutely genius ways to save money as a twenty-something or college student on a tight budget.  (You can save over $10,000 in your four years with these methods!)

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If you like to save money as a college student or twenty-something, then this article is for you. 

We’ve all been there. Money matters can strike at any given moment so it is best to be prepared while in a major growth phase of life as a student or twenty-something. 

Driving past a sparkly new car at a dealership, needing a bigger living space, eyeing that ever so ridiculously expensive but trendy designer handbag…I know the feeling, too.

It’s totally normal and healthy to want better for ourselves and to go for those bigger-than-life dreams.

Interestingly, this can be an exceptional motivating source to drive us to exceedingly meet our life goals and strive to be the best in any work or scholastic environment. 

Though, Style Like Shelby steadily believes in driving that vehicle of success through a way of learning, budgeting, financial planning, and saving money in creative ways.

Even if it’s as simple as saving money one day a week-this can make HUGE financial shifts in your life down the road. 

Whether you are still in college, a twenty-something paying your do’s, or learning how to save money fast on a low income-this blog post will help you accumulate the best techniques to save some extra moola. I promise you’re going to LOVE saving money after reading this blog post!

1. Overall, Best Ways to Save Money Fast

*Money Money Money from Mamma Mia! starts playing*

Let’s face it. College is expensive and post-college life and or building your wealth in your twenties and thirties is not a snap of your fingers and it’s done kind of deal.

Where’s the fun in that, anyway?!

Many of you may be saving up for a first home, working a job while going to school or

My first major tip is to calculate what you need to have in your life at the basic level. This includes bills, schooling, student loan repayment plans, housing expenses, etc.,  & write it all down. This goes if you’re in your thirties, too! You can customize your calculations list to match your lifestyle post-college. 

Next, start student savings account aside from a checking account in college. This helps to save more money as a student. If you’re someone older reading this, inculcate that twenty-something in your life with these money-saving hacks.

Be creative and make a spending limit for your weekly AND monthly expenses on a huge dry erase board somewhere in your home or dorm.

OR use your money goals leading up to a particular date as your desktop screensaver as you will look at it every day.

This will aid in disregarding things you tend to spend on without truly, needing them.

Another wonderful tip is to prevent any grocery shopping when you’re really hungry. Kind of a funny mental picture to imagine but it’s so true! You’ll end up purchasing a lot more groceries than you need and ultimately, wasting money.

Quick money insight: drinks and cocktails chew up a lot of money. If you’re going out spending money on drinks and food every weekend…then you are most likely spending a majority of your paycheck and not saving enough. Limit going out to eat or having a nice dinner to every couple of weeks instead of every weekend.



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2. Get Help with Financial Aid Counselors

Many of us have had to rough it a time or two and learn the hard way with finances as young people. If you’re going to school enrolled in a student financial aid program then you have some great experts at your college or university to help keep you on track with tuition and student loans.

If you don’t have much help or guidance from peers or your family, go and make an appointment and or call the financial aid department within your school.

Financial aid counselors are more than happy to answer any and all questions you may have about tuition or repaying a financial loan! 

However, savings for students can be a stressful and frustrating task while working and studying. If you’re someone going back to school being married or having kids, my hat goes off to you.

No one wants a financial *situation* as a young adult. Though many times, when juggling life, career, and school finances can be overlooked.

3. Second-Hand Stores + High-End Consignment for Luxury Items

This is one of Style Like Shelby’s favorite ways to cut spending!

For women of all ages-overspending on clothes, that one ends up not even wearing is usually a common trope in a fashionista’s life. Ask yourself the question, “Do I want OR do I need this to survive?

Carrie Bradshaw would probably ecstatically say, “YES!!”

However, you though, do not have to. Saying no to those sweet, coveted items like clothes, shoes, accessories, makeup, skincare, etc. is completely OK when learning to save money.

Another question to ask yourself (with clothes shopping in particular) is, “Can I find this on sale in a couple of months, or can I see myself actually wearing this?”

Even if you have the means by the end of the month or quarter to spend a little bit more on something you love (AKA designer handbags!) -it’s best to save it in your bank account and truly reward yourself in the future.

Poshmark, eBay, The Real Real, and Rebag are some of Style Like Shelby’s personal favorites for high-end consignment and second-hand online shops for clothing, bags, and so much more style goodness.

BTW: If you like designer things-high end consignment stores in your town or online offer exceptional discounts with markdowns for nearly half off most times. Nothing wrong in buying something luxury or designer used or a majority of cases-never even used.

4. Get an Online Job as a Virtual Assistant or Freelancer

You may be asking yourself what is freelance work and how do I get a job as a freelancer?

The easiest way to become a freelancer or virtual assistant is by working on your college campus as a teachers assistant or in an administrative building is a savvy way to earn a little bit of extra income. This also helps to familiarize yourself with teachers and students alike which can lead to awesome recommendation letters upon graduating college.

Most times, if you can snag a job as an online VA (virtual assistant) to a professor or faculty head; this is something that is easy enough to do on the side with your schoolwork as well as stand out on resumes later on.

Alternatively, creating a freelance profile on freelance sites can bring in some job offers. Try using Fiverr to work as a freelancer online in a specific field like SEO copywriting, Virtual Assistant, Website Design, Digital Marketing, Data Input, Bookkeeping, Graphic Design, etc!

Fiverr freelance is one of the BEST freelance websites to work with. So, check it out and browse some categories and other freelancer profiles to get some inspiration.



At times, students who work as a freelancer on Fiverr make so much money just doing freelancing-they stick to freelancing post-college for its flexible hours and work-from-home options.

Upwork freelance is another amazing site to use your skills as a part-time for an online job while saving money.




Since working remotely is HUGE nowadays, most companies usually offer and have remote jobs readily available. Apply online with credited job searching sites like Zip Recruiter, Monster, or Indeed to find something that interests you.

Sometimes, you can even find jobs on Craigslist or Facebook-just be aware it’s a legitimate job and you do not give out any personal information till you know.


5. Applying Student Discounts When Available

Just like senior citizen specials-college, student discounts are real too!

This has to be by far, a golden goose in terms of advice when you are in college to save money and use that student ID of yours to your advantage.

Student discounts are quite literally all over the place. Grocery stores, entertainment like TV and movies, certain clothing stores, and many more places offer discounts if you have a student ID with you. There are even student discount flights!



Be sure you always have your Student ID with you when you go out just in case wherever you go accepts these discounts-so helpful and it adds up at the end of your stand 4 years at college.

Here is a quick list of places that accept and offer some sort of college student discount:

· Target

· Amazon Prime Student  Prime Student benefits include delivery, entertainment, reading, deals + more. Sign up for student prime here.

· AMC Theatres

· Best Buy

· Office 365

· Chipotle

· Chick-fil-a

· Banana Republic

· Overstock.com

· Sally Beauty Supply

· Asos

6. Save Money Cooking at Home

As per the above section discussing how expensive eating out can be; start to learn how to cook for yourself and begin cooking at home (or in your dorm!)

If you’re SUPER pressed for time (oh hey, Bartolli meals) you can do a meal service or have your groceries delivered with Amazon Fresh or Whole Foods Market.

Amazon Fresh in particular is an exceptional way to save money on groceries. There are numerous and actually health-conscious meal delivery services out there to cater to your cooking desires and schedule. 

This can be cheaper than grocery shopping if you’re someone who ends up spending over $100 a week on groceries just for yourself.

Here are some easy and affordable meals to make at home or in college:

· Quick and Easy Savory Power Salads: Incorporate seasonal fruit, nuts, bright vegetables, protein like chicken or salmon topped off with yummy dressings and other unique toppings.

· Best Cheap and Easy Tortilla Soup: Use a can of Amy’s Vegan, Gluten-Free Lentil Vegetable Soup with some water and pour that into a microwave-safe bowl, and heat for a couple of minutes. Top off the lentil soup with some shredded chicken, tortilla chips, shredded cheese, and sour cream. 

· Dirt Cheap Rice Bowls: Add a healthy protein of your choice, heat up instant white/brown rice or even quinoa with vegetables, and lastly, dress it up with a sprinkle of soy sauce and or Siracha.

Also, take into consideration how much more work as in putting in that extra work for your career or academics you can do by staying in, eating at home with your laptop in tow. Sounds like an A++ to me!

Many motivated people will use their lunch breaks or dinner time to catch up on some work or get ahead of the curve for the next day.

Did I mention cooking is actually an ingenious stress reliever?! Cooking at home and trying new recipes is as well fun once you get the hang of it.


7. Make Your Own Coffee at Home in Minutes

Admittedly, the first time I used a Folger’s paper coffee grinder to brew my morning coffee, I felt straight up out of the Simple Life. Let’s just say that coffee was made a teensy bit STRONG by accident that day. 

It’s so much easier to just got to the ‘bucks sometimes. Aka the mothership, (Starbucks). For some, it’s Dunkin Donuts, Peet’s, Coffee Bean, etc. Everyone has their preference and this coffee-moment trend is quite a serious deal. 

Style Like Shelby’s favorite Coffee K-Cups for making coffee at home! 

Starbucks K-Cups French Roast

Gevalia Dark Royal Roast K-Cup Coffee Pods

I can assure you as a *recovering* Starbucks drive-through addict, this is a brilliant way to save money on a low budget or while trying to save money.

Even though going to get a coffee is 5-10 minutes of pure ‘self-care’ time, you’ll feel so much more confident saving around $6 every coffee run made at home.



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Yes, getting a coffee on a break, in the morning, or as an afternoon pick-me-up is a new-age way of self-care. 

If you find a Starbucks at a Target: that’s a whole new level of self-care we will need to have a breakthrough with later on! 

However, a game-changer for a coffee lover and someone on the go is a kitchen staple item: A Keurig coffee maker.

We all know the brand Keurig has been around for a while but now there are some helpful new innovations like a CAPPUCCINO FROTHER with some newer Keurig models! 

You can brew a cappuccino, latte, iced coffee, or regular cup of Joe all in one.

This is BEST Keurig for the money.  You’ll find that investing in a sturdy coffee maker like Keurig can last for years! No joke. 

Before I found my new Keurig….my old Keurig coffee maker still worked satisfactorily after 10 YEARS of mass daily use with me and my family and guests

This method alone, will probably save you a couple of hundred dollars on average a year!

Another reason to love a home coffee maker like a Keurig is there’s a variety of aesthetically pleasing colors like this matte white Keurig coffee maker on Amazon! 



buy now on Amazon


Even though campus coffee is usually less expensive than say, Starbucks; spending money on that much-needed coffee in the morning will chew up your wallet over time. So, invest in a coffee maker for your dorm room, too.

If you have a roommate or live in a complex with a couple of other students, this is a great time to pitch in together for a coffee machine everyone can enjoy.

For example, my friends purchased, this Nespresso Coffee Machine from Amazon in college and raved that it was one of the best things they ever did enhancing dorm life.

Throw in a splash of your favorite tasty creamer, almond milk, or Stevia, and…bam! You now have made a cup of coffee that’s way more economical than purchasing one in the campus cafeteria.

8. Save Money with Books for School

Who knew books of all things could be pricey?! This next tip is a clever way to save money as a student though.

Many Colleges and Universities have student discount codes to use when buying books online or in person. You can ask friends, fellow classmates, and or your professors for them. Also, try looking up the books you need on Google for the discount codes for your particular school.



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Similarly, you can apply a discount code and rent your books instead of actually purchasing them.

Why purchase a book for a class you are taking once? Likely, you won’t need the book again but you can rent one for up to 180 days which usually goes well past the completion of a course you may take in a semester.

Free Books Online to Use:

This is one of the best hacks. Before I go to purchase textbooks and or rent a book from another student/the school library, I first check if I can find a PDF version for it for free.

This website has a TON of free books which your institution may use for literature in a class. PDF Drive is worth taking a look at when searching for your classes’ mandatory books.


 9. Avoid Debt As a Student and Starting Your First Business

Eliminate debt avoiding using student loans for expenses in college such as books and overall tuition. 

The same thing goes for when you decided to start your first business. Avoid using loans altogether. Save money as much as possible or find ways to raise money for your ideas and business ventures without using the first business loan grants available. 

As a female entrepreneur, I started my first millennial women’s e-commerce boutique business while working two jobs.



This next idea requires some serious hustle so be prepared to work hard and sacrifice at times. 

If you want to avoid debt, try applying for a part-time job in college or even a part-time second job with your 9-5. 

This allows you to fund a fraction or all of your schooling, living expenses, and or a new business in the beginning. It’s worth a try at least!

This is a tactic to note as many people who take out student loans don’t fully repay them until much later on in life. This is an annoyance once you want to buy your first property, car, or anything else and still have student debt having over your head. 


10. Start Making Monthly Income Goals

Setting a monthly income goal and monthly savings goal is a MUST as a young adult!

If you’d like to go the extra mile and break up a whole month’s weekly or bi-weekly income and budget goals, then you’re already on track to save majorly.

If you’re someone who is naturally competitive or an overachiever; seeing your income and wanting to make a new income goal each month will help you achieve that and most likely go past your income goal!

Make monthly income goals with HUGE dry erase boards and keep track of finances. Visioning your desired income will assist in making that number on the board closer to your reality each day.






11. Begin the Method of Monthly Spending Envelopes

When I was personally searching on the internet for ways to save money, I stumbled on spending and saving envelopes. Sounds simple but man, does this work! Here is this works and why:

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You keep 3-6 envelopes of actual cash. This can be in dollar bills, tens, the twenties, fifties, or even a hundred dollars bills at a time. Label each envelope as this essentially mimics your spending areas/spending categories. Add a max limit with money in each envelope at the beginning of the month or week.

Here’s an example, label one envelope for Bills, another for Grocery Shopping, Fun, etc.

When a certain envelope is empty of money-the spending limit has been met for that area and cannot be spent anymore that month.

You’ll learn real quick to not overspend on your debit card this way! Thus, leading to some fabulous savings over time.


12. Easy Ways to Save Money Using Public Transportation

Ok, I know this isn’t glamorous for most but ya gotta do what ya gotta do sometimes.

Public transportation isn’t that bad and definitely beats commuting to work on your own if you work far away or do not have a car on your college campus.

This saves money on gas, Uber rides, and or time.

You’ll likely just have to familiarize yourself with your area’s transportation system schedules and areas of drop-off and pick-up so you can plan accordingly.

My personal favorite public transportation is the metro. You can purchase monthly passes, one-day passes, or weekend passes which are typically cheaper.

OR just try walking/biking if your job and or school isn’t that far away. If you like to be active or want to be more active and don’t have the time-implement this healthful change once or twice a week rather than paying anything to take transportation somewhere.


13. Open a Savings Account and Emergency Fund Account

Opening a college savings account is crucial for anyone learning to save money but especially young adults. Focus on keeping a college savings account and a college debit account separated so you can see exactly what is going in and going out. 

Alternatively, a strategic way to save money is to start an emergency fund account. This doesn’t have to even be an account technically. Though, if you prefer to keep all savings in a bank account you can do that. 

Perhaps keep this emergency fund money account in a jar somewhere in your home or dorm stashed away. Keeping an emergency fund money account can be a monthly or yearly savings fund you add money to. The longer you add to this money account = the more flex room there is if and when an emergency situation occurs.

Well then, there you have it. That’s the (somewhat) secret sauce on how to save money each month as a college student or twenty-something. 🙂

Comment below your personal methods and ways to save money in college and post-college! We LOVE to hear new ideas to do this.

Let’s keep learning together, thriving, and shining together to be our best, boss babe selves and make the world a little bit brighter than we found it.

This blog post included 12 of the most helpful and insightful ways to save money in college for college students or post-college as young adults.






About Style Like Shelby

A big warm welcome to Style Like Shelby blog! My name is Shelby and my mission is to help you have a beautiful life + style on a budget. Read more..

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