12 Money Saving Tips For Students

Students attending post-secondary schools may find that their expenses are quite high. Nonetheless, you do not need to worry as we have a few money-saving tips for you! 

Create a Budget:

Writing down your income and expenses on paper can help you visualize your financials without having to guess how much you’re actually spending. Creating a budget can also help you cut down on your impulse spending as you can clearly see how much money you have allocated to “wants”. The most important thing is to ensure you actually stay within your budget. It is very easy to go over your limits here and there and before you know it, you may find yourself falling behind on payments or having to sacrifice your fun purchases. Both Google Sheets and Excel have great budgeting templates to help you get started. 


Don’t be that first-year that drops hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars on textbooks. This is not necessary at all! In fact, it’s wise to wait until after your classes have already started to think about if the class actually requires the recommended textbook because some professors don’t use them at all. Even if your professor highly recommends that you buy the textbook, you may find that you never actually use it and it collects dust on your shelf, so use your discretion. Will the textbook actually aid your learning? If the textbooks are absolutely required, don’t go straight to the bookstore. Plenty of upper-year students sell their used textbooks for much cheaper than the bookstore, so take advantage of your school’s buy-and-sell groups to find cheap textbooks. It is even possible to find a free pdf of your textbook online (but you didn’t hear that from us). 

Take Advantage of Student Discounts:

Your student ID is a very powerful tool for saving money as many businesses offer discounts for students, especially those around campus! Trust us, even the smallest of savings adds up fast. Be sure to purchase an SPC card to access over 450 student deals. It only costs $10 and will help you shop at your favourite stores at a discounted price. Another student saving program is UNiDAYS which is a free membership program with exclusive student discounts. Take advantage of these for your entire undergraduate degree. It could save you hundreds of dollars! Tech companies like Apple and Microsoft also offer student pricing and often run promotions for students (who wouldn’t want a free pair of AirPods?!). Local businesses may also have discounts for students, all you have to do is ask! 


Be Careful with Credit:

Having a credit card may sound cool to you, but if you’re not using it responsibly, it can leave you with more stress than you can imagine. I know it’s so easy to make impulse purchases with just a tap of your credit card (literally), but you need to think about the consequences it can have on your bank account. 


For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of a credit card, you should know that it is not real money. Purchases can be made at present and the payment can be made at a later time. Do you need a new laptop right now, but lack the money to make a purchase? Well, that’s when you would use your credit card to make the purchase, then at the end of the month or whenever your payment due date is, that’s when you would use your real money to pay off the outstanding balance on your card.

Do you have enough money to pay off the credit card? Are you in debt? Thinking about this can save you from having bad credit in the future. Students may not realize this now, but having bad credit can impact future purchases (buying/renting a house), requesting a loan, or even getting a mortgage from your bank. Additionally, choosing the type of credit card you want is important. Some credit cards reward you with points to redeem on other items, while other credit cards provide cash in return. Although it is really good to get started on building up your credit, just remember to pay before the due date!

Sell your Old Things:

We know that you have untouched clothing sitting in the back of your closet, items for hobbies that you haven’t touched since middle school, and gifts that you didn’t want or need but you didn’t have the heart to tell your friends that. Why don’t you free up space and make money by selling your old things? If it isn’t useful to you now, you can sell it to someone who will make use of it. Websites like Facebook Marketplace, Kijiji, and Poshmark are all great, reputable sites to sell your stuff. 

Make your Own Meals:

A burger from McDonald’s sounds really good right now… oh right, I’m supposed to be saving money. I guess the smarter choice would be to buy groceries and make my own meals. Wait, I could possibly make a few different meals that can last me a week! Buying groceries (especially on days students can get discounts) can save you more money than you expect. you can meal prep and make multiple meals that will last you at least a week. This way, you would not be spending money on food every day. It may sound like a lot of work to make the food yourself, but at the end of the day, you’ll be saving a lot more money than you anticipated. You may not think fast food is expensive now, but once you add up all the money you spend on food, you’ll be shocked. Also, cooking is a healthier option and we all know how important our health is, especially as a student in university. It’s important to note that making your own meals will not only save you money, but it will also be a habit you will continue to maintain in the future. 

Purchase Second-hand Goods:

There is no better way to save tons of money than buying second-hand goods including clothing, electronics, and school supplies (textbooks). It may not be something you’re used to, but most people who sell second-hand products still have them in mint condition. People may sell their items for various reasons such as making money, being unable to return the goods, or being no longer in need of them. Alternatively, there are some stores that sell used items (thrift stores). There are several online selling platforms, including Kijiji and eBay, where sellers can list their products at a lower price and you can negotiate with them. Therefore, looking for websites and stores that sell second-hand items can help you save some money.  

Actually go to Class:

We get it: going to your 8 AM class in the middle of winter is the last thing that you want to do. However, take into consideration that you are paying a lot of money for these classes. If you want to get your money’s worth, it is essential that you attend every class if possible. First of all, some professors count attendance and include that in your final grade. If you don’t show up to class, you are automatically losing up to 5% or even 10% of your grade at the end of the semester. Even if attendance isn’t required, don’t let this fool you into thinking attending class isn’t important. Many professors will drop hints on what you should focus on for exams and will give additional notes on powerpoints, something that you won’t get if you skip class. In difficult classes especially, these additional hints and tips can ensure that you succeed. If you fail the class because you didn’t care enough to show up, you will definitely kick yourself later if you have to pay $500+ again for the same class. 

Take Advantage of your Non-instructional Fees and On-campus Resources:

Do yourself a favour and take a look at your fee assessment. Here you will find that on top of your tuition you are also paying for something called “non-instructional fees”. Often, they include your student union fee, gym membership, and bus pass. You usually cannot opt-out of these fees, so you may as well take advantage of them. Instead of paying $50 every month for your gym membership, utilize the gym provided for students on campus. Familiarize yourself with the resources provided by your student union. They usually offer free mental health resources, sexual health resources, and other freebies that you are more than welcome to take. Many local attractions offer free or discounted admission as well. Both the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Art Gallery of Alberta offer free admission for students. Other attractions may have free admission on specific days, for example, the Royal Ontario Museum has free admission on Tuesdays. The quantity of these deals will vary depending on your local situation but taking the time to find cheap or free activities in whichever city you’re in will save you a lot of money. 

Take Public Transport, Walk, or Bike:

Unless you live close to your university, your only option is to take public transportation. If you were wondering why I said “your only option”, it’s because having your own car, or driving your parents’ car can be expensive. When it comes to having your own vehicle, you have to pay for insurance, maintenance, and gas, unless you’re using your parents’ vehicle which means you might only have to pay for gas… however, let’s not forget about parking on campus. The parking fee on university campuses is so high that taking the bus or train is the better option, versus spending a lot of money on parking. You’ll save so much money by taking public transportation that you can purchase other important items. Nevertheless, if you live near the school, you might be able to save some extra money by walking or biking. Aside from saving money, biking or walking can also be beneficial to your health both physically and mentally. 

Wait to Buy a Pet until after you Graduate:

I feel like this should be a given, but you’d be surprised how many people opt to buy a pet as soon as they move out. Pets are great: they are companions and for many offer great stress relief. However, they won’t relieve your stress if they are costing you a fortune. Pets are a huge responsibility. You have to actually take care of them because they won’t do that themselves. Consider the cost of food, vet visits, toys, and other miscellaneous purchases you will have to make for your pet. This money could easily be tuition money for you. So, even though you may want to have a furry companion to come home to every day, the costs associated with that are not worth it when you have bigger things to pay for (your student loans maybe?).

Get a Job:

Yeah, this tip is pretty straightforward and obvious. Then perhaps it’s time for you to find a job. No matter whether it’s part-time or full-time, you’ll still be earning money. It may seem difficult to balance school and work, but there are ways to ensure you have enough time to devote to your studies. Make a daily/weekly schedule to help you manage your time. The ability to manage your time is an important skill in university, and this may be an ideal way to improve your ability to do so. Several university campuses offer positions to students who wish to earn a bit of money while taking classes. Since you won’t have to commute all over, this could be a great opportunity for you. Remember to balance your job and your education because no one will be pressuring you or reminding you to study or complete assignments while you are in university



You can use these tips as suggestions to save money, but always do your research before implementing these tips into your daily life. There are a variety of other ways you can save/make money!




Celina Macleod
Marisa Manichan