Christa Geraghty | 

13 (Crazy) Ways Broke College Students Can Save Money

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I’m not here to tell you to fill out the FASFA, take CLEP exams, or use your college student discount to save money; that’s what parents and academic advisors are for. I’ve got crazier ways broke college students can save a buck. Look, college is a time you’re supposed to learn some independence, get creative, and think outside the box. So, that’s exactly what my tips will do: help you get through school in the not-so-typical money-saving fashion.

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1. Save hundreds of dollars and share textbooks with fellow students.

A person pulling a college textbook off a shelf

Don’t buy textbooks if you can help it. If you have a roommate or friend in the same class, share theirs or at least go halves. You can also try checking out the book from your school’s library and photocopying the chapters you need or snapping pics with your phone. Most colleges give you free copying credits each semester. Shrink the size and copy two pages at a time.

If these aren’t options, save money and rent your books online at Amazon or other textbook rental sites like and


2. Turn trash around the college campus into cash.

A scuffed up vintage dresser in a garage.

Got a knack for finding the beauty in all things, including garbage? You’re in luck if you live on or near a college campus, because they are a goldmine of discarded furniture and home goods. Why not pick out some top-notch finds and sell them to earn a few extra bucks? The best times to look for discards are during semester breaks and certainly at the end of the school year, when everyone moves out.

You can sell through various websites and apps such as:

ThredUP and Poshmark are also good for making money selling used clothing.


3. Stockpile freebies and samples.

Free sample of product in Sephora.

Freebies and samples can come in handy and help you keep money in your pocket. Be sure to also sign up for birthday freebies at restaurants and retailers.

Here are a few other places you can score free goodies:

  • Beauty product samples at the makeup counter at Ulta or Sephora
  • Toothpaste, dental floss, and toothbrushes from your dentist
  • In grocery stores, like the Freeosk at Walmart or Sam’s Club
  • In the school health office, they have free contraceptives and samples of over-the-counter medicine.
  • At hotels, ask the housekeeping staff if you can grab some extra shampoos, etc off the cart. I always do this and have no shame.


4. Grate unused soap for DIY laundry detergent.

Home made laundry detergent pods.

Now that you’re a broke college student you can’t be running out and buying new things to replace your old things. Instead, get crafty and recycle or repurpose your stuff. You’d be surprised at what you can reuse.

Before you read on, be sure to bookmark the KCL Laundry Deals page to stay informed about all the deals.


5. Save on spring break when you rent an RV for less than five bucks a day.

An rv parked along side a road in the mountains.

Instead of the traditional expensive spring break week at a bougie beach resort, rent an RV for $5 a day and camp out with your roomies or friends. You can still hit up all the same bars and beaches but won’t have to pay the massive full-season rates for a hotel. This type of deal is cheap because you’re taking the vehicle one way. Yep, you’ll have to fly or rent another RV or car to get back, but this is still cheaper than the cheapest motel.



6. College students get free room and board working on an organic farm.

A young adult woman picking strawberries in a strawberry field in Australia.

Looking for something new and different for your next summer break? Help out on an organic farm anywhere in the world and learn about sustainability through WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) and your room and board while there is free.


7. Learn to love cheap meals that go a long way.

gnocchi from nurture life on a plate next to green beans

When it comes to stretching your food budget, you don’t have to sacrifice flavor and nutrition. Everyone talks about ramen as the basic college kid dinner, but there are other cheap meals that bring a lot more to the table (literally). Check out our guides to eating without breaking the bank:


8. Make the dollar store your go-to.

Bic razors at Dollar General

Your local dollar store can be a lifesaver for your wallet. While there are things you shouldn’t buy at the dollar store, there are plenty of dollar deals that can’t you find elsewhere. Some deals can even make you a few bucks. Here’s an example of a recent moneymaker from Dollar General:

Buy 1 BIC Flex 3 Titanium Disposable Razors, 3-count $4, regular price
Use one $4.00/1 – BIC Soleil, Flex or Hybrid Razors OR Sensitive 2 Disposable Razors 10 count
And use one $3.00/1 – BIC Soleil, Flex, Hybrid razor pack or Sensitive 2, 10-count disposable razor pack, Dollar General Digital Store Coupon
Final Price: $3 Moneymaker

Combine coupons and rebate apps like Fetch Rewards or Ibotta to score freebies like this one at Dollar Tree:

Buy 1 Pine-Sol, 9.5 oz $1, regular price
Submit one $1.00/1 – Pine-Sol or Clorox, Fetch Rewards Offer (
Pay $1, submit for $1 Fetch Rewards credit
Final Price: Free

Before you read on, be sure to bookmark the KCL Dollar Tree Deals page to stay informed about all the deals.


9. Pick up an easy side hustle.

A person looking at a survey app on a cell phone

Of course, making more money is sometimes easier than saving it. If you’ve got some idle time on your hands after you’re done studying, why not try your hand at a side hustle? In addition to online gigs like taking opinion surveys and transcribing audio files, you can donate plasma to a local plasma donation center and make up to $1,000 your first month.



10. Shop bargains at online clothing resale stores.

The Poshmart app on a cell phone. A The North Face jacket is in the background.

Online secondhand stores like Poshmark and thredUP sell brand faves like Converse, Gucci, TORRID, and Vans for up to 90% off of retail. You can find other online exclusives like when you create an account or sign up to receive emails or newsletters — you’ll often get a one-time discount. For example, thredUP offers 50% off your first order, which is on top of their already huge discounts! You can also find deals on eBay and Instagram.


11. Coupon, coupon, coupon for free stuff.

A receipt showing $0 balance next to a pack of mechanical pencils.

Whether it’s for groceries, eating out, or health and beauty products, use coupons. College is no time to worry about being brand loyal. If an item is on sale and you have a coupon for it, it’s your new favorite brand, for now. Where do you find out about coupon deals and how to get them? Download the KCL app and I’ll tell you where to find them and what coupons you need to get every week, along with links to the coupons. Here are examples of a moneymaker and a freebie from Target:

Buy 1 Grove Co. Hand Soap Dispenser $13.99, regular price
Buy 1 Grove Co. Hand Soap, 13 oz $4.99, regular price
Buy refill, get dispenser free
Submit one $0.08/1- Grove Co. Hand Soap Dispenser, Shopkick Scan (
And submit one $0.08/1 – Grove Co. Hand Soap, Shopkick Scan (
And submit for $8.00/1 – Grove Co. Hand Soap & Dispenser, Shopkick Rebate (
Pay $4.99, submit for $8.16 Shopkick credit
Final Price: $3.17 Moneymaker, when you buy 2
Buy 1 BIC Soleil Disposable Razors, 3-4 ct (reg. $4.99) $3.99, sale price
Use one $4.00/1 – BIC Soleil, Flex or Hybrid Razors OR Sensitive 2 Disposable Razors 10 ct
Final Price: Free


12. Sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime Student and other services.

A person sitting at a laptop computer with the Amazon Prime Student sign up page open on the screen.

Want to stream movies, read Kindle books, and listen to Amazon Music for free? Sign up for a six-month trial of Amazon Prime Student. That’s two-thirds of a school year at no cost. Remember to cancel before your trial is up if you don’t want them to automatically charge your card.

You also get a free trial of a ton of different student services including Course Hero, Calm Premium, and GrubHub+. After your trial ends, you can get majorly discounted subscription rates. You can also see big savings on travel booked through StudentUniverse.

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