10 Discounts and Budgeting Tips for College Students in the City
Unless you recently won the lottery or came into an inheritance from a distant, well-to-do relative, managing money in college can be a total struggle. Maybe you’re balancing work shifts with course loads, relying on student loans, or simply thinking frugally while living on your own in the city. No matter your situation, we’ve got your back—and your budget—with tips for getting a handle on your finances as you get that paper (we’re talkin’ diploma).
Beyond Ramen: Budgeting 101
It’s common for universities to offer students access to credit unions with free checking and savings accounts—with no monthly fees and online bill pay, too. As you start a new semester, be on the lookout for a local credit union around your city. From there, set up your checking account and kickstart a solid financial foundation.
A budgeting app can help keep track of your finances, and help improve those other areas where you can totally cut back on spending. Toshl Finance makes setting up a monthly budget a breeze, letting you enter your income and expenses with reusable tags to get a crystal-clear image of where your money goes. Others, like Left to Spend, keep it simple with a “$20 in an envelope, daily” kinda method. And then there’s our comprehensive guide, too.
The difference between “need” and “want”
Differentiating between "needs" and "wants” can help you stay within budget, especially when money’s particularly tight. Needs come first—think basics like food, clothing, and your bills. If there’s money left over, that’s when you ask yourself, “How happy will these inflatable unicorn cup holders really make me?”
Expect the unexpected
If you face a surprise medical or dental expense, or lose a part-time job, you’ll be way ahead of the game if you have money saved in an emergency fund. If you’re stressing, you can likely consult with someone at your school’s financial aid office, who may know about scholarship opportunities or grants—sometimes specific to your school and even major—you weren’t aware of.
Flash that ID: Student Discounts
Fancy yourself an Apple fan?Then you may already know about its Education Store, which offers hefty discounts on Mac computers and iPads. But that’s not all! Apple’s currently offering free Beats wireless headphones to students when they buy a Mac or iPad Pro in-store through early October. Microsoft has an Education Store, too, with discounts starting at 10% off all Windows PCs and accessories. If you’re currently on the hunt for some techy lecture hall tools, students can save $80 on Surface Pro 3 tablets, $100 on Lenovo Ideapad Flex 5 PCs, and a whopping $150 discount on Microsoft Surface Book Intel Core i5s. If you’re more of a Dell enthusiast, you’ll be pleased to know that students receive 2% off the price of a computer and a free tablet with the purchase of a PC for $700 or more. Not sure what type of computer suits your needs? No biggie! Check out Best Buy for discounts on laptops, desktop computers, and tons of other study-worthy accessories, many of which include free shipping.
Adobe is making it easy for students to get their hands on Creative Cloud. For $9.99 a month, you have access to Lightroom and Photoshop, or pay $19.99 monthly to use Adobe’s 20-plus creative apps. Sound steep? Not when the standard rate for access to the full spectrum of Adobe apps is around $50 a month. Nobody wants a computer virus, either. Norton—yep, the award-winning antivirus and security software provider—offers student discounts on software to help protect your PC, Mac, and mobile devices.
From Anne Taylor’s elegance to Topshop’s party girl (and boy) glamour, there’s a retailer with discounts to fit your budget—and style. It’s not just online, either. Countless retail stores offer a discount for students with a valid college ID. Remember, all you have to do is ask.
The Perks of Being a Student: Free Stuff
Students receive a 6-month free trial of Amazon Prime, which includes free two-day shipping on purchases, unlimited streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows through Prime Video, access to unlimited photo storage through Prime Photos, and tons more. After the trial ends, students also are eligible to receive 50% off Amazon Prime (including all Prime benefits!) for four years or until you graduate—whichever comes first.
Just because you have to live like a starving artist in college doesn’t mean you can’t be art-rich. While many museums offer student discounts, others go one step further, offering—ca-ching!—free admission to visitors with a college ID. Getting schooled at one of these schools? The Museum of Modern Art in New York is free! It’s not just MoMa that’s hyped on $0 student admission, either. The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, and Art Institute of Chicago all have similar programs.
Access to ticketed events
Colleges and universities across the country offer students free tickets to sports games, local concerts, live shows, and more with a valid student ID. Some schools even add in free bus or shuttle rides to the event and back to campus. Make sure to check if you qualify for free tickets, and get them early—they go fast!
What are your favorite student money-saving perks? Educate us in the comments below!