College part 1: making and saving money in college

Kathleen Kelley
7 min readOct 3, 2020

Often times in college you will run low on money or run out. There are many posts on how to make and save money. Why should you read mine? I cover some things other people won’t think of and other colleges may not have.

  1. The first way is a known way to save money, and get some of your money back at the end of each semester. Buy books on Amazon, Ebay or Chegg.com and then at the end of the semester resell them. Also, get an older version of the textbook. Usually it’s the same but it might be in a different order or something. Obviously this will not always work but it is a good start rather than buying them from the bookstore.
  2. At major universities you tend to have to pay for parking. Find a way to not pay normal parking prices when you drive to campus and have to pay for parking. Park in a parking garage or park off campus if you can.

As for University of Houston parking I haven’t seen anything that enforces people to pay for a permit so sometimes information on a website can be wrong. Look for options. By not paying for a permit you can save at least a $1,000 or more depending on the price of parking.

3. Live at home. This is huge. Prices for dorms can range from a little under $3,000 to a little under 6,500 as of 2020 for University of Houston. While some prices are included in this, this won’t include a possible meal plan or other expenses you might think of.

4. Go to school in-state. I know people often go to Ivy league schools to make connections and whatnot but people can make connections anywhere. It’s not some secret society or program that only pertains to Ivy league schools. If you want to just get away from your parents, or you want to experience college in full and think getting away is the way to do it, live on campus or in an apartment. You don’t have to pay the school out of state expenses which is just a rip-off and you can come home easily for the holidays instead of having to take a plane each time you need or want to come home.

5. Get a job. Yes, this is in every article you’ll see about making money in college. It is there for a reason. It works. One thing I learned though while in college is don’t job hop. Don’t do it. It’s not worth trying to get a job you get paid a dollar or two more while you live at home or on campus and your expenses are most likely paid by someone. Find a job you like because you like the coworkers, the work environment, or both if you can. Once you find that place, stay there. Don’t go anywhere and if you do make sure it’s a good place to work for. I got desperate to leave a job at one point after working there for three years and three months. I had started job searching somewhere at the end of my time there and found another job. It most likely the worse, if not one of the worse, companies to work for. I hated it. It was awful. I made the mistake of not looking into the reviews unlike I did for all the other places I applied to and I paid for it. I did stay there for nine months before quitting for a job I thought I would like more. It didn’t work out and I ended up going back to my first job. Sometimes you have to go with the saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. I am not going to say I regret my time at the job I had for nine months. I learned things I wouldn’t have learned at my first job, and started investing because of it which I always wanted to do, it just made doing so a little easier.

6. Sell on a website. I don’t care what it is. If Ebay works for you, sell on Ebay, if Mercari works for you, sell on Mercari. I find for Ebay I did have to list at least 100–150 items or so to start selling consistently and I prefer Ebay. This pertains to number 11 but I put it separate so I could talk a little bit about it.

7. Go to Community College if you decide to go to college. Despite it being 2020 there is still stigma about going to community college. In spite of that you should go to get classes that don’t pertain to your major out of the way. Also it’s a good way to transition from high school to college. It can give you a lot of the college feel without the major expenses. It doesn’t have a lot of things a University has as far as campus life but if you go to community college it’s not like you’ll never have those experiences. It also can save you a lot of money on classes and parking. I know at my community college they didn’t charge for parking. This website lists some benefits and drawbacks to community college, but as I said, it’s not like you’ll never go to a major university if you go to community college:

8. Get a general studies degree for your Associate’s degree if you aren’t 100 percent certain about what you want to do. High school is a rather awful place to find out what you’re good or bad at. I found I was better at math than I thought and I liked it, unlike high school where I didn’t really like it. Will I major in it? No, but I found out something about myself I didn’t know before. High School pushes people from one class to the next and shoves everything they can at you for the next test. College you can be taught by professors who really want to teach and make sure people understand what is being taught. Also, it is less crowded and distracting than a high school setting making it easier to hear and learn. Also, while none of my college professors were out for an extended time when they were out at all, class was cancelled instead of getting a substitute like in high school who didn’t teach you or did a poor job of teaching you.

9. Don’t buy a meal plan. They’re overpriced. Just get your food at the grocery store and eat that. This also allows you the chance to learn how to cook.

10. Don’t pay for a gym membership Unless you plan to go five times a week and really like exercise, don’t pay for a gym membership. University of Houston offers a place on campus that is part of the tuition so that can’t be helped, but a separate price for the gym is ridiculous. Buying a yoga mat, some weights and whatever else you think you might need is the best way to go. Pop in a DVD for yoga, Pilates, or something similar. Go walk outside if you want to walk. Be kind to your wallet.

11. Take up a gig. This is a common option for college students. Make sure not to exhaust yourself when going to college between college, a job and a gig however. Also, you should have a job before you try a gig because at least you already have a constant stream of income coming in.

12. Living arrangements. If you want to live away from home in state, compare living on campus vs. living close to campus. Depending on the campus and other factors one will be cheaper than the other. Don’t just assume living off campus would be cheaper, or the other way around.

13. Figure out what you want to major in after one or two semesters but preferably before. The amount of time I could have saved by figuring this out sooner would have helped me so much. I got lucky, or rather I was smart enough, to start a General Studies Associates of Arts Degree when I started college because I didn’t know what to major in. I took required courses and while I figured out what I did or didn’t like as I mentioned before, I didn’t figure it out until it was too late and if I wanted to do anything with math or science that window had shut. At that point I had either started taking elective courses or I was about to. I can’t remember which, however getting an Associate’s degree allowed me to narrow my choices and I chose a degree instead of still being unsure after taking all the classes that were required. If I hadn’t been lucky however I would have had to take more courses and it would have cost a lot more money.

Some of these things I wish I had someone to tell me right away and while I did figure them out it would have been helpful to have someone talk with me about some of them. Those are things that will help any college student save money and will help any student with more than just where to buy and sell textbooks.

**Prices subject to change every year. These are prices according to 2020**

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Kathleen Kelley

I am a college student who works at a grocery store. I am majoring in journalism. I write about personal finance, college and things I wish I knew in life.