Money-Saving Tips for College Students

More Money for Beauty with These Money-Saving Tips!

A college student’s budget for their favorite beauty products can be a difficult animal to wrangle, especially for incoming college students, so I thought I’d offer up some of my personal tips and tricks on budgeting with a beauty enthusiast’s desires in mind–save money…. so you can have a bigger beauty budget :)


There is probably no bigger drain on the budget than the outlandish costs of textbooks. This goes for all levels of post-secondary education (I paid $250 for a b-school textbook a year or two back–are you serious?). When and wherever possible, obtain books outside of your school’s bookstore and try to get them gently used. I’m totally with anyone who can’t handle a book owned by voracious highlighter, so I always kept an eye out in the used book’s description about it. You’d be surprised that you can find gems that were virtually untouched (and probably read minimally by that darling A+ student who already knew it all) for anywhere from 20-80% off the list price. I loved Amazon, personally, both for buying and reselling textbooks.

It’s a good idea to start off with a textbook price comparison site (like, and then go from there. Check out what sites offer free shipping, see where they’re located (e.g. if you’re buying a week before class, you might not want to buy from somewhere across the coast–unless you’re paying for quicker shipping). Then check out coupon sites for any existing coupons (free shipping, 5% off, etc.). If you want the best deals, make sure you start hunting earlier rather than later. The market for used books is like anything else; you’re not the only one hunting for a good deal. Plus, you want to give yourself enough time receive the book.

If you can’t find it used, do price comparison shopping at major retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. My mom always had a BN membership, so I frequently bought new books there that I couldn’t find cheaper used (often English novels and the like), but just as often, I bought off of Amazon. (And if you’re a student, consider the Amazon Student program where you essentially get Amazon Prime benefits–free two-day shipping–for six months at no cost.) Free two-day shipping (and just $3.99 for overnight) has saved my butt SO many times when I’m down to the wire and class has already started!

More tips:

  • Ask friends who have taken the class previously for their books (you might even offer to pay or take them out for lunch/dinner).
  • Ask the professor if you can use a previous edition of a book (90% of the time, it’s totally OK) – if you don’t want to ask, look to see what the time lapse between editions was; the larger the gap, the more likely they made more revisions–but if they put out a new edition every 9 months, you could probably get away with the old edition.
  • Rent your textbook! This was only just bubbling up when I had gone through most of my classes, so I can’t weigh in, but it might be a viable option!


When class has wrapped up, be quick about reselling your textbooks! I can’t emphasize this enough, because it’s something I very often failed to do. Whether you bring a box to your school’s bookstore or you sell them yourself (I always used Amazon), do it right away. Editions change frequently, so you don’t want to get too behind. I have some law school textbooks that were $200+ when I purchased them but are worth $20 now. When shipping out books, use media mail if possible, and if you use USPS, try to cram that book into a flat rate box if you can’t use media mail. If your book wasn’t worth much to begin with or it’s not worth much now, factor in costs to ship and whether it’s worth it.


Unless you’re scarfing down fast food everyday, eating out is generally more expensive than cooking something for yourself or using the dormitory food plan if you’re on campus. We would always grab fruit, muffins, etc. to take with us, too (my school let you take one item plus one drink cup out) for in-between class snacks. If you want to eat out, use sites like, which offer big discounts on dining out. If you live in a pretty populated area, you can luck out for some good restaurants at a fraction of the cost–but make sure to read all the fine print about minimums. The cost of buying drinks during a meal add up, and this is a big money maker for restaurants. I’m not in school any more, but we cut out drinks (and stick with water) years ago except for the rare occasion. $3 for lemonade or soda can add up!

More tips:

  • Find out if your school has any partnerships in place with local restaurants.
  • Look for reward cards–like Pinkberry has a stamp card, Starbucks comps extras like soy milk if you use a reloadable card, etc.
  • Happy hour doesn’t have to mean just drinks; a lot of restaurants do half-off appetizers.


Whether it’s for clothes, shoes, or beauty, watch for big sales. For clothing/shoes, these are much more frequent, and I always liked to partake in back-to-school sales the most. If you love a particular store or brand, get on their email list so you can find out about upcoming sales before they happen. When it comes to beauty, sales are less frequent, but one that most of us anticipate is Sephora’s Friends & Family sale in November. This is an excellent time to stockup on your staples; your moisturizers, concealers, primers, foundations, etc.


This will save you money (and stress) in the long-run, but a motto I like to live by is to live within my means, so I don’t get to use a credit card and rack up charges that I can’t pay for out of my bank account.  Be fiscally responsible and think of credit cards as being convenient, but they’re not there so you can just borrow money like it’s water.  They’re good for emergencies, when you’re in-between paychecks, or when you can find a good financing deal (like paying for your laptop in 12 monthly installments with no interest–but just make sure you are on top of those payments so you don’t incur past interest charges if you don’t pay in full by the end of the financing deal date).  I had a friend in college who managed to get herself into $20,000 credit debt, and after hearing about that, it’s not something you want to get yourself into.  For most, the interest rates in credit cards is ridiculous, so please take care and don’t buy a $3,000 purse you know you can’t afford.  Credit cards are no doubt tantalizing, but don’t let them abuse you!  Besides, aren’t the student loans daunting enough?

Do you have any money-saving tips for our students?