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Four Easy Ways for Students to Save Money

August 17, 2016


As classes begin for the 2016-2017 academic year, college students everywhere are being reminded of one simple fact: Life isn’t cheap. Financial aid is great, but it may only stretch so far. What is a money-minded student to do? Nelnet has you covered. Here are four easy ways for students to save money throughout the year. (For a much larger list, check out our Budget Strategies worksheet.)

1. Watch your thermostat

Okay, don’t literally watch your thermostat. (Although, if you find watching your thermostat entertaining, that probably would be cheaper than a cable subscription.) Instead, think before you crank up the A/C in the summer or the heater in the winter. Is the effort to maintain your paradise-like temperature worth the extra dollars each month? According to, you can save as much as 10 percent each year by adjusting your thermostat 7-10 degrees for 8 hours a day.

2. Make your own lunch

Eating out is quick. It’s convenient. It’s (arguably) delicious. But, wow, it can add up quickly! notes that brown-bagging could save you up to $1,500 each year. Ask yourself, is the Baconator really worth it?

3. Buy generic

Brand names are comforting. They’re the printed reassurance that your package of pain relievers will not cause your toes to swell or your eyebrows to shed. Alas, for generic drugs to gain FDA approval, they must meet standards that ensure that they are the same basic products as the name brands. In other words, generics can be just as effective at a lower price. Consumer Reports notes that generic medications can cost up to 95-percent less than name brands.

4. Make a budget

Where does the money go? That’s not a rhetorical question. Literally, where does your money go? If you don’t know, that’s a problem. Budgeting helps you track your expenses and can make you aware of how much you are spending on “wants” rather than “needs.” Sure, beginning a budget may seem like a daunting task, but we have you covered. Check out our Budgeting Worksheet in our Library.

Saving money may sound painful, but – as you can see from the above tips – it doesn’t have to be. For more tips on how to stay financially fit as the school year begins, check out our Live Life Smart Guide.


Derek Larson, Nelnet

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