7 Ways College Students Can Save Money in NYC
Aug 11, 2023
With the cost of college rising over the past 40 years, it’s more important than ever to be smart about saving for and during the school year. And when you go to school in one of the most expensive cities in the world, living on the cheap is challenging, but possible. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the top seven financial tips for college students, centered around New York City.
Get a debit card that gives back
Opening a checking account is a great first step to controlling your finances if you don’t have one already. But not all accounts are created equal.
If your account doesn’t earn interest or give you deals and discounts, or if it comes loaded with monthly fees and ATM fees, then you’re losing a lot of value. For alums and fans of St. John’s University, the Johnny Card provides two different saving options, depending on the checking account you choose:
- Perks Checking gives you deals on big box stores, travel, prescription drugs, glasses and contact lenses, popular brands like Apple, Target and Adidas as well as everyday essentials like gas, delivery, dorm stuff and more.
- Interest Checking earns interest on your account balance, so the more you put in, the more you get back. This is a great way to save money automatically each month.
Become a budget and discount wizard
Once you have a bank account, budget your expenses for the school year and track your spending. Include everything: rent, utilities, transit, school supplies, party money, dining out, groceries, makeup, toiletries, etc. and identify a number to stay under every month. A good bank account will provide you tools to see your spending, receive alerts, avoid overdrafts and manage your account online. Through MFS online and mobile banking you can do just that. You can also take advantage of our personal money management tool to gain insights on where, when and how you save to help tailor your budget and create a savings plan.
Additionally, be sure to take advantage of the many student discounts and freebies offered both locally in NYC and nationally on everything from Broadway and museum admission to gym memberships and computer gear. For film buffs, if you’re a member of the Regal or AMC loyalty programs, you can get $7 tickets every Tuesday (plus fees, upping the total to around $9). AMC, Alamo Drafthouse, Nitehawk Cinema and Angelika Theater also offer various student discounts, but you’ll have to show your ID at the box office to buy.
Shop for essentials on the cheap
As people move in and out of apartments and dorm rooms at the beginning and end of the school year, they often pare down their belongings and look for ways to get rid of them fast. You can save a lot of money by buying second-hand items or getting them for free. But if you don’t want to spend your weekends stooping for free stuff on the street, check out this list of resources:
- College message boards and Reddit threads
- Buy Nothing Groups
- @StoopingInQueens on Instagram
- Used textbooks
- Buy and sell second-hand clothing at Poshmark or ThreadUp
Learn a few cheap and easy meals to make regularly
Indulging in takeout and delivery often can do some damage to your budget. Stick to your dining plan to maximize your time and savings. If you don’t have a dining plan and have access to a kitchen in your dorm room or apartment, pick four to five meals you love and make them part of your weekly routine. Start with this list of 30 easy recipes for college students from Budget Bytes.
Don’t have a kitchen? There are plenty of great meal, snack and sweet recipes you can make in your microwave. Finally, bring a coffee maker for your dorm room. Making coffee at home can save you about $50 each month to spend on other expenses or put into savings.
Look for ways to bring money in
If you haven’t done so yet, fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to determine your eligibility for financial aid. Next, make a habit out of hunting for scholarship opportunities, which you can do year round.
College life is busy, but chances are you’ll have time to earn money on the side. If you can manage a part-time job, go for it. Maspeth Federal Savings is always looking for candidates and we have a variety of full-time and part-time positions available.
Attend a financial literacy session
Maspeth Federal Savings holds regular financial literacy sessions at local schools and college campuses, where we teach students about saving, budgeting, and credit in addition to answering questions. Follow us on Instagram to find out where the next one is, or reach out to finlit at maspethfederal dot com to request a seminar at your school.
Define your future today
Following these tips will not only save you money today—they’ll also pay dividends in the future. The habits you build now will carry into adulthood when you’re busy working full-time. When smart spending is second nature, you can focus on the bigger picture: getting good grades, figuring out your career path, building new relationships and enjoying this exciting phase of life.