It’s hard to save money in college when you have to spend thousands of dollars on tuition and have little to no income. But there are a few easy-to-use apps that can help.
This article will cover some of the best money saving apps for college students, many of which I have used myself.
From my own experience, I know that using these apps can save you hundreds of dollars, and you can keep saving money with them long after graduation.
12 Best Money Saving Appls for College Students
|$1, $3, or $5 monthly
|YNAB (You Need a Budget)
|34 days Free, then $11.99
|Recipes by Ingredients
Mint is a great app to track all your finances and creates a budget. Budgeting is one of the best ways to save money. College students need to know where their money is going to know where they can cut back. Mint is a free app that automatically connects to your bank, credit card and investment accounts to give you a full picture of your financial information.
So, with minimal effort, you can see your spending on the go. Mint also offers a free credit score. Millions of people use Mint, and the company promises a high level of security to keep your information private. They use bank-level encryption and monitoring to ensure the safety of your account.
Mint is owned by Intuit, the company behind Turbotax and Quickbooks, and the company prides itself in making finance simpler for everyone.According to PC Mag, “Mint is an exceptional personal finance service that has won multiple Editors’ Choice awards thanks to its simplicity, usability, and smart blend of financial tools.”
If you want a hands-off budgeting approach, and/or if you’re a beginner to building a budget, then Mint is perfect for you.
Acorns will help you with saving by rounding up purchases and investing in the change. The more time you have on your side in investing, the more potential you have to save and make money. Acorns helps college students easily save money by rounding up purchases on connected accounts and saving the change. Easily invest the change in your daily purchases and over time, it will add up.
Unfortunately, it does cost at least $1 a month to use Acorns. However, if you can save more than that using Acorns, it will pay off because the app invests it so that your spare change can make money for you.
More than 1.6 million people use Acorns, and the majority of them are between the ages of 18 and 34. Acorns uses a SIPC insured account, which is the equivalent of FDIC insured in investing, to keep your money safe. If you want hands-off, automatic investing then Acorns is perfect. Just make sure you have enough in your account to make it worth the fees.
You Need a Budget (YNAB) is the mantra of this app. The app gives every dollar a job and checks your spending on the go. It helps you plan and prioritize your spending, assigning a job to every dollar. YNAB helps you determine where to spend less, where to spend more, and how to save more.
The difference between YNAB and Mint is that Mint automatically syncs your spending and it’s more a way to observe your financials. On the other hand, YNAB is a more comprehensive planning tool that gives you more hands-on budgeting. It’s also secure with bank-grade encryption and will only share data with your computer if the connection is secure.
YNAB also has two books, two podcasts, a dedicated subreddit and a YouTube channel. Millions of people use it to save money. However, YNAB is one of the most expensive apps on this list. It’s free for the first 34 days but then it costs $11.99 a month or $84 a year. However, many people report saving much more than what they spend to use YNAB.
Honey is an app and browser extension that monitors items for the lowest prices across the internet. Honey helps you save money while shopping by tracking the prices of products across the internet and finding coupon codes to apply at checkout.
Honey works on thousands of sites including Amazon to help you get the lowest price on products. Honey is available as a free browser extension and as a mobile app, Honey Smart Shopping Assistant. I use Honey and every time I check out on a site I run the browser extension.
I also love the feature that allows you to see the average price of an item and when it’s likely to go on sale. I’ve saved around $50 to $100 in total using Honey.
Ibotta is a Cashback app for most major retailers and grocery stores. Earn cashback instantly wherever you shop with Ibotta. You can find offers on the app for different retailers and grocery stores. Then, scan your receipt to get instant cashback in the app.
I especially like that some items on Ibotta are free or almost free after the cashback. Before you go to the store, you can search for items with cashback in the app and create a shopping list.
Some of the items offer just a few cents back, while others are practically free after cashback. I’ve only saved a few dollars so far, but I know some people have saved hundreds using Ibotta.
One reviewer on their site explains, “I’ve earned $102.15 so far this year. I made $563.38 of lifetime earnings! It’s made it easier to shop and I love picking out snacks for cashback!”.
GasBuddy will help you find the cheapest gas stations near you and get rewards for gas purchases. Transportation can eat up a large chunk of a college student’s budget. Especially if you’re commuting to campus or driving home on the weekends, gas prices add up.
GasBuddy can help college students find the cheapest gas prices near them. In the app, you can see all the participating gas stations near you on a map with their prices. You also get points for your gas purchases towards winning prizes and can get deal alerts for extra savings. And, with a new feature GasBuddy helps you find discounted parking near you.
Over 32 million people use GasBuddy to get you the best gas deals. You can save up to $0.25 on each gallon at most gas stations nationwide, and according to the GasBuddy site, users have saved a total of almost $5 million with GasBuddy.
From my own experience with the app, you can save money on gas, but it is not available at every gas station. However, I suggest downloading it and checking out what deals are near you because you can still save a lot of money on transportation using the app. Plus, if you go on a lot of road trips, you’ll want this app.
Hopper is a popular app that can find and compare flight prices for you. Save trips and get notified when a flight price will be the lowest. Some college students live close to home and it’s easy to visit for the weekend, holidays, or special events. However, many do not.
I went to college a few states away from home – too far to drive. This app saved me a ton of money finding cheap flights whether I was heading home for the holidays, on a spring break trip, or off on a study abroad.
I like Hopper because it automatically alerts you to the best flight deals. You can choose to ‘watch a trip’. Then, Hopper will monitor deals across all airlines for you and let you know when to book for the cheapest price. You can also easily compare different trips, like flying into different airports.
My pro tip –Hopper charges a fee when you book on their app. So, I typically use it as a flight finder but then book my trip directly with the airline.
The cheapest flight I ever got on Hopper was $80 roundtrip within the U.S. But I’ve also found international flights to Europe for under $500 and to Latin America for under $500. I haven’t kept track, but I’ve easily saved hundreds of dollars using Hopper.
Hooked is an app that will help you with coupons for local restaurants. College students like to eat out too! This is one of the best money-saving apps for college students who like to eat out and try new restaurants. Hooked compiles local businesses that have agreed to offer coupons for college students.
The coupons vary each day and are good for finding food around college campuses. Simply find the coupon you want and show it at the restaurant. You can also discover new restaurants around town.
You can simplify the answer to “where do you want to eat tonight?” As one reviewer on their site explains, “as a very indecisive person this app has also helped me decide where to eat numerous times.” The perfect for foodies, this app can help college students save money every time they eat out. It’s available in most states; check out the map on the Hoooked website to see if it’s available near you.
Recipes by Ingredients
Recipes can create recipes based on the ingredients you have at home. Have you ever stood in front of the fridge wondering what to make, and finally decide to eat out instead? In my freshman year of college, I never knew what to cook! I always had food, but I didn’t know what to make.
Recipes by Ingredients has an ingenious solution. This app allows you to put in the ingredients you have on hand and it will give you a list of easy recipes you can make. I’ve used it before and was honestly impressed by the ability of the app’s algorithm to come up with a delicious recipe from very few ingredients.
You can save money by not letting food go to waste, avoiding last-minute trips to the grocery store, and eating in instead of eating out. Plus, you might learn a few recipes you love. This app is also perfect for the end-of-the-month, don’t have much food left but can’t afford to eat out conundrum.
With Pocket Points, you can earn points for being on campus and redeem them for prizes. Pocket Points rewards students for not using their phones during class. You simply need to download the app and lock your phone during class. The longer you leave it locked, the more points you get. Then you can redeem points for rewards like clothing, food or gift cards.
I used Pocket Points in school and found that it really does work. Not only did it encourage me to stay off of my phone in class, but it also rewarded me with points. I’ll admit it did take a month or two to rack up enough points to redeem anything, but it was a great pay-out for simply having the app and locking my phone in class.
The app uses a geofence to know when you’re on campus. So, sometimes you can even earn points from your dorm room! My pro tip, study in the library after class to rack up extra points faster. Thousands of students across the U.S. use Pocket Points and are getting paid to focus in class. As Time put it, “If only they could make this work for grown-ups at dinner parties.”
With OfferUp, you can buy and sell things locally and get paid through the app. As a college student, I moved around a lot. I had a new apartment about every year and every time I moved, I cleaned out my stuff to donate and sell. This saved me from accumulating too much stuff and helped me make a few extra dollars.
You can use OfferUp to buy and sell items locally. It functions similarly to Craigslist, eBay or Facebook marketplace. Each one has pros and cons, but OfferUp is becoming more popular. However, many users report making more on OfferUp than on other platforms. eBay has high seller fees and the cost of shipping can eat into your profit. Craigslist has high reports of fraud and users say that Facebook Marketplace will get your item a lot of views but not as many sales.
The best app for you may vary by where you live. But at the end of the day, college students can make a lot of money by selling their old things. I know some college students who have made hundreds of dollars selling cars, furniture, their gently used clothes, electronics, kitchen items and more.
You can use Facebook Marketplace and Buy/Sell Groups to find cheap textbooks, sell your stuff and even find or sell housing contracts. Facebook can be one of the best money-saving apps for college students if they know what resources are on the app. I’ve used Facebook marketplace, local buy and sell groups, and housing pages to save money.
On the Facebook marketplace, you can buy and sell gently used items. For instance, I’ve found brand new iPhones, cars, and clothing and shoes for inexpensive on the Facebook marketplace. I’ve also sold a few items myself and have made about $100, but I also know people who have made much more.
You can also use Facebook to find cheap textbooks. Textbooks are expensive, and so I always bought used when I could. Many universities have a Facebook group where you can buy and sell textbooks.
Finally, Facebook also has several housing groups where you can find local housing for cheap or sell your contract. It’s a great way to compare prices for different housing complexes and get an estimate for housing costs in your area. I’ve sold a previous apartment contract on a Facebook group and from my experience, the offers there go pretty quickly.
Benjamin is a certified financial advisor, with over 10 years of experience in the industry. He is knowledgeable about various business and financial topics, such as retirement planning and investment management. Ben has been recognized for his work in the financial planning industry. He has also been featured in various publications.