How to Be Money Smart as a Broke College Student


Photo by Robert Bogdan from Pexels

Lena Gripp, Contributing Writer

We all know how it is.  It’s the spring semester and everyone’s bank accounts are running thin.  The college lifestyle is expensive!  We’re quickly approaching summer jobs, but to help pinch some pennies until then I’ve prepared a list of ways to cut costs and make your money last during the school year!

  • Make use of the Hy-Vee Fuel Saver + Perks program.  As college students, we all need gas and groceries.  Try shopping at Hy-Vee for Fuel Saver items and add they’ll add that cash to your account.  Once you’ve racked up some money, grab some gas at Casey’s General Store, and see how much you’ll save!  I got almost $20 in gas once for $0.11!
  • Carpool with friends.  Fewer cars means less gas.  Simple.  When you do travel, make sure to gas up in Storm Lake.  It’s the cheapest gas you’ll find in any of the surrounding communities!
  • Collect your beer/pop cans and take them to a redemption center.  In Iowa, any bottle or can with “IA” on the redemption label can be returned to a redemption center for $0.05 apiece.  For just two hundred cans, you can get $10 back for them.  There isn’t a redemption center, but if you’re heading out west, there’s a redemption center in Cherokee, IA.
  • At SAB’s Midnight Movies, buy combo meals with your friends or significant other to save some money.  A #1 Combo is one large popcorn & two large drinks for $14.50, and a #2 Combo is one medium popcorn & two medium drinks for $13.50.
  • Save your spare change in a jar.  When your jar is full, take it into the bank to exchange for paper bills.  You’ll have money that you didn’t know you had!
  • Sure, Storm Lake is full of restaurant options from all over the world but limit yourself to eat out with your friends at most once a week.  Eating out is expensive, but you still deserve a treat once in a while!
  • Ask about a rewards program or happy hour specials at your favorite coffee shops.  Storm Lake has a handful of coffee shops, including: two Grand Central Coffee Stations, Coffee Tree, Better Day Café, a Scooter’s Coffee on its way, and even Common Grounds on BVU’s campus.  Take advantage of those opportunities!
  • During Christmas time, you’re probably spending too much money on gifts for your family/friends/SO.  If you need something generic, like wrapping paper, try checking Dollar General or Dollar Tree.
  • Use cash instead of a card.  Using cash gives a physical representation of the money you’re spending, which helps to avoid spending more than you realize.  Also, try using coupon apps, or simply don’t buy it if it’s not on sale!