There's a reason the stereotype of a poor college student is so common. A 2022 study found that most college students have less than $250 left over after covering monthly expenses. That doesn't leave a lot of breathing room for fun or unexpected emergencies. When you're on a tight budget, it's important to make every penny count. Stretch your dollar further with these seven apps for college students that you can use to create a budget, track your spending, and invest in your future.
Investing is important to building long-term financial security, but finding the cash to open an investment account and buy stocks and bonds as a college student can feel impossible. Acorns makes it easier to get started. Plans start at just $3 per month, and you can invest in the stock market using only your spare change. With Acorns' round-up feature, every time you use a linked payment method—such as using your debit card at the grocery store—the app will round up the purchase to the nearest dollar and deposit the extra change into your investment account. Once you've reached $5, Acorns will invest it in exchange-traded funds (ETFs): baskets of stocks and bonds. Over time, you’ll be surprised by how much your spare change has added up.
After paying tuition and room and board, your biggest expense in college may be textbooks. With BookScouter, you can see how your university's bookstore prices compare to other textbook options. You may be able to find your required materials for much lower prices; according to the company, you can save up to 70% buying secondhand. BookScouter also offers textbook rentals if you don't want to hold onto your books. Once the semester ends, you can also use the app to sell your textbooks and get some of your hard-earned money back.
Because most college students take out loans, Changed can be particularly helpful. If you sync the app with your bank account and loan details, the app will round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and deposit the extra change to your account. Once you've built up $50, it will make a payment toward your student loans. By using the app while you're still in school, you can cut down on the interest that accrues. Over time, it could help you save a lot of money. The Changed app also allows your friends and family to help you. Instead of sending you a sweater you'll never wear or a gift card, your loved ones can make payments toward your debt and help you eliminate your loans faster.
PocketGuard is a budgeting tool that allows you to track your spending. You can use it to manage your bills and view your spending trends over time. The app will notify you when you overspend in certain categories, and you can even set savings or debt repayment goals. It also provides insights into your spending habits, letting you know where you tend to spend the most money and what merchants you frequent. Those details can help you identify areas where you can trim your spending to save for your other goals. The basic version of the app is free to use, but the extra features are about $7.99 per month.
5. Tasker by TaskRabbit
If you're low on cash, download Tasker from TaskRabbit to help you find local, one-time gigs to earn extra money. Common tasks include assembling furniture, pet sitting, yard work, and power washing, with pay varying by job and location. For example, assembling furniture pays an average of $33 per hour in Orlando, while pet sitting pays an average of $21 per hour. You can set your own rates and availability, so you can work around your classes and earn money in your free time, then take time off when you need to study.
6. Too Good to Go
Even if you're running on a tight budget, you may want to occasionally splurge. The Too Good to Go app is a great compromise—you can purchase unused, end-of-day food from restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, and even grocery stores at a fraction of the usual cost. You could get anything from a steak dinner to an iced latte for one-third of the price and help prevent food from going to waste—a win-win situation!
UNiDAYS is a mobile app specifically designed for college students. It allows users to find student discounts at major retailers, both in store and online. It's completely free to join, and you can save a substantial amount of money on clothes, electronics, gym equipment, and more. For example, you can use UNiDays to find discounts on Dell laptops, Adobe Creative Suite software, or even virtual therapy sessions through TalkSpace.
Dealing with your finances doesn’t have to be hard—you’re a tech-savvy student who can use the tools at your fingertips to save money, pay down debt faster, and still have a great time in college. Find apps that make your life easier and sit back in surprise by how your financial situation turns around!
Learn even more tips and tricks to build up your bank account with Our Best Advice for Managing and Saving Your Money as a Student.