Between the infamous meals of instant ramen and frantic calls home asking for spare cash, financial stress can dominate a college student’s life. After forking over such a large sum to cover tuition, college students are often left with little money to spend on themselves. Here are five unexpectedly easy ways to save money in college and help alleviate that financial burden. 

#1 Consider becoming an RA

Many schools waive room and board fees in exchange for upperclassmen serving as resident advisors in underclassmen dorms. This method can save you thousands of dollars and give you the opportunity to mentor younger students. Not only do you get to live for free, but you also have the opportunity to gain leadership experience as an RA. This experience can be handy in getting you future jobs and internships, making the gig a long term investment.

#2 Eat out during lunch or happy hour

Eating out is expensive and should be limited on a college budget. Without a kitchen, many students find themselves overspending on meals out. Not to mention if you are doubling your expenses by also paying for a school meal plan you can find yourself in a stressful overspending cycle. The easiest solution is to stick to your schools meal plan and limit additional food splurges.  However, if you’re ever pulled along by friends into town to have a nice sit-down meal, try to convince them to eat out during lunch or happy hour. Restaurants typically offer better prices and specials during these times, so you can enjoy your food without regret. If you do have a kitchen, check out these easy meals all under $10!

#3 Start a side hustle

Don’t sleep on the side hustle. More that 50% of millennials have a side-hustle. It may seem overwhelming to balance a side-gig and school, but any small effort helps you and your bank account to stay on track. There are tons of easy ways to make a couple of extra bucks on campus that will help keep your finance stress on the low. Your school is an academic hub with no shortage of studies needing volunteers. Offering up just a little bit of your time to participate in a research study can typically earn you $15-$30, and you’ll be advancing human knowledge at the same time. You can also charge a small fee to tutor other students and give feedback on their resumes or papers, or join a service where you can work on your own time, such as Uber or DoorDash. Check out our list of side hustles for more inspiration.

#4 Take advantage of the library

Library’s aren’t just for books! Your school’s library network can be a treasure trove of film and music. Make sure to check yours out before you drop money on cable, video streaming services, or music platforms. But if the thought of leaving your Netflix subscription behind is already giving you separation anxiety, try just going a month without it and using the library’s resources instead. Decluttering your subscription services is an easy way to save a-lot of money instantly! You’ll end up with a few extra bucks in your pocket and possibly a long-term financially sustainable habit.

#5 Buy appliances off other students at the end of the year

Condensing an entire dorm room into a car filled with family members is a nearly impossible task, which means that a lot of college students are forced to leave behind valuable appliances before they head home. Chances are you can snag a mini-fridge, coffee maker, lamp, and the like off a fellow student at little to no cost. Whether you keep them for yourself or try to sell them, this method is a fool-proof way to save some dough. Of course, nothing’s more important than budgeting well and avoiding late payments and overdrafts. Luckily, Rize & Shine Newsletter give you weekly budgeting tips and savings challenges, so you can come out of college with a degree and healthy budgeting habits.