Graduates are notorious for having small amounts of money when they leave college. They’re only just beginning their careers, and they don’t have high salaries to manage mortgages, bills, and everything else that comes with living independently.
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to immensely reduce your outgoings. Here are 38 quick and easy ways to save money as a recent college graduate.
1. Use Receipt Scanning Apps
Receipt scanning apps are a great way to get cash back on groceries and other everyday items. Depending on the app, you can earn cash back for specific items or your total purchase price on the receipt.
One of the most popular receipt scanning apps is Ibotta, primarily meant for getting cash back with groceries. Earn anywhere from $.25 cents to $5 per item that you purchase. The best part is that you can earn cash back on more than one item per receipt. Here’s a quick summary of how it works:
- Sign-up for a free Ibotta account by clicking this link here. When you use the referral code qFTVA, you automatically get a $10 bonus after scanning your first receipt.
- Keep your grocery receipt after you make a purchase. As of recently, Ibotta has also expanded to other categories such as restaurants and electronic stores.
- Take a picture of your receipt after your purchase. Keep in mind that with this app, you have to make purchases from one of their partnered stores and a product that appears on the app. Not to worry, as Ibotta has over a thousand offers and they’re partnered with most popular retailers.
- Wait up to 24 hours for your receipt to be validated. When taking a picture, be sure to include the entire receipt to make sure you get credited.
- When you reach a minimum balance of $10, cash out for a gift card. Wait until you get to $20 to cash out directly to PayPal.
If you’re looking for other receipt scanning apps, check out our list of 11 receipt scanning apps that work just like Ibotta. The best part is that you can combine these apps, meaning sometimes you can get cash back for the same receipt twice – or even three times.
2. Use Cash Back Portals When Shopping Online
Cash back portals are online websites that pay you cash each time you shop online. These sites are partnered with thousands of retailers across the web. Click on one of their links and be redirected to the retailer of your choice. Make a purchase like you normally would, but receive cash back on your purchase.
There’s absolutely no cost to these portals, and on average you can save 7% on all online purchase. The most popular portal with the best rates is called TopCashback. Here’s a quick summary of how it works:
- Sign-up for a free TopCashback account by clicking this link here. You’ll need to enter in your name and email along with creating a password. Each new member gets a $10 bonus.
- Log-in to your account and search for the retailer as your choice in their search bar at the top of the page. Using Walmart as an example, we see that we can earn 6% in cash back on all items (with a few exceptions). Keep in mind that these rates change.
- Click on the “Cashback” button to be redirected to the Walmart page. Make your purchase like you normally would.
- TopCashback will automatically keep track of your purchases. Within 10 days, the 6% cash back (or whatever the current rate for your store is) will appear in your account. Once you hit a minimum balance of $10, cash out to PayPal or for gift cards.
If you’re still confused on how these portals work, you can read our full portal guide.
3. Earn $50 When You Register With WealthSimple
WealthSimple is a robo-advisor that takes all of the complications out of investing for you. Select your financial profile by answering a few questions about your age, current assets, income etc.
From there, WealthSimple will determine your financial portfolio to help you invest in your future. Your portfolio is based on knowledge from experts in the industry, and the money you invest is meant to go toward a long, steady growth.
The best part? When you sign-up with WealthSimple you get a FREE $50 registration bonus when you deposit your first $500. You can use all of this money to start investing right away.
4. Ditch Cable
Cable is a major drain on your resources. It makes little sense to pay for a huge cable package if you only watch a few channels. Now when you have streaming services such as Amazon Prime, it makes little sense to pay such an expensive bill. Keep track of special deals to see if there’s discounts on a membership.
For as little as a few dollars a month, you can also join a service like Netflix. This service will give you access to all your favorite TV shows and movies from the comfort of your own computer. In order to get the full experience, hook up an HDMI cable to your television.
5. Sell Some of Your Trash
Most graduates will have unused or unwanted items in their homes. Rather than letting them gather dust, you should think about selling them online instead. You can also create a yard sale, but online selling is easier and you open yourself up to a wider audience. Two great sites for selling unwanted electronics include Amazon Trade-In and Decluttr.
6. Shop On AliExpress
While their customer service isn’t as great as Amazon, most of the items you see on Amazon are actually from AliExpress. The only difference is that shipping times can take as long as 2 months before the product arrives at your door. If you plan in advance, you can get the item you want for just a fraction of the price.
Out of all of the items I’ve ordered, I’ve never had a problem with my shipment. I just had to wait a little while before I received it.
7. Start A Blog
I started this blog two years ago writing only once every two weeks, and I was still receiving a little bit of traffic. After a few months and around 30 articles later, I was making an extra few hundred a month. While it isn’t much, it definitely helps.
Now my blog has grown to receiving roughly 3,000 visitors daily and supports my living expenses. Website hosting is remarkably cheap these days that anyone can start a blog. If you’re looking for tips on how to setup a blog, we put together a list of 7 detailed steps to start a successful finance blog. Even if you’re not interested in finance, these steps will still work.
8. Repair Clothes Instead of Getting New Ones
There’s no reason to get rid of a shirt just because it has a hole in it. Learn to sew and repair that hole with a sewing machine that costs under $100. While it’s an expensive cost upfront, over time you’ll be saving money. Repairing clothes can add years to their lifespan. This is especially valuable when you have a wardrobe filled with brand name items.
Avoid getting rid of clothing unless you absolutely have to. And when you do get rid of clothing, you should take it to a charity store. Many charity stores will even do swaps, where if you donate an item they’ll allow you to pick an item of similar value. Not only that, but it serves as a great tax write-off.
9. Learn to Coupon
Extreme couponing can literally save you thousands of dollars every year. It takes some work and knowledge to get started, but free services like Southern Savers can help you with this. Couponing is an easy way to get many common items for a fraction of the price, and sometimes you can pick up items for free.
I personally enjoy using Swagbucks since you get paid each time you use a coupon. This means you’re getting the discount in addition to points that can be used to claim rewards and prizes. Swagbucks also pays you to watch videos, complete free online offers and take polls. Feel free to read our full Swagbucks Guide.
10. Look for Free Entertainment Options
Even something as mundane as going to the movies can easily flush $20 down the drain. Take your friends or family and the costs can spiral out of control. Look around for free fairs and shows can be found through a simple search online.
Many movie theaters will even present free screenings and heavily discounted viewings. You might have to be more flexible with your schedule, but there’s no reason to spend more money than you have to.
11. Buy Discounted Gift Cards
Instead of making a purchase directly, buy a gift card to the retailer of your choice at a discount. I save nearly 8% on all Walmart purchases by using gift card vendor sites such as Raise combined with cash back portals. You even get a $5 bonus when you sign-up as a new user.
12. Learn Starbucks Hacks
It might be difficult to convince not to go to Starbucks for your coffee, so instead we’re going to mention a few ways to help you save money.
- Save 9% on all Starbucks purchases by buying a discounted gift card at Cardpool.
- Get $1 in cash back when you buy Starbucks drinks in stores using the Ibotta app and scanning your receipt. Use promotion code qFTVA upon sign-up to get a $10 bonus after your first receipt.
- Ask for no water when ordering tea. Your tea will be a bit stronger, but you’ll be getting twice the caffeine and taste for the same price.
- Don’t bother with the latte on the Starbucks menu. Instead, go with a triple espresso with ice in a Venti-sized cup and then add as much milk as you want. The taste is nearly identical, and you’ll be saving a few dollars.
- Bring your own tea. A cup of tea costs a minimum of $2 no matter the size at Starbucks. They’re always more than happy to give you a cup of hot water for $.25 cents. You can get a pack of 48 high-quality teas for under $10 on Amazon.
If you’d like to hear all of the ways you can save money at Starbucks, we’ve put together a list of 25 hacks that will help you save money at Starbucks.
13. Attend Yard Sales
Yard sales can be a great place for incredible bargains. The reason why people hold yard sales is to clear a large number of items quickly. This means you can find extremely valuable items for a fraction of the cost. For example, you can find great deals on book and furnitures.
If you’re savvy enough, you can buy the items and place them on eBay or Craigslist for resale. You might want to check other similar items first to see what they’re going for.
14. Clean Your Car’s Air Filter
Your car’s air filter it keeps your car efficient and prevents it from using more power than it needs to. A clogged air filter will eventually cause your car to degrade, which can lead to those costly repair bills. Not only that, but your gas mileage doesn’t go as far if it’s not clean.
Replacing it only costs a few dollars, but in the long-term it will eliminate those large repair bills that come with taking it to a mechanic.
If you go to get your oil changed and they offer to replace it for you, reject their offer. The can sometimes charge up to $50 when you can simply buy it at the store and replace it for a few dollars in a matter of minutes.
15. Use A Credit Card For Everything
If you have a high credit score, using a credit card can actually help you save some extra money – contrary to popular belief. As long as you’re disciplined and pay off your money on time, credit cards are a great source of cash back.
We suggest the Discover It Card. It comes with no annual fee and gives you 2% in cash back on all purchases your first year. Not only that, but you also get 5% in cash back on certain categories that rotate quarterly. Here’s a quick summary of what the card offers:
- No annual fee
- 2% cash back on all purchases your first year
- 5% cash back on certain categories that rotate quarterly
- Free FICO credit score on each statement
- Expedited card delivery service for lost or stolen cards
16. Cancel Subscriptions and Memberships You Don’t Use
The classic example of unused memberships is the gym membership taken out at the start of the year. People go for a few weeks and then gradually they let the membership run without using the gym. If you looking for a cheap at-home membership, try going with Daily Burn.
A lot of people are unaware of the memberships and subscriptions they actually hold, and that’s a serious problem because it means that they’re paying for things they’re not using.
Cancel any subscriptions and memberships you have no use for. Be hard on this. If you’re only attending the gym once a month you don’t need that membership.
17. Look For Sign-Up Bonuses That Give $10 Or More
We’ve put together a list of websites that give you a $10 or higher sign-up bonus when you register as a new member. Two of these services we’ve already mentioned on this list – Ibotta and TopCashback.
Keep in mind that although you do get a bonus, you usually can’t cash out right away. It’s usually below the minimum, or you have to complete some other task before you can claim it.
18. Wash Your Hands
You might be wondering why washing your hands can help graduates save money. It’s unlikely that you’re going to fall seriously ill when you’re young, but even trips to the doctor once or twice a year can cost hundreds of dollars. The best thing you can do is to preserve your health.
One part of this is washing your hands. Most minor ailments are transferred through your hands. After going to the bathroom, before handling food, and even when you return home you should wash your hands. You may even want to carry a hand sanitizer around with you for those little emergencies.
Don’t underestimate how quickly illness can strike and what it might cost you.
19. Bring in a Roommate
Rental costs will make up the largest part of your monthly outgoings. Anything you can do to bring these down will be of great help. Bringing in a roommate can cut your rental costs in half.
If you happen to live in a bigger apartment or a house, you can bring in more than one. In exchange for sharing your space with someone else you can pay a fraction of the original rental price.
20. Track Debt with an App
Apps like Mint can help you to keep track of your financial situation. Most graduates will start with five or six figures of student debt, and you definitely don’t want this to get any higher. Stay within your means to avoid problems.
Tracking your incomings and outgoings will enable you to make sure that you’re not overspending. This is remarkably easy to do, but those little reminders from an app can keep your spending under control.
21.Carpool Your Way Around the City
Carpooling is a great way to share the costs of getting around the city. Taking one or more passengers can easily cover your fuel costs. If you’re sharing a room with the people you carpool with, you might even want to conspire to split the costs of buying the car in the first place.
22. Buy a Bike
It’s difficult to get around by walking unless you live in a major city like New York. For many people, they’re only thirty to forty-five minutes from work by bicycle. Try to avoid getting a car unless you really need one. You can even buy foldable bikes for a little over $100 on Amazon – they ride well and aren’t too expensive.
Owning and operating a car is more expensive for graduates. As well as the usual fuel and maintenance costs, you have insurance to worry about. Young people are considered more of a risk on the roads, so insurers jack up the costs of insurance. Buying a bike will save you from these costs, and you’ll keep yourself fit and healthy at the same time.
23. Consolidate Your Student Loans
Student loans can be considerably large for recent graduates. The enormous figures might only constitute a fraction of your monthly outgoings, but they’re still a nuisance. Consider consolidating your student loans via a private company.
Debt consolidation will nearly always lead to you paying less per month. In some cases, it can lead to you paying more. Be sure you check with the consolidation company before committing to it.
24. Use Essential Oils for Cleaning and Sanitation
Essential oils are a lot cheaper than normal cleaning products, and you most likely already have some lying in your home. You may think that they’re only for health and beauty, but they have many uses. Not only that, but essential oils are generally considered to be better for the environment.
25. Stop Buying Brand Name Products
Many studies have revealed that brand name items are exactly the same as store brand items. It makes sense when you think about it. What’s the difference between branded milk and no brand milk? They both come from the same cow. You can’t create a premium cow.
Buying from big brands is not about buying a better product. You’re really just paying for the label. Graduates can save money through buying lesser known brands. You’re getting the same quality product without paying out a lot of money for it.
26. Sign Up for Free Customer Rewards
Most stores have promotions where you can earn free rewards. There are lots of different ways in which this happens. Some stores will have cash back on all your purchases, whereas others will simply let you earn points towards free perks over time.
Retail is extremely competitive, so you’ll be pressed to find a brand that doesn’t have some rewards system available. If there’s nothing heavily advertised, it’s always worth a shot asking them about it.
27. Move Your Bank Account Regularly
Banks live in an ultra-competitive environment. They have to constantly think of ways to get more customers, and some banks will even give you money just for opening an account with them. Moving your bank account to another bank can allow you to take advantage of welcome perks, as well as better interest rates.
Keep checking what introductory offers are available and if there’s something better move. Every once in a while Discover Bank will have $100 sign-up bonus for new members.
Sometimes it pays to call the bank over the phone and tell them you’re considering closing your account. Some people have received perks, and even free money, just for agreeing to stay with them, and there’s no reason why you can’t open an account with the other bank as well.
28. Take Online Surveys With PointClub
Not only do you get a $5 bonus when you sign-up as a new member with PointClub, but you can easily make anywhere from $7 – $15 per hour taking free online surveys.
The more you log-in daily with PointClub, the more you earn. Each time you log-in for 5 days in a row you get a 10% bonus on earnings with a maximum cap of 100%. Check their Facebook page for codes that get you free points. This is definitely one of the best survey sites around. Click here to read our full PointClub guide.
29. Stop Bowing to Impulse Buys with the 30-Day Rule
Even just one big purchase can completely ruin your finances for the month. It’s difficult to resist the temptation to buy that shiny new television or book that vacation. You don’t really need instant gratification, but you want it. One easy way to save money from impulse buys is to implement the 30-day rule.
The 30-day rule is a popular rule that states if you want to make a big purchase you have to wait at least 30 days before making a final decision. You’ll quickly discover that the impulse has passed and you don’t want to make that purchase any longer.
30. Invite People Over Instead of Going Out
Consider inviting people over instead of going out. You could cook dinner together, watch the game with a few beers, or have a good old-fashioned house party. There are many options open to you. You can even try signing-up for HelloFresh, a meal-based service that delivers food to your door. All you have to do is put it together and cook.
31. Get Free Meals Through Food Delivery Services
We put together a list of 10 food delivery programs that give you a bonus when you sign-up as a new member. This can greatly reduce the cost of your first meal, getting you anywhere from $5 – $10 off. While you still have to add on a delivery fee, it can be a great way to save a few dollars. These services typically partner with local restaurants and send orders to your door.
32. Opt for Video Games with Replay Value
Video games can be fun, but paying $70 every time you want to buy a new video game can really eat into your entertainment budget. That’s why you need to look into video games with lots of replay value. Purchase games that you can play online for months on end.
When you do get rid of video games, consider trading them in at stores like GameStop. The store credit can contribute towards your next purchase, or you can directly ask for cash.
33. Join the Barter Economy
Sites like About explain the barter economy in detail, and It’s becoming a major movement across the country. The idea behind it is instead of paying for goods and services, you trade for them. Think about what you can offer and market yourself as part of the barter economy.
There are no specific brands for this. It happens between friends, family, and neighbors. For example, if you know how to fix cards, you could get your neighbor to repair your roof in exchange for you fixing his car. No money ever changes hands. Over time, this can quite easily save hundreds of dollars.
34. Buy Refurbished Products On Efurb
Many people trying to save money will buy the cheapest blender, the cheapest washing machine, and the cheapest sofa. This might seem like a good idea for saving money in the short-term. When it comes to things like appliances, or anything that’s designed to last long-term, you need to be looking at quality not affordability.
That cheap washing machine is guaranteed to break in a few years. That quality washing machine you passed on will last for ten years, on the other hand, without a problem. If you’re still looking to get high-quality items at a good price, try buying refurbished on Efurb. They even give you a $10 bonus on sign-up.
Always think long-term when making the big purchases, and be willing to spend a little more now to save a lot more later on.
35. Get Motivated by Creating Savings Goals
Sometimes you might question why you’re saving all this money in the first place. For a lot of people, saving money just to save money isn’t motivation enough to make the necessary sacrifices. To counter this, you need to create a savings goal.
Think of something you truly want, and use that as your motivation to save money. A real goal will allow you to get motivated and will allow you to save in the long-term.
Your goal can be anything from saving up enough to buy a house or to go on vacation to an exotic destination. Write it down and refer back to it on a regular basis to stay motivated.
36. Meet With Yourself Every Month
Self-reflection is a powerful tool you can take advantage of. It’s something you must take advantage of to avoid making mistakes. Take some time every month to sit down and monitor your performance, especially when it comes to your budget.
Think about the mistakes you made and come up with a plan for how you can save even more next month. You should refer to your written budget when doing this.
37. Work More
For those who are young and have some spare time, try looking in your local area for some extra work. Craigslist is a great source for odd jobs. You may not have a family to care for, so you have a lot of spare time to spend. Use this extra time to work more.
Take more overtime hours and increase your monthly income. It’s a proven fact that those who work more have much less time to spend on pointless items.
38. Buy from Charity Or Thrift Stores
Charity stores are in the same category as flea markets. They’re run by charities and survive entirely from donations. From there, items donated in good condition are sold to the general public. This includes stores like Goodwill.
Often you can find almost new brand name items for a fraction of the price in charity stores. This is especially great when buying small items such as books and DVDs.
39. Don’t Go Crazy on Gifts
It’s always nice to make people feel appreciated, but that doesn’t mean you have to ruin your bank balance in order to do so. Consider making crafts to save money instead of purchasing. If you really want to save money, make purchases on AliExpress at a fraction of the price on Amazon.
40. Get Cash Back On Alcohol With bevRAGE
bevRAGE is a very particular receipt scanning app that pays you cash for uploading your receipt that has alcohol on it. Receive cash back for liquor, beer and wine purchased from convenience stores, restaurants and bars. It doesn’t matter where you purchase the item, just as long as it’s listed on your receipt.
Sometimes there are very generic deals. For example, you can get $3 in cash back off of any 24-pack of beer. Not only that, but you also get a $1 bonus when you use the promo code FRUGAL when scanning your first receipt.
41. Learn to Negotiate Your Rent
While it’s nice living in a decent part of town, you’re probably going to end up paying extra. Learn to negotiate your rent as well as other things in life. Even just asking for a little bit can help you save up a lot in the long-term. The worst they can do is say no.
42. Drink Wine From A Box
While it may sound strange, there’s a big difference in price between wine in a bottle and wine in a box. The wine is exactly the same, but just slightly less elegant. The average price between wine in a bottle and wine in a box from Amazon is about $7 every time. That’s a huge difference and one that shouldn’t be ignored.
There are plenty of ways to save as a recent graduate. Keep in mind that every item on this list isn’t necessarily for everyone, but hopefully you can find a few tricks or tips to help you out. If you have any other tips, feel free to leave them down below. Thanks for reading and happy frugaling!