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7 Great Ways for Students to Budget and Save

Updated: Feb 21

Welcome to Nelson Notes LLC, where our primary focus is empowering and equipping students with essential academic, professional, and life skills.  When we coach students, we actively seek out their insights regarding the specifics skills and problem-solving techniques they feel are most crucial. Through this collaborative approach, w'eve observed that when students make informed decisions about the skills they wish to acquire for personal growth, they become confident decision makers.

Recently, several of our students have chosen financial literacy and digital skills as coaching topics they'd like to explore. Learning tools like Google Sheets or Excel for financial tracking not only cultivates valuable digital proficiency skills, but also provides students great strategies to budget and save. 

Explore with us! Check out these 7 ways for students to budget and save!

Infographic with 7 Great Ways Students Can Save Money: Creating a budget, Investing in CDs, Paying off Debt, Using Student Discounts, Needs vs. Wants, Automate savings,
7 Great Ways Students Can Save Money

Step-by-Step: Building Financial Literacy

1. Creating a Realistic Budget

There is nothing like creating a budget to help students evaluate the value of a dollar. Understanding both earnings and spending habits helps students understand how expensive life can be. When students calculate how much it costs them to afford rent, food, and other basic expenses in this helps students become more aware of what parents and others contribute toward living expenses.

Colorful Student Monthly Budget Worksheet with focus on student savings
Free Student Budget Worksheet

Click below for this FREE Student Monthly Budget worksheet.

Student Monthly Budget Budget Focus - Savings (2)
Download PDF • 5.38MB

2. The World of Certificates of Deposit (CDs)

Introduce students to the concept of investment to build practical skills for budgeting, saving, and investing. Certificates of Deposit (CDs) offer a low-risk entry point for understanding how money can grow over time.  Helping students research CD’s in their local bank or credit union helps students to:

  • Learn about legitimate savings vehicles (CD's).

  • Gain insight into the world of finance.

  • Learn about interest and savings rates.

  • Understand investment terms.

  • Develop long-term financial planning.

3. Responsible Debt Management

Often students do not understand loan terms, interest rates, or even that they have options for choosing student loans that may work in their favor. When students learn how to responsibly research loans and loan terms, how to develop debt management skills, this leads to developing a roadmap for navigating their financial obligations.

Responsibly managing debt includes:

  • Minimize debt by curbing spending (see "Wants vs. Needs" handout below).

  • Explore the impact of debt on both short and long term financial health.

  • Understand effective strategies for paying off loans.

  • Choose favorable interest rates or minimize interest payments by researching and shopping for the best interest rates.

Beyond immediate practicality, teaching responsible debt management instills a sense of financial resilience. Students gain the ability to assess and manage financial challenges, setting the stage for a more secure financial future.

4. Navigating Student Discounts

When students cultivate a mindset which involves actively researching ways to find discounts, this helps students reduce impulse buying.  In today’s digital world, navigating discounts may involve finding legitimate discounts as well as researching tools and apps to make these discounts meaningful.  Legitimate student discounts are available through financial institutions, academic institutions, apps, discount stores, and even emails. 


It is worth noting (particularly for emails or solicitations of any kind) that if a student discount seems too good to be true, it probably is.  Educating students about SCAMS (including phishing, spoofing, illegitimate job offers and deceptive links), will help students understand the value of legitimate discounts, and develop much needed skills to protect their financial identity. 


5. Harnessing Cash Back and Rewards Programs

Transforming everyday purchases into savings through cash back and rewards programs is a nuanced skill that students can develop after doing appropriate research. Cash back programs are available through credit cards, debit cards, and third party vendors who track expenses. 

Understanding cash back programs goes beyond the immediate gain of cash back; it instills a responsible financial mindset. Students grasp the concept of maximizing benefits and consider the long-term implications of their spending choices.

6. Great Ways to Help Students Build Vision for Budgeting and Savings: Understanding the Difference Between Needs and Wants

Students can cultivate a robust understanding of the difference between needs and wants through thoughtful discussions and activities. This helps students evaluate the necessity of expenses, prioritize essential needs, and curb impulsive spending on non-essential items.

The ability to distinguish between needs and wants is a foundational life skill that helps students cultivate BOTH academic and life skills to build a better future. When students thoughtfully consider the differences between needs and wants, they can then effectively evaluate and resist some of the very tempting (and often fun) options for spending their money - like eating out regularly, buying expensive subscription services, impulse shopping, etc.

Academic and Life Coaching: Student Budgets - Wants vs. Needs
Financial Coaching: Needs vs. Wants

7. Understanding Penalties and Automating Savings

Understanding the benefits of automating savings and penalties is a lesson in financial foresight. Financial institutions are well equipped to provide students not just the ability to transfer funds, but also the tools and steps necessary to manage funds electronically. 

Understanding how automating payments work AND information about financial penalties is helpful. This awareness comes with a warning: students need to maintain sufficient funds in their accounts to avoid any financial penalties their bank or financial institution may issue.  


Emphasize security!

Make sure students pay close attention to any security features offered through any given financial institution and don’t share passwords, pins, or other secure information with anyone else. 


Helping Students with Academics & Life Skills!

We help students with academic skills AND life skills. If student are struggling academically, we have great tutors with experience in the subject or subjects your student needs most. We have found that sometimes academic struggles accompany other issues like loss of confidence, anxiety, time management, and poor study skills. We can help.

Contact us! if you would like to sign up for coaching! We include resources for our sessions that both students and parents can continue to utilize in building academic, professional, and strategic life skills.


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