My little sister, Colby, has moved to Los Angeles for college! I'm so excited that she's closer to us – now two and a half hours away instead of the far-off four and a half hour trek where she last lived in Santa Barbara. She's making her way on down the coast, and I have my fingers crossed that she'll end up here in San Diego at some point down the line.

Yesterday I went up to check out her new digs. Having lived in LA for six years, I wasn't expecting much. Apartments up there are pricey, to say the least. Her space is a bit cramped, but I was pleasantly surprised. She's in the quaintest little four-plex I've ever seen in a really great neighborhood.

saving money in college

Isn't this place adorable? And they're (obviously) able to paint whatever the heck they want on the walls since they have an awesome manager who is also a contractor and has no problem re-painting it when they leave. Colby always finds the best deals.

Here are some other ways I've seen her saving money in college:

  • Coffee. Starbucks has become a driving life force for many college students, but you don't necessarily have to spend $5 a pop on fancy custom drinks. The way Colby orders her coffee is practically an art form: 4 shots of espresso over ice in a tall cup, which she then fills up with milk and sugar. I believe I've actually heard this referred to as a “ghetto latte,” but I totally support her ghettoness. The way she orders it, the drink comes in at a little over $2 as opposed to $4 for the fancified version. Plus, that thing packs a caffeine wallop to get her through the toughest of midterms (and keep her going through whatever party may be going on afterwards).
  • Textbooks. Buy used or, better yet, rent them (trust me, you'll never read those things again). lets college students save 40-90% off of bookstore prices with free shipping both ways AND you can still highlight in the textbook all you want. Plus, they donate to Operation Smile to do a little good with each book rented.
  • Don't buy a car. In most college towns, you can get away with riding the bus or simply walking to class. I had a car in college and while I was glad to be able to escape back home easily on the weekends, the debt I racked up from parking tickets alone was astronomical. The train is a better option for those weekend trips back home and will ultimately save money. Plus, the cost of insuring anyone under the age of 25 is a pretty big hindrance in itself.
  • Food. Those meal plans on campus are often astronomically priced. Do some research to see if it's really worth it. If not, consider shopping off-campus and pack your lunches. Colby saves a ton by asking to tag along to Costco with me on my membership and splitting bulk items with friends.
  • Entertainment. Take advantage of free screenings for students and on-campus performances.
  • Maximize space. Colby and her roommate talked their landlord into building a bunk for their beds, and it made their tiny space seem a lot more roomy. Invest in some space-saving solutions to maximize the money you spend on rent.

How did you save money in college? Any favorite tips?

This post is sponsored by Campus Book Rentals. All opinions are my own.