5 Ways to Save the NAU Way

How to save money as a college student with 5 simple tips

Northern Arizona University
5 min readMar 16, 2022


By: Megan Ruangchamneil, Class of 2022

Your favorite broke college student is here again with some amazing advice, and even if I’m not your favorite… I’m about to be. Saving money as a college student can be difficult, especially here in Flagstaff where there are so many fun things to do and great places to eat.

However, the reality is that we are big kids now and have big-kid bills to pay, so it can be difficult to save.

Lucky for you, I’m here to tell you all the tips and tricks you need to know to save an extra buck or two! 💵

gloved hands holding gold coins
Louie the Lumberjack holding gold coins

Tip #1: Thrifting

Thrifting your clothes in college is the cool new thing to do and you can trust me because my mom tells me all the time that I am cool. 😎 Jokes aside, thrifting has been a lifesaver for me. I love shopping for clothes and coming up with cute outfits, but I hate the price tag that comes with it. With thrifting, I can have both a beautiful wardrobe and a happy bank account.

For clothing, I love shopping at Savers, Goodwill, and Fashion Exchange Runway because they have the best deals, and lots to choose from. If you’re looking for a smaller store and want to support local Flagstaff shops, check out Thrift for Goodness Sake, Hodgepodge Thrift Store, Cedar Closet Thrift Store, Incahoots Vintage Clothing, or Sharon’s Attic Thrift Store.

Thrifting Insider Tips

Every Monday at Savers, all items are 50% off if you’re a rewards member, and they’ll occasionally email you coupons if you sign up. If you donate, they’ll also give you coupons for donating.

At Goodwill, if you flash your student ID at the front they offer you an additional discount. If you sign up for their emails, you’ll receive 20% off coupons monthly, and every day they have certain color tags that are 50% off.

Fashion Exchange Runway is great because they not only sell used clothing, but they buy it too! They’ll give you cash, in-store credit, or exchange your old items for new ones.

I thrift about once or twice a month, and I try to go on deal days or during the week so it’s not busy.

Photo by Becca McHaffie on Unsplash

Tip #2: Take Advantage of University Perks

NAU offers a ton of great resources for students who are in need of them, and Louie’s Cupboard is a great example.

Louie’s Cupboard is a food pantry for students who struggle with food insecurity. If you’re reading this, you might be worried about money or stressed about paying rent and bills which means this service is for you too.

donation box for Louie’s Cupboard filled with dried goods

They don’t just offer food, they offer necessities like toiletries, feminine products and so much more. They offer more services for clothing and meal swipes as well. Check out more at the following website:

Tip #3: Find Good Deals

I’m sure if you live on or anywhere near NAU campus, you have those coupon books piling up on your kitchen counter. Well, I’m here to tell you to use those things! If you’re cool and have lots of friends… like uhh…myself, then you all probably go out on the town from time to time and spend money dining at a restaurant or doing fun activities.

Speaking of deals, NAU’s Property Surplus has a TON of random items for sale at insane prices that you would never guess a college campus would sell. They have furniture, electronics, and even cars for sale at extremely discounted rates.

Check them out here:

If you find yourself shopping at certain places frequently, sign up for their rewards program! “But Megan.. I get so many emails.” Okay? You actually check those? Getting too many emails is not a good reason to not save money.

Pro tip: Set up an email account specifically for deals!

Tip #4: Create a Budget 💵

Okay, I’m not trying to get all Dave Ramsey on you, but if you find yourself struggling to save money because you’re always spending it, this is the tip for you. I’m not saying not to spend money on fun things, but be strategic about it.

Photo by NORTHFOLK on Unsplash

Start a budgeting journal! Write out all the things you need to spend for the month like rent, gas, groceries, savings etc., as well as fun things like shopping, going out to eat, games, and concerts. Now, take your monthly income and delegate a certain amount of money for that month to each category.

If that’s too much work for you like it is for me, then you can download a budgeting app. There are plenty of free ones out there.

Sometimes it can even help to pull out your monthly budget in cash, because it’s harder to spend your money when you physically see it going away.

Tip #5: Be Mindful

Like I said, it’s okay to treat yourself every once in a while, but avoid spending your money like it’s unlimited.

Ask yourself what will truly serve you well in the moment. If I really want something, I usually sit on it and wait, and if I still want it after that time being, I will get it.

Only buy things that will truly enrich your life and make it better… along with food and rent and things that keep you living and breathing.

Thanks for reading, I hope these tips helped! Now go off and be the budgeting guru that you want to be!



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