7 Smart Money Tips When You're on a Ramen Budget

The journey to a college degree isn’t easy, but you can make sure that you aren’t drowning in debt at the end of it. Here are a few ways to smooth out the path ahead of you.

Welcome to the college hustle, where you’re navigating the labyrinth of lectures, exams, and - let’s be real - a budget that’s got you snatched…and not in a good way. Getting that degree might take sleepless nights and caffeine highs (ooooh, that sounds like a song title - break out the guitar!), but you don’t have to get into a mountain of debt for it. We’ve got your back with this ultimate guide of how to save money fast while rocking that ramen-centric lifestyle.


Paying your bills on time is Adulting 101, but it’s incredibly easy to succumb to the siren call of a new game release or wardrobe refresh. Keep your spending in check and your bills paid to avoid getting bit in the…leg later with late fees. Automate your bills as much as possible, so you always hit the due date and your financial record remains spotless.


I realize I literally just said that bills are the priority, and I stand by that because the whole reason why budgeting is important is that it keeps you from getting kicked to the curb. However, YOU are so incredibly important, and investing in yourself has to be a priority as well. Treat savings like another bill, and deposit monthly or each time you get paid to start building up an emergency fund, down payment for a car or a home, vacation, or, you know, paying off student loans.


Grocery shopping on an empty stomach is like welcoming a vampire into your home - chaotic, unhinged, and a sure way to get sucked dry. Things you don’t even normally enjoy eating start looking like Michelin-star meals when you’re hungry, and that’s how you end up with an aisle’s worth of snacks. Have a snack, maybe some ramen, before shopping to avoid adopting a family-sized bag as a new roommate. We even prepared a cheap, easy recipe for this very moment.

Recipe Tips: 

  1. Sauté garlic + onion with 1 teaspoon of sesame oil.
  2. Keep the red pepper flakes from your pizza delivery.
  3. Add protein: Coat tofu or chicken with the ramen flavor packet + cook until done.


Speaking of roommates, get some. Sharing your space means sharing household bills like rent, utilities, and groceries, and that can go a long way to helping you save up for life post-grad and enjoy college life. Find your sitcom squad like the cast of New Girl, and keep in mind that the secret to dodging roommate drama is strong, open communication.


Your student ID is a golden ticket for how to save money as a student. Scout the stores doling out discounts for scholars like yourself, and take that ID with you everywhere. Even if a store doesn’t have a flashing neon sign announcing a student discount, it never hurts to ask. Pride is stupid when there’s free money to be had. Think of it as pre-paying the interest on your student loans.


Stick to the essentials when using student loan money - tuition, books, shelter and sustenance. Excessive student loan borrowing is like building a sand castle - it might look great right now, but a tidal wave of regret will hit once it’s time to repay them with interest.


These money saving tips aren’t about ruining the college vibe; they’re about curbing a cash crisis, so you can actually enjoy some pretty amazing years of personal growth. Don’t be afraid to splurge OCCASIONALLY on something that brings you out of that head-buried-in-textbook mode. As long as bills are paid and you’re being consistent with your savings goals, enjoy the occasional artisanal pizza or night out.

Identifying clever ways to save money is a skill that many people don’t learn until later in life. Figuring out how to save money as a teenager is sometimes a hard concept to wrap your head around, but it’s really just about figuring out where to start, staying consistent, and growing as you go.

Make money moves with a Journey Account today. New memberships may receive up to $50 + free financial education resources.

February 25, 2021

Published by SunWest Credit Union

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