The Life of a Broke College Student: Tips and Tricks

Published by on Dec 17, 2019, 10:13 am

College life can get really tough, especially when you’re on a budget. Things start to become more expensive the second you receive that title of ‘independence’ when entering college. What are some things you can do to still live a bougie life while being on a strict financial budget?  We’ll give you some tips and tricks right here on how to live your new college life without any problems!


Having trouble figuring out how to go places? Don’t have your own car to travel places, even if it’s close by? There are ways to get around in Malaysia, and some of the options are cheaper than you think. 

Firstly, using the train systems in Malaysia is very affordable and is probably the most common option for the student population. The rail transport consists of the commuter rail, the light rapid transit (LRT), mass rapid transit (MRT), monorails, and an airport rail link. 

With the vast amount of rail lines in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, these options can take you around the city for an affordable price and help you reach numerous destinations without any trouble. Rapid KL also offers students concession pass for those who take this type of transportation. This is definitely helpful for the students on a budget as the pass cuts down the transportation fee by half the original cost. You can apply for this pass via Rapid KL or your local university at their student services centre. Do click here to apply! However, the downside of it all would be the duration of the transportation and the numerous transfers you’ll have to do if you choose to take the railway system. 

Another option if you want to get places quicker or if you’re with a group of friends is to travel via GrabCar. People often take GrabCars to nearby places or to avoid the ‘no-parking’ issue, a common theme seen if you go to places that are heavily dense with people.

GrabCars can also be fairly cheap when you travel around with your group of friends. The fees usually cost around RM20-30 per ride (depending on your destination); however, if you split the bill among 5 people, you’ll be paying only RM4-6! Also, the more you travel around with Grab, you’ll be able to collect points that you can then use to redeem coupons on future Grab rides. 


Food can come in all variations and costs; it just depends on how you choose to eat and spend. Many students tend to lean on cheaper food options to save up for other necessities. The most common option is to eat fast food because it is the cheapest option available. However, eating fast food every day, as most should know, can lead to many health problems, so try not to rely on them too much. Other options for cheap food include: mamak stalls, kopitiam shops, and nasi kandar. So, try switching up your menu with the options listed above! You will be able to taste all kinds of dishes by eating at places like so. 

Sometimes eating out can be a hassle. So, why not eat in and cook your own dishes? There are multiple grocery stores or wet/dry markets in Malaysia where you can buy your own products and cook a meal of your own. Many students buy their groceries in supermarkets like Giant, Mydin, Tesco or Aeon. These supermarkets can be helpful and wallet-friendly for students as there tend to be many promotions and discounts on the produce. So next time you plan on cooking for yourself and doing a week-long meal prep, instead of eating out, do shop at these supermarkets for good prices and discounts. 


Shopping for new clothes in retail stores can be too expensive, and you tend to think multiple times before deciding that you don’t want to spread money on a new sweater or a pair of jeans. Instead of having those moments of doubt and being indecisive with what you want, how about visiting a local thrift store for good clothing at affordable prices? There are multiple thrift stores around the KL and Selangor area, and some of them are absolute gems when it comes to certain pieces. 

Such thrift stores include; OkGo, 2nd Street, Wonder Bundle, Modo Japan Preloved, Refash, Klumby, and Jalan Jalan Japan. 

Do check these stores out because they do have good quality clothes for cheap prices and sometimes, you can get lucky and find designer clothes that have been given away… so don’t pass up on such an opportunity!

If you still choose to shop at retail clothing stores, know that you have the privilege to flash your student ID for special rates and certain promotions. Stores such as Forever 21, Cotton On, Topshop, Topman and Factorie provide students with a 10-20% discount, which becomes a steal especially when you get to buy a nice-looking outfit to strut the next time you go to campus. Also, online stores like Zalora can give you a sale up to 80% when shopping apparels so do keep that in mind the next time you go shopping!


PDFs can go a long way for students. Many assignments that you write require prior readings outside your unit’s syllabus. In order to find such articles, do use Google Scholar! Google Scholar is a must-have for students and can be a lifesaver because they provide articles that support your claims and evidence, but also backs up your hypotheses. Use PDFs and articles to good use, as they will come in-handy for your academic career.  

Second-hand books are seen as a blessing for college students of all ages and fields. Textbooks can be very expensive, and students often choose not to buy them even if it is necessary just because of how much they cost. Instead of buying new textbooks in your local college bookstore, try finding students who have taken the course in the past and ask whether they are planning to sell their textbooks. Many students do this because it is an easy way to earn cash and they usually don’t have any other plans with the book after the unit has been done. So, ask around if anyone is planning to sell their textbooks because in the end, the cost of a second-hand textbook is cheaper than buying a new one straight off of the shelf. 


Part-time jobs have helped many students sustain their academic and social lifestyles in college. A large number of students typically do it in order to pay off their tuition fees and dormitory amenities. Many students use these part-time jobs to earn money to save for future trips, shopping plans and advancements in academic careers. Common places to apply for part-time jobs include Food and Beverages (F&Bs) and apparel stores. 

These part-time jobs can not only give you an acceptable pay but can also give you a good working experience title for your resume for future job applications. So, if you have the time and you’re able to time-manage and are looking for a job for extra cash, do apply for part-time jobs in your area. 

Experiments and Volunteering. Many universities have this option for students to get cash quickly. Being part of an experiment conducted for the research of Master’s or PhD students is one way to gain money on the spot. There are a lot of psychological experiments being tested in universities and this means that human subjects are needed. The experiments would depend on the research thesis of the individual and they can range from taking and filling up surveys to testing the boundaries of sleep for the individual. 

Of course, the experiments conducted are not going to harm you anyway or that would be considered inhumane and unethical; however, there are certain steps and procedures that must be followed in order to get that money. Do look around for such opportunities as not only do you get to receive money easily, but you also get to be a part of a research thesis and understand certain experiments that can be fairly intriguing. 

At the end of the day, with the use of these trips and tricks, you won’t be the broke college student you thought you would become once you enter college. No more of thinking whether if you shouldn’t eat for a couple days because of the small amount of money left in your bank account. Let’s help you save up and make some cash for that dream trip around the world you’ve been thinking of or that music festival that you’ve always wanted to go to. It’s time a for change!

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