College Series Part 2: How to Earn Extra Money as a Student

Following Part 1 (how to have the best academic experience in college), Part 2 is about how to get a little extra money as a student. College is notoriously known for that time where students are scraping by financially (and maybe mentally, too), and a lot of us have that image of the cup noodle student. Luckily, through the invention of the Internet, there are a handful of ways that college students can save and earn a little bit of extra money on the side. What you’ll find below are all the ways in which I’ve personally earned a couple of extra dollars to spend on food and whatever else I enjoy.

1 Save Money while Buying

Though this one seems a little counter intuitive, if you’re going to be grocery shopping or buying things online anyway, why not put a little more money back into your pocket?

a) Ibotta

Ibotta is a grocery shopping app, where you take pictures of your receipt and product bar codes after purchasing to get a certain amount of money back. Ibotta has certain stores within their app, and for each store, they have a select number of items and brands where you can get money back. For example, at my local Sprouts, if I buy a specific type of SO Delicious yogurt, then I can get 75 cents cash back. This is what the app looks like:

Things to be sure of for this app are (1) make sure you’re buying the right product (because sometimes they ask for a specific size of a product–easy to solve by scanning the bar code within the app to make sure it’s the right one) (2) make sure you’re aware of how many of each product you have to buy (most of the time you only have to buy one to get money back, but sometimes you have to buy multiple to get the deal).  This app is also a good one to have if (1) you don’t have a meal plan and/or (2) buy a lot of snacks or packaged food. I say that because Ibotta doesn’t have a lot of selection for fresh fruit or vegetables. You can cash out after you reach $20 on PayPal and Venmo, but you can also decide to cash out your money on gift cards (varying dollar amount).

Besides grocery stores, they also have stores like PetSmart, Barnes and Noble, Gamestop, Amazon, Poshmark (see below) for certain percentages off and/or through phone purchases. If you’re interested, download the app and use the referral code: ubrhhcb

b) Ebates

I love Ebates. And you will too if you love online shopping. Browsing through their site tells you what stores they have, but if you install the Ebates extension on your computer, it’ll tell you to activate a certain amount of cash back if they allow it for a certain store. For example, if I’m shopping on Sephora, it’ll automatically tell me to active 4% cash back. Each store on Ebates offers a unique % of cash back (e.g. Groupon 6%, Barnes and Noble 4%, etc.), and sometimes it varies–Ebates will sometimes have deals for double cash back, so that 4% from Sephora becomes 8%.
Ebates will pay you once about every 3 months, so sometimes you don’t see your cash back right away, but like I mentioned before, it all adds up. They’ll only cash out if you reach $5 or more for each payment period, but you can either request your money be sent to you over PayPal, or have a check sent to your house. If you’re interested, check it out here–and you can get a $10 cash bonus when you sign up.

c) Credit Cards

If your credit card has a cash back reward system, then use your credit card to buy things. Before, I used to prefer using cash, and while I still enjoy the benefits of using cash, the extra money from credit card purchases here and there really does add up. You usually need to reach a certain threshold (about $20-$25) to cash out, but that’s an extra meal or two, or a new t-shirt, or 5 Starbucks drinks, whatever you like to spend your money on. Plus, you get extra cash back on top of whatever else you’re using (Ibotta, Ebates, etc.) to get some extra money back.

d) UNiDAYS

UniDays is specifically for college students, and offers discounts on numerous stores like Urban Outfitters, ASOS, Levi’s, Under Armour, Dell, Samsung, Microsoft, the list goes on. They have stores listed under the topics of Fashion, Health and Fitness, Beauty, Lifestyle, Food, and Tech. Each store through UniDays offers a unique discount–my boyfriend purchased something on Samsung that was on sale, and was able to apply the UniDays 20% off discount, so his overall total was a lot less than the original price. Win! In order to join, you have to find your institution and log onto your university portal in order for UniDays to verify that you’re actually a college student. If you’re interested in UniDays, you can find them here.

2 Reselling

Reselling things can be a great way to earn a little extra money. Though you may not be able to make back the entire amount you paid for something, if you’re not finding a use for the things you have, why not try to pass them on to someone who would use them?

a) Poshmark

Mostly for the women here (because Poshmark mostly features women’s cothing), but Poshmark is a clothing and accessory resale app, which is pretty self explanatory. You can post a picture of the items you don’t need anymore, set your own price, and share your item so more people see it. On Poshmark, users can also submit “offers” for a lower dollar amount on your item, so it’s up to you how you want to price it and what you want to accept. One of the downsides of Poshmark is that, depending on what types of items you’re selling, it may take a long time to sell them. So, whenever I post something on Poshmark, I don’t have the expectation of selling quickly, but I post with the hope that eventually someone will have a need or want for one of my items. If you’re interested in downloading the app, use my referral code to get $5 Poshmark credit towards a purchase: corujinha (little owl, in Portuguese).

Another side note: If you like shopping for expensive things but want it at a cheaper price, browse for things on Poshmark! It’s a great way to get things for a discount, and though it’s not as cheap as a thrift store, it’s a lot easier to find the brands you like.

b) Amazon Marketplace

Amazon is a great place to buy things, and because people are buying, people are also selling. I love using Amazon to sell textbooks that I don’t need anymore. I recommended this to a friend of mine who wanted to get rid of her textbook, and it worked out really well for her!

This is great for college students because if you’re taking a class that doesn’t really apply to your main area of study or if you’re taking a class that you don’t enjoy and think, “I don’t want to keep this super expensive textbook,” you can resell it on Amazon. The great thing is that textbooks usually sell really quickly if they’re reasonably priced (e.g. don’t price a $100 textbook for $1,000), especially around the beginning of a semester. The one tip I would have is to not wait too long to post your listing on Amazon; book publishers are always coming out with new editions, so you want to make sure you sell your book before professors start asking for a newer edition.

If you’ll still be taking courses after you sell your books, I always use the money I earned from my previous textbooks toward my new textbooks.

c) “Free & For Sale”

I’m not sure if every location has a “Free & for sale” group, but when I began college, I joined this group on Facebook that every college student seemed to be a part of. Students were posting things from textbooks, to furniture, to clothes, to really miscellaneous items, and usually these items are sold for cheap because people want to get rid of them. It’s a great place not only to sell, but a great place to buy if you’re looking for furniture you’ll only be using for a year or two, or textbooks for classes.

If you’re interested, run a Facebook search on “Free and for sale [college or city name here].” Interestingly enough, when I was in Brazil, the people of the city where I was staying had a Facebook page JUST like it, so I know that it’s not just an American concept!

3 Academic

Lastly, a certainly more ‘academic’ way to make money on a college campus.

a) Research Studies

Professors and graduate students are always doing research. And to do research, depending on the field that they’re in, require participants. When I was doing my undergrad (which was at a research university), I would see bulletin boards inside buildings filled with calls for participants with qualities X, Y, and Z, and usually offering some kind of monetary reward (cash, gift cards, etc). The only downside to these types of research studies are that many of them ask for a specific type of person, and you can’t participate in all of them–some ask for smokers between a certain age and some ask for people who speak a certain language. These types of restrictions on participants make it hard to be a participant for every study, but if you find a research study that you feel you would be a good participant for, contact the researcher. Trust me, they would be happy to have you.

b) Be Creative & Find your Strengths

Last, but certainly not least, be creative and find out what you’re really awesome at. When I was doing my undergrad (and still do from time to time), I would proofread and edit other college students’ papers and would tutor nonnative English speakers for a certain amount of money. I would make sure not to make the price too high because most college students are on a budget, and most were happy to pay me to give them feedback. I did this because I enjoy reading academic papers and interacting with other college students one-on-one, but not only did I enjoy that aspect, but I have a strong background in writing. Everyone has their own strengths, so if you’re good at math or science, if you’re fluent in a certain language, you can offer tutoring lessons. Some subjects are more actively sought out for than others, so if it helps, you could always post about your services on your college Free & For Sale group or a general Facebook college group.

Literally me, proofreading my college roommate’s cover letter, in an airport in Japan

*This post is not sponsored and is 100% my own thoughts. However, by inserting my referral code for these sites, I (and you) receive some kind of benefit within the apps. These are all apps and methods I have been using for years and have been incredibly effective in adding an extra meal to my month or to add to my savings account. 

 

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