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The Ultimate “What Not to Do” List for College Students

There’s a book called, How to be a good college roommate: A 64-page, step-by-step guide to surviving college without ruining your life.”

Honestly, it’s the best piece of advice for a college student we’ve seen. Because on all 64 pages it says the same thing – “DON’T BE AN ASSH*LE!”

We like to think this can be applied to all areas of life regardless if you’re a college student or not. But this book inspired us to create the ultimate “What Not To Do” list for being a good college student. From saving a S@!T ton of money to being able to get good grades and still have a social life, this is a list of things you’ll want to save on every device – because we have a feeling you’re going to reference it more than once.

The Basics

1. Don’t spend money $$ you don’t have on a credit card. Pay your credit cards in full & on time. Most college students see “minimum balance due” and only pay that. This is the QUICKEST way to get into credit card debt and irritate your parents (sometimes it’s their $$!).

2. Don’t buy everything on those dorm must-have lists. WHY? Because not everything will fit. Some things can wait until you see your room in-person and you should see what your roommate has too. 

3. Don’t pay for shipping – some big box stores offer free shipping. See the list of stores here. 

4. Don’t forget your payment due dates on any credit cards and automatic payments from your account! Late fees add up. Sign up for automatic debit payments, make sure you have enough money in your account, set up multiple alerts on your phone, write them in a calendar, AND PICK ONE DAY A WEEK to review your bills. Sundays? The 1st & 15th?

5. PRO TIP – Pay your bills before the due date to allow time for $ to transfer (just in case)

6. Don’t pay fees to have a checking account. A LOT of college students fall for this trap when they open their first account. Check nearby and find a bank w/student discounts and ZERO ATM fees

7. Don’t let ATM withdrawal fees add up. The ATM machine by the bar will charge you MORE if it’s not your bank. Check out your local campus area in advance and consider an online bank (no fees and generally pay higher interest rates – FYI, no face-to-face banker)

8. Don’t oversleep!! Missing class will result in loss of valuable info

9. Don’t Uber or Lyft everywhere 🚘 (save that for late nites). Use public transportation & student discounts 🚌🚆🚲

10. Don’t think that everyone takes Venmo, cash app, or mobile pay. Learn how to write a check!

11. Don’t skip breakfast. 🥯Gives you energy and keeps you full so you’re not overeating and feeling sluggish. BONUS TIP – Keep yogurt & fruit in your mini-fridge, make scrambled eggs in your microwave.

12. Don’t skip orientation for freshman year. And when you do go, make sure you pay attention! 

13. Don’t wait too long to ask for help in a class. Your professors and grad students for the class have office hours. Introduce yourselves and establish a good relationship. Trust me, they want you to pass.

14. Don’t ignore your school library (Find out where it is in your first week on campus).

15. Libraries are not just for checking out books. You can:

  • Find awesome resources and reference materials 
  • Spend quiet, long hours for late nite studying, 
  • Rent rooms for study groups 
  • Have food delivered (Uber eats, Postmates – check w/ librarian first)
  • Rent laptops if yours crashes

16. Don’t stick to only what you like/know: Expand your horizons, there are lots of free on-campus activities like plays, concerts, movies, and groups to join. 

17. MOST IMPORTANTLY …Don’t be an assh*le to your roommate

Don’t Buy List

The “broke college student” stereotype is a real thing. From buying all those textbooks to paying rent to having beer money, being a college student isn’t cheap. Here’s a list on how to actually save money on the things most students are overpaying for.

What Not to Overspend On🤑

1. Do not stand in line for coffee/tea. Mom and Dad aren’t paying for Starbucks anymore – 🥤$3.75 for a latte 5 days a week adds up. Like over $100/mo!!

2. Don’t pay full price…for like anything. Check Groupon before heading to a restaurant or check coupons in the campus paper. 

3. Use Rakuten (formerly Ebates) for cashback when you shop online at your favorite stores. 

4. Don’t pay for cable! There are free movies on YouTube or share a family Netflix, Prime, or Hulu account. Even go with Sling TV, it’s much cheaper than cable.

5. Don’t go crazy ordering food outside of your meal plan

6. Don’t forget about FREEBIES! Join loyalty programs for restaurants, haircuts, manicures, airlines️, & work your way towards rewards – Just like Starbucks rewards where you can earn a free drink!

7. Don’t spend money on a CrossFit gym or fitness classes off-campus if you can’t afford it. The student rec center has the latest equipment and probably offers group classes. 


1. Don’t pay for all books – join your local public library for free and get free access to download magazines, and audiobooks – download the amazing app, “Libby” for library audiobooks

2. Don’t let late fees rack up! Return books on time – set reminders in your phone the second you check one out just in case you miss an email notification

3. Don’t pay outright for all your books – check sites like Project Gutenberg that has over 55,000 free ebooks

4. Save up to 90% on textbooks on the site Chegg – you can buy or rent! 

5. Don’t forget about Amazon and eBay! – Sometimes they have the cheapest prices on the textbooks you need. 

6. Search the book’s ISBN number on sites like to compare prices. 

Enjoy this list? Share it with any friend who needs to see it too!

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