How to keep more money in your pocket as an incoming freshman

In 2018 Welcome Titans Guide, Opinion
Student carries books on money
(Kayla Alcaraz / Daily Titan)

There are two things that are certain about college: One, it’s not going to be easy and two, it certainly isn’t going to be cheap.

Stress will undoubtedly follow you through your years at Cal State Fullerton. The pressure of keeping up with assignments, grades, work, a social life and money will at some point make you question why you’re in college at all.

Unfortunately there isn’t a magical wand to wave over all your university woes, but here are some helpful tips and tricks that will make money one less thing to worry about.


If you live on campus, you have a meal plan at the Gastronome and don’t have to worry about spending money on food every day. If you aren’t living on campus, meals are something you want to factor into your budget.

For commuters who spend most of their days on campus, it’s all too easy to run into the Titan Student Union and eat in the food court the moment hunger strikes. That may sound like a good idea when your stomach is making demands, but depending on how many days a week you’re on campus, it may become another expense you just can’t afford.

One alternative option is to prepare food at home and bring it to school. If needed, there are microwaves located in the food court at the TSU and at the Titan Shops as well. Although it may be a hassle to make food beforehand, in the long run your bank account will thank you.

The second option is to purchase a meal plan at the Gastronome, located at campus housing. Meal plans are available to all students, even to those who don’t live on campus housing.

While meal plans range from $328 to $1,829, they will last for an entire semester or academic year, making food one less thing to worry about. Depending on how many days you’ll be at school and how often you plan to eat throughout the day, the Gastronome’s voluntary meal plans, provided on its website, may be the best option for you.


There are many different ways to save money when it comes to textbooks, but the best way to avoid wasting an unnecessary sum of money is to wait until after the first day of class to purchase the assigned books.

During the first week, the professor will go over the syllabus and inform the class on what textbooks you’ll actually need. There may be textbooks on their syllabus that you won’t use at all. You don’t want to make the mistake of buying a $100 book only to find out your professor decided it wasn’t necessary.

The only exception to this rule is when a professor sends out an email before classes have started and specifies what textbooks you’ll need. In that case, it’s best to buy them as soon as possible.

Keep in mind that Titan Shops offers a buyback option at the end of each semester. But if you are looking to get most of your money back, it probably won’t happen as Titan Shops only offers up to 50 percent of a books purchase price.

Research, outside of the kind you’ll be doing in class, will also benefit you in the long run. Looking online and comparing prices beforehand can make all the difference.

It may seem easier to just purchase new books, but there could be a used, online or rental option that you can get either at Titan Shops or in more convenient places. Good, off-campus places to look are Amazon, Little Professor Textbooks (which is located near campus) and the CSUF BOOK BUY & SELL HUB Facebook page.


Learning how to budget your money can be a big relief once the semester starts. It can help you keep track of bills and what you need to buy for the month. There are many budgeting apps that can be downloaded onto your phone that will help with this.

One example is a mobile app called Mint. You can link bank accounts, keep track of when those bills are due and create monthly budgets. This is very useful for college students to estimate how much money they’ll need for a particular month and to help plan their work hours accordingly.

By trying these things for yourself, you’ll find that following these small tips will make you want to cry a whole lot less each time you check your bank account this semester.

If you liked this story, sign up for our weekly newsletter with our top stories of the week.

You may also read!

Exterior shot of the CSUF emblem

Cal State Universities work to improve sustainability efforts

Sustainability is becoming more important to all Cal State Universities as each university has agreed to comply with specific


Where CSUF’s water comes from and how it’s maintained

Cal State Fullerton’s water supply comes from the city of Fullerton, which gets its water from the Metropolitan Water


Cal State Fullerton’s commuter culture negatively impacts air quality on campus

Commuter behavior poses a threat to Cal State Fullerton’s ability to meet air quality pollution standards set by the