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Below I have come up with four easy ways to save money in college that I think are completely do-able and realistic for anyone in college. I truly think that if you are at least mindful about the money you’re spending, you’ll be better off and at least not “surprised” as to where all your finances went.

There’s no doubt that college is extremely expensive. Besides paying tuition, you also have to keep in mind the dozens of other expenses that add up fast, like room and board, meal plans, textbooks, etc. However, college can also be a great time to start getting ahead on your finances and working to save money for your future.

If you’re looking for ways to make money in college, I have a great blog post all about it which you can read by clicking here. Let’s vow to be intentional spenders and smart savers when it comes to money and getting through college!

5 Easy Ways to Save Money in College

1. Rent Your Textbooks

Textbooks are one of the most expensive things you have to deal with in college. Unfortunately, you cannot avoid having to get textbooks for some classes as some professors teach strictly from the book. However, I would recommend asking other people who have taken the class before you if the book is necessary for the class. Or, check www.ratemyprofessors.com and read other student reviews to see if the professor uses the textbook for the class.

If you absolutely must get the textbook, always RENT instead of buy! College bookstores allow you to rent textbooks for the term instead of buying the book. This is extremely helpful since most textbooks are somewhat obscure and can only really be used in a classroom setting. No sense buying a textbook you are only going to use for a semester and then never look at again.

If you need to buy a book or novel (sometimes needed for English classes), check eBay or Amazon for used versions of the book instead of going to your college bookstore or Barnes & Noble and paying full-price for a brand new copy.

2. Use Your Meal Plan

College meal plans are very expensive and I’ve known some people that don’t use up their money before the year is over. It depends on which school you attend, but some meal plans don’t roll over to the next year if there is a remaining balance. This means that any money or “swipes” you don’t use from your plan automatically disappears and goes back to the school.

Using your meal plan to the full extent may seem bothersome and the food may get old, but it’s worth it to eat your meals at school if you already have a meal plan. Also, make sure to check and see if your school offers different dollar amount meal plan levels. You could be paying for the highest meal plan when you really may only need/want a smaller one to grab a snack on campus every now and then.

Another tip to use your meal plan and save money is to shop for small, household items at your school. Most universities have a small market or convenience store that you can use your meal plan balance at. While the items there are usually over-priced, it still makes sense to use your meal plan balance for things like toothbrushes and cleaning supplies rather than going to a convenience store like Walgreens/Target.

3. Make a Budget

Budget is such a daunting word. Never in my life have I looked forward to budgeting my money or making a plan with it, but it is needed if you want to save money fast. Luckily, there are tons of iPhone and Android apps available to help make budgeting less stressful.

Goodbudget is an app that tracks your expenses and helps you stay on track with your budget. The app is free and tracks how you are doing with your money throughout the month. The app also allows you to share your budget with other people through syncing, which can be helpful if your parents want to track how you are spending your money at school.

Find out 5 ways to save money in college. The Emma Lenhart blog has tons of tips and tricks to save money on college expenses and textbooks.

4. Have a Side Hustle

Saving money in college is only an option if you have some money coming in. Looking for ways to make money fast in college? Check out this post, where I talk about ways to make money as a college student.

If you don’t think you have time for a full-on job, or are a freshman and still getting adjusted to the college lifestyle, consider having a “side hustle.” A side hustle is something you can do in your free time and usually doesn’t require having a set schedule or even a boss managing you.

My favorite side hustles are all online and have given me tons of flexibility with my money in the past. A great side hustle to do in college is taking online surveys, where marketers pay you to give your input about various products and services. The best website I’ve found for doing this is Opinion Outpost. The website is completely legitimate and both my sister and I have used it in the past (and even now) to make extra money. The surveys are interesting and the payout can be in gift cards or even on PayPal. Score!

Click here to register for Opinion Outpost and start earning money today. It’s extremely easy to sign up and you can start earning cash now!

5. Shop Around for Housing Options

When people think about housing options at college, they normally picture themselves living in a dorm or on-campus housing for the majority of the time. However, this is not always the cheapest way to go and looking for housing off-campus can sometimes help you save money.

In fact, at the university I attend, living off campus is significantly less expensive. Sure, I have to pay my own utilities and have to deal with having a landlord, but I also get great benefits like not having an RA or quiet-time hour restrictions.

When looking for housing, make sure to do your research and compare the cost of living on-campus in a dorm or apartment and living off-campus. Living off-campus isn’t as scary or bothersome as it sounds and can be just a short walk to class. Call realtors that represent apartments/housing around your school and inquire about the monthly rates and rent. Then do the same and research what it costs to live on-campus or in a dorm at your school. Don’t make the mistake of always assuming that living in a dorm is better or cheaper!


How do you save money in college? 

Find out 5 ways to save money in college. The Emma Lenhart blog has tons of tips and tricks to save money on college expenses and textbooks.

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Below you will find 32 self-care ideas you can easily practice. Having a positive mindset and a clear mind is super important for setting yourself up for success. It’s hard to be hopeful about the future when you hate your current situation. While everything in life may not be in our control, we can control some of it and learn to take care of ourselves. Practicing self-care while still in college is important for managing stress and anxiety in some of the craziest years of our life yet!

Accepting yourself

Growing up, I was a pretty big introvert (and still am.) Because of this, I would get anxious when I had too much on my plate, and needed a lot of “alone time” to feel good every day. Some of my other friends didn’t operate the same way and would get frustrated or annoyed when I told them I would be hanging out at home when they were out at dinner/etc. It took me a long time to realize that I wasn’t just “lame”, but rather wired differently and I needed to recognize that in order to take care of myself.

Ever since realizing that about myself, I try and take time for myself throughout the week. Some of my favorite self-care things to do are taking a nap, online shopping and treating myself to something I’ve wanted for a long time, or making myself a heaping bowl of ice cream. 

I’ve compiled a list of 32 self-care practices you can try on your own to take some time for yourself this season. What are you doing to take care of (insert your name here?)

What is self-care?

Simply put, self-care is the art of taking care of yourself and realizing that you are a human that has needs, whether you want to admit it or not. Self-care is sometimes pushed to the back burner of our lives when we see more pressing situations calling for our attention. Self-care isn’t really anything too serious, but rather something that I think should be normalized.

32 Self-Care Ideas to Practice in College

  1. Listen to your favorite album on a vinyl record. If you don’t have a record player yet, check out this one. It’s only $45 and I love mine!
  2. Take a bath and put extra bubble bath in. Don’t have a bath tub? Use your favorite body wash in the shower.
  3. Re-watch your favorite episode of a TV show on Netflix. (I love re-watching Broad City or New Girl episodes…hilarious!
  4. YouTube “beginner yoga” videos and try it out on your living room floor.
  5. Call up a friend that you normally don’t get to talk to or usually just text. Ask them how they are doing and share stories.
  6. Re-arrange your closet or dresser. Organizing always helps me clear my head and makes my room feel less stressful/cluttered.
  7. Pamper yourself with body cream and give yourself a proper manicure/pedicure.
  8. Search for Pinterest recipes for a DIY at-home facial. My favorite one is here, which helps with oily skin and breakouts!
  9. Light a candle in your room.
  10. Write in a journal about what has been going on in your life lately. I’m not much of a journaler, but I find it helps me take a step back and realize how amazing my life truly is!
  11. Buy yourself flowers! I love seeking out new markets and grocery stores in my neighborhood in search of the prettiest bouquet.
  12. Invite someone to go get coffee with you that you normally wouldn’t.
  13. Spray your favorite perfume on the bottom of your shower before you get in. The smell will fill the room!
  14. Strip your bed of all the sheets, pillow cases, and comforters. Wash and dry them with lots of dryer sheets 😉
  15. Go to a museum in your city (or somewhere nearby) by yourself. Allow yourself to spend as much time at one exhibit/piece as you want.
  16. Find a library that currently has that book you’ve always wanted to read and go pick it up.
  17. Make a healthy smoothie or acai bowl. I love using up my old bananas by blending them with frozen fruits + kale.
  18. Go for a run or hop on a treadmill/elliptical. I love listening to ’90s R&B when working out 😉
  19. Create a new playlist of all your favorite songs and load it up onto your phone or Spotify to play when you are on a commute/hanging out at home.
  20. Make a handmade card for someone you love. Pinterest has a ton of great ideas and they don’t cost a dime! (Well…besides the stamp.)
  21. Go through your closet for old clothes that you don’t wear or use anymore. Research and find somewhere to drop off the clothes to donate.
  22. Read a passage of the Bible that you feel speaks to your current situation. Pray to God about what is on your heart and listen for a response.
  23. Get a massage. These can be expensive but are worth it and a once-in-awhile treat (at least for us college students.)
  24. Deep condition your hair with a mask. Don’t want to spend money buying one? My sister swears by using coconut oil on dry hair.
  25. Prepare yourself some comfort food. Macaroni & cheese, pizza, chocolate cake, oh my!
  26. Write down a list of the 20 things and people you are thankful for in your life right now.
  27. Listen to a podcast that interests you. I feel like so many don’t use the Podcast app on their iPhones…hello people! It’s already downloaded on your phone and a ton of podcasts are free to listen to.
  28. Make yourself breakfast early one morning and enjoy it in bed.
  29. Find an event going on in your city and attend it. Scared to go alone? Invite a friend/family member/co-worker.
  30. Look at old photos with people you love. One of my favorite things to do is watch home movies from when my sister and I were little girls!
  31. Go for a hike or long walk in your area. Breathe in the fresh air and admire the nature around you!
  32. Play with or pet a dog. Don’t own one? Try visiting a shelter or even volunteering!

What is your favorite way to practice self-care?

32 Self-Care Ideas

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It’s the best time of the year when finals are finally over + it’s about time to go home for the holidays. However, traveling home can be stressful when you attend school that is far away from your hometown. Luckily, you can still travel lightweight and carry-on only when going home to see your family.

The Carry-On Suitcase

In order to travel carry-on only, you’ll need to have a trusty suitcase to lug around with you. Below are some of my favorite picks for carry-on bags. A silver suitcase? Yes, please.

I also love this carry-on suitcase from Delsey. It’s originally $320, but Amazon has it listed for $70 (and free shipping with Prime!) The suitcase also has a 4.5 star rating, which is pretty awesome if you ask me.

How to Travel Carry-On Only With a Capsule Wardrobe

Traveling with just a carry-on may seem impossible when going from campus to home, but it can be done! I’ve selected my essential pieces for packing. A capsule wardrobe like this allows you to easily mix and match separate pieces to create endless outfits. This way, you won’t have to re-wear the same outfit over and over again, but can still pack light.

Things to Remember:

  • Pick a color theme or scheme. Obviously, from what you can see in the photo below, I love dark colors and wearing black a lot. However, I totally understand that not everybody enjoys wearing all-black, every day! When packing your carry-on, try and keep the articles of clothing in a similar color theme. This way, you can easily intermix tops and bottoms without much thought.
  • Roll your clothing to save space. Learning this packing tip seriously changed my travel-life. Rolling all of your tops, jeans, and undergarments will save a ton of space when compared to just simply folding.
  • Don’t forget to bring a personal item. I like to bring a purse or my Herschel backpack as my personal item when traveling carry-on only. I also put all of my chargers and electronic devices in here so I can get some work done while on the plane!
  • Wear your winter jacket on the plane. Big, puffy winter jackets can take up a lot of space. This is why I always wear mine while at the airport. Plus, it’s nice and snuggly to use as a blanket in chilly airplanes.

Carry-on Only Capsule Wardrobe

The Packing List

Chunky Sweater

Packing a great chunky sweater will be a lifesaver over winter break. Sweaters are perfect for layering under your winter coat and add some cozy comfort to any outfit. My favorite sweater at the moment is this one. It’s only $16 and I love the dark grey color.

V-Neck Tee

I have to admit, I always consider comfort when getting dressed in the morning. V-neck shirts are my favorite because they aren’t too tight and always super soft.

Graphic Tee

If you know me, you know that I absolutely love graphic tees. I feel like a girl can never have too many! The sayings on them are honestly just too funny! My current favorite is this pack that includes 3 shirts: Black, White, and Warm Grey.

Striped Top

I love a striped top for the winter season because it can be easily dressed up or down. Pair it with some leggings for a cozy night in, or with a pair of black skinny jeans and flats for dinner out with the family.

Black Leggings

My current favorite leggings are from Lululemon because they aren’t see-through, and super durable. However, I do have tons of leggings from places like Target, LOFT, and more. Leggings are a go to when lounging around the house and a must-have for winter break.

Black Jeans

Black jeans are a staple because they can double-up as your “fancy pants” if you need an outfit for a holiday party, etc. Topshop jeans are my absolute favorite jeans of all time because they tailor their jeans to fit Petite and Tall women perfectly.

Blue Jeans

You can’t leave your favorite pair of blue jeans back at your dorm! Throw these in your carry-on for creating easy go-to outfits. My favorite way to pair blue jeans is with a graphic tee and some fuzzy socks like these.

Knit Dress

I normally bring home a knit dress for the holidays in case I will be attending any events or parties. If you don’t have anything like that to attend, think about whether you will need “church clothes” or a Christmas Eve outfit. The knit dress is a staple and will keep you warm and cozy while looking cute 😉

Chelsea Boots

Oh, how I love Chelsea boots. These boots are a staple for winter and can withstand the slush and snow of the season. Plus, there are tons of inexpensive brands that offer great Chelsea boot styles. My favorite pick right now are these boots from Sam Edelman.

Sneakers

I’m the type of girl that lives in sneakers. Adidas, Converse, Vans…I love ’em all. My go-to pair for the winter months are these white Adidas. They pair effortlessly with black/blue jeans and are great for running errands/shopping for holiday presents!

Looking to get your loved ones holiday gifts but don’t have the budget? Check out these helpful posts:

Flats

Flats are great to pack in a carry-on because they easily fold up and take up almost no precious suitcase space. Plus, they are perfect for a night-out with friends or anything that you may need to look a little more dressed-up for.

Scarf

What’s winter without a great scarf? I love scarves because they are inexpensive, come in a million prints, and layer perfectly to keep me warm in the cold Cleveland weather.

Reversible Purse

A reversible purse is a great option to bring with you on the plane as your one personal item. The bag itself will hold all of your little personal belongings (headphones, phone charger, books) while it can double as a purse when you finally make it back home. This one is only $40!

Shop the Capsule Wardrobe:


Are you heading home for winter break from college? Find out how to create the perfect capsule wardrobe to travel carry-on only and pack light.

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As a recent Chicago newbie, I set out on a mission to survey the streets to find the best Chicago coffee and coffee shops. I know how boring it can be to work/study in the same old spots, and I also know how expansive the city of Chicago is. So, I did the work for you and compiled a list for you to refer to in your pursuit to find the perfect cup of joe. The 5 places I’ve listed below are my tried and true spots and get the Emma Lenhart stamp of approval. And that’s not too easy to get 😉

If you’re anything like me, coffee is very important. Not just any coffee. But deep, rich, flavorful coffee.

Coffee is the juice that keeps me going on long days and drags me out of bed on cold mornings. I can’t remember the last time I went a day without drinking it. (Am I okay?) Well, I’m a night owl and a college student! Give me a break.

P.S. Yes, I have tried all of the Wifi connections at all of these locations and yes, they all work well. I know how important that can be!

The Best Chicago Coffee + Coffee Shops

1. Heritage Bicycles

Best Chicago Coffee Heritage Bicycles

Credit: Emma Lenhart

This is the hands down the coffee shop I frequent the most in Chicago. If you happen to visit this location on a Friday/Saturday, I will most likely be there. Yes, there is both bicycles and coffee at this place.

Heritage is snuggled in a perfect location in Lakeview, with just enough hustle + bustle around, but not so much that it’s distracting. The decor in the shop is extremely minimalistic (and beautiful). It’s basically what I want my future kitchen/home to look like. Well, minus the bikes.

This location is half bike shop, half cafe. Don’t worry, though, the bike side of the building isn’t loud or out of place. It actually adds a nice novelty element and is fun to watch on a study break.

The coffee and drinks at this shop are delicious and I love the pastries, too. My favorite things to get are a latte, and a biscuit (they bring them in from Bang Bang Pie!)

Located: 2959 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60657

2. Heritage Outpost

Best Chicago Coffee Heritage Outpost

Credit: Emma Lenhart

Heritage mentioned twice on this list?! Sorry, but it’s simply just too good to pass up.

Heritage Outpost is the sister coffee shop of the Heritage location mentioned above. I personally decided to make my way over to Heritage Outpost after seeing one-too-many Instagram posts about it on my feed. It looked too good to be true, but alas, it was perfect.

Heritage Outpost is a coffee shop/bar/bakery all rolled into one. That’s right. They serve tequila at this coffee shop!

Another thing I love about this location is that it is actually located in a hotel lobby. While that may sound problematic on paper, (interweb?), it actually works out flawlessly. I love sitting at Heritage Outpost, with a good cup of coffee, and people watching everyone that bustles through the doors.

The decor in this location is also very aesthetically pleasing, with a large wall that reads “Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy coffee.” Amen to that.

Location: 1325 W Wilson Ave, Chicago, IL 60640

3. Buzz: Killer Espresso

Best Chicago Coffee Buzz Killer Espresso

Credit: Eater Chicago

Seriously, if you haven’t been to Buzz yet, please go.

Buzz is located in Wicker Park which is one of my all-time favorite places to hang out in Chicago. The store is a short walk from the Blue Line Train and decorated beautifully. It also has an awesome ambiance and calmness about it that is perfect for getting work done. The shop in Wicker Park also has two levels, which I like. I usually order my drink downstairs, and then mosey my way upstairs to settle in and snag a seat close to an outlet 😉

Located: 1644 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

4. Osmium Coffee Bar

Best Chicago Coffee Osmium

Credit: Workfrom

This bar is located right off the Belmont Red Line and is another go-to of mine. I love the layout of the cafe and how bright and vibrant the colors are at Osmium. Their graphic design is on point (something only I would point out.)

The staff at Osmium is also incredible and I’ve always had pleasant experiences there. My favorite drink to get at Osmium is an agave latte. SO GOOD.

If you fall in love with the coffee served at Osmium and want to make it at home, check out their online store. where they sell a ton of different roasts and blends of their Dark Matter coffee.

Located: 1117 W Belmont Ave., Chicago, IL 60657

5. Gaslight Coffee Roasters

Best Chicago Coffee Gaslight Coffee Roasters

Credit: Bon Appetit

Gaslight is probably one of the busiest spots on this list, but it’s still a great place to get some studying or work done at. But beware, you usually have to keep your eyes peeled to grab a chair/table at peak times during the day.

I like going to Gaslight with a friend and having a laptop date. A.K.A. “Let’s sit next to each other for multiple hours and do work while not talking and drinking lots of coffee.” 😂

Located: 2385 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647


Where is the best Chicago coffee shop in your opinion? If you don’t live in Chicago, where do you go in your city to get work done/study? 

Best Chicago Coffee Pinterest

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