Saving Money


Remember, the Student Effort is the estimate of the amount of money you should try to earn in a given year through summer employment and employment on campus to cover your expenses and bills. One way to develop financial stability is to minimize your expenses and create and stick to a budget. Below are strategies Yale students have used to save money while at Yale.

Opening A Checking/Savings Account

The best way to keep track of your money is through your bank account. There are many banks in New Haven with checking account services. You should be sure to ask for a student checking account, as these accounts have fewer fees attached and may not require a minimum balance. Direct deposit of your paycheck can also lower or eliminate fees (see instructions for Direct Deposit on the Yale Student Jobs website).

Choose the bank with the fewest and lowest fees, lowest minimum balance to maintain an active account, and a bank that can be used/accessed when travelling. Larger banks such as Chase or Bank of America have more ATMs in more locations, which will make accessing your funds while travelling easier, but they can have higher fees. Other lower cost options include credit unions, which charge less in fees but only have a few ATM locations.

Also, as part of your checking account you may want to get a debit card supported by Visa or MasterCard so that you can have purchases taken directly out of your bank account and limit your credit card use. Having a low or no-fee savings account can also help you with budgeting and saving for emergencies or special events. A good rule of thumb is to “pay yourself first” by putting 10% of each paycheck straight into your savings account. You also might want to keep the bulk of your money in your savings, and set up an automatic transfer to your checking account each week to set and keep to your weekly budget.

Keep on top of your spending and income by making it a habit to check your account balance and transactions regularly. Just as stepping on a scale daily can help maintain your physical health, checking your account balance daily can keep you financially healthy.

Limiting Routine Expenses: Books and Course Materials

One of the biggest out-of-pocket expenses for college students are books, course packets, and other course materials. Here are some tips for minimizing your expenses through free or lower cost options:

Borrowing Directly from the Yale Library

Yale University has one of the most comprehensive libraries in the world. Most texts required for your courses can be found within its stacks. Getting materials free from the library does take additional work and organization on your part, and thus has an opportunity cost. You need to find and sometimes request books early enough so that they arrive when you need them but not so early that you have to return them before you discuss them in class. As a result, you need to constantly be checking to make sure you have the materials you need at the right time.

Step One: Go to the library website:

Step Two: Search for the given book you need

Step Three: Sift through the results and click on the appropriate title/edition.

Step Four: Click “Recall” or “Delivery”

You can have your books delivered to the campus library of your choice without hunting through the stacks.  Sometimes a course book will be checked out or placed on a 24-hour/3-day reserve, specifying how long a book can be borrowed until it is due.  This, of course, could be restrictive if you need a book for an entire week of class.

Using Borrow Direct, or the Interlibrary Loan System (ILL)

Borrow Direct and ILL are available services that allow you to place an order for a book loan from participating libraries of other universities.  Borrow Direct books will arrive within 2-4 days, while ILL requests can take up to 14 days to be processed and delivered.  These two options are excellent solutions when a book you need has already been reserved and you don’t want to recall the book.

Both services are available as links in the top right hand corner of the main search page on Orbis. 

Using Scan and Deliver Services

If all you need is a select chapter(s) of a text on your syllabi, you may want to use the Scan and Deliver Services.  This service will allow you within 1-2 days of your request to have a library employee scan and email you a PDF of the section of a text you need.

With all of these resources from the Yale Library system at your fingertips, you should be able to choose in most cases whether or not you want to purchase a book for your class.  These services are especially helpful when gathering materials for a research project or senior essay.  Refer to the Get It @ Yale Library Guide for more in-depth information about how to use your library services:

Buy Used Books or Rent Books

The Yale College Bookstore, Amazon, and other sites enable buying used and rental copies of books. These low cost options allow you to worry about obtaining books only once or a few times per semester, lessening the amount of time you have to spend tracking down your books during the semester. Buying used also gives you the option of keeping a book after the semester ends. There are some books you will want to keep because they are important for your major, or simply because you love them and reading them changed your life.

Free and For Sale Facebook Group

Students often sell used copies of books and course materials on the Free and For Sale Yale Facebook Group. It is a closed group within Yale. You can find the group using this link:

Book Sharing

If there is an expensive or hard-to-find book assigned in your class, you might work with classmate to book share: each of you contributes equally to the cost of the book. As with other free/low-cost options, this takes some work and requires you to set rules for how you will share the book and what to do with the book when the class ends.

Saving Money on Food

Food Over Breaks

For students who stay in New Haven over breaks—including winter and spring breaks—visit the “Services” page to learn about options that provide meals when dining halls close.

Meal Plans

A full meal plan is mandatory for first-year students, including 3 dining hall swipes a day for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Eating healthy is an essential element to a work-school-life balance, so it is to your advantage to use all of your swipes to eat (especially breakfast, which some students skip). For more information about the dining plan, see the Yale Dining Website:

In addition to hot meals, the dining halls are stocked with cereal, breads, fruit and other snacks you can take with you to eat later. Instead of spending money on a snack, use food you’ve brought out of the dining hall. This is particularly helpful during midterms and finals season, when you may be working intensely and need to refuel.


  • Double swipes are available at lunch time, allowing you to swipe at a second residential college dining hall. This is helpful if you have a class in the middle of the day; you can swipe before for lunch and after class for a snack (or vice versa).
  • Your first lunch swipe for food up to $9 can also be used at Durfee’s Convenience Store, the KBT Café (on Science Hill), Café Med (on the Yale Med School campus), and the Divinity Refrectory. Second swipes can’t be used at these locations, and the swipes can only be used during normal lunch hours.
  • If you are living off-campus or are not on a meal plan after the first year, Sunday dinners are open to all residential college members.
  • You also receive five guest swipes per semester, allowing you to swipe a friend or family member into a dining hall for one meal free of charge (or to get yourself an extra meal).
  • There is free food all over campus on any given night, whether it’s dinner at the cultural houses or food for events and meetings.  This is a great opportunity to sample the cuisine of local New Haven restaurants without having to spend a dime! You can find free food by following the Free Food at Yale Facebook page:

Dining Out

New Haven is a great food city, and there will be times during the year when you’ll want to treat yourself or attend a special social event at a restaurant. First, plan for these expenses through your budgeting. Second, limit the number of times per semester you go out to eat—this should be a once every few weeks occurrence rather than a daily or weekly occurrence. Third, try to eliminate everyday small food expenditures, like going to a coffee shop for coffee—these small daily expenditures can add up quickly.

Here are some other suggestions for keeping your dining out bills low:

  • If friends propose taking someone out for a celebration dinner, suggest a dessert event instead. Or, get together and cook in one of the residential college kitchens.
  • When dining out with friends, decide how the check will be paid before you order, and suggest that everyone pay according to what they order instead of dividing the check equally at the end. The momentary social or emotional discomfort you (or others in the group) may feel in making this request is less significant than the financial discomfort you will feel when the bill comes and you have to pay beyond your budget for other people’s food and drink. 
  • Use coupons, which you can sometimes find on restaurant websites for advertising flyers. Sign up for New Haven restaurant alerts from Groupon to get deals when you do treat yourself.

Saving Money on Clothing and Personal Care

Plan Shopping and Self-Care Trips

Many of the shops and services near the Yale campus are relatively expensive. If you need clothing, toiletries, or a reasonably-priced haircut, going to a shopping plaza farther away from campus in New Haven or in Hamden can be a good choice. Most shopping plazas are served by low-cost CT Transit buses: Ask you peers for suggestions of where to shop and find services.

Buying online is another good option for clothing and personal care items. Look for sales and online discounts. Finally, New Haven and the surrounding area hosts a variety of vintage clothing shops and used clothing/furniture shops like Goodwill.

Yale New Haven Hospital Auxilary Thrift Shop

1386 Chapel St.

(213) 789-3312

Salvation Army Thrift Store

1359 Dixwell Ave (3.0 mi away)

(203) 230-2323


61 Amity Road, #4 (3.1 mi away)

(203) 397-2735

Saving Money by Living Off-Campus (for Juniors and Seniors)

Note that off-campus housing is only available to juniors and seniors or students over 21 years old. 

Students find apartments through the Off Campus Living Portal, located at  Other places to find housing listings include Craigslist and the “Housing, Sublets & Rommmates near New Haven and Yale” Facebook group.

You can still choose to have a meal plan if you live off campus (though this will deduct from your Financial Aid refund). Alternatively, you can start learning to cook for yourself, offering a potentially more affordable and healthy method of obtaining your meals. Make sure you plan to eat well! A healthy, balanced and adequate diet is critical to your academic success.

Some students also find employment opportunities off-campus, though Yale’s minimum wage and flexibility for student workers can be hard to beat.