Decorative Image of Growing Money

Don't spend money you don't have

Ways to Save Money in Missoula

It is possible to save money in and after college!  Here are some examples and ideas:


Missoula is a great city for free or cheap entertainment!  Search the Missoula Events website for music, art, sport, food or educational entertainment available in the city (note: not all events are free however you can search for ones that are).  During the summer months, there is a free concert every Thursday evening in Caras Park as well as food vendors and entertainment for the kids.  You can find more information on DownTown Tonight here.  

Decorative Image of Carras Park

Missoula also has a monthly event called First Friday where downtown businesses, galleries and museums stay open late so the public can enjoy new art exhibits and socialize with artists and gallery owners.  More information on First Fridays can be found here

Decorative Painting of First Friday in Missoula

The Missoula Public Library is an amazing resource for free entertainment in books, audiobooks, DVDs and CDs.  And they have extended their collection to the digital world!  Through an application called OverDrive, you can borrow ebooks and audiobooks instantly from the Missoula Public Library: all you need is an Internet connection and library card.  

Screen Shot of the OverDrive HomePage


As a general rule, gas stations raise their prices between 10am and noon so filling up earlier in the day will usually get you a better price.  Also, gas prices usually go up by Wednesday as stations are prepping for pre-weekend price increases.  So filling up early in the morning, before Wednesday will help you save on gas prices!   

Movie Tickets

By purchasing your movie tickets at a wholesale club you can save up to $3.50 off full price tickets (typlically it brings down the price of the ticket to $8).  If it's too expensive for you to purchase the package deal, see if you can find some friends to split the pack.  


You can save money on your groceries by making and following a shopping list instead of making impulse purchases.  Choosing generic brands (such as store brands) over name brands will also save you money since the generic brands do not have the advertising costs that the name brands do.  Coupons are also a great way to save on your grocery costs.  There are so many blogs on the Internet that offer great advice on couponing, how to coupon and what coupons to use this week.  Here is a coupon blog that has a great introduction to couponing for beginners!  Keep an eye on the workshop schedule for upcoming workshops about coupons and how to significantly decrease your grocery spending.  

Decorative Image of Coupons on a Table

Hard times can hit anyone and college students are no exception to this.  Over 12% of Montanans use food stamps and nation wide over 46 million Americans use the food stamp program.  If you find yourself not able to purchase groceries after paying your monthly bills, you may be eligible for food stamps thru the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP).  If you are interested in seeing if you are eligible for SNAP food stamps, you can use this prescreening to see if you qualify for SNAP benefits in the state of Montana.  If you are eligible for food stamps, you can apply for Montana SNAP Benefits here.  If you have other questions about food stamps, visit the SNAP benefits website.  

Decorative Image of SNAP Logo


Ways to cut the cost of expensive textbooks can be hard to find, but it's not impossible!  Searching for your textbooks online can significantly reduce the final price of your books especially if you are willing to get a previously owned textbook.  An alternative to this would be to rent your textbooks from The Bookstore.  Once you are done with your textbook you also have the option to sell your textbook back to The Bookstore or to sell it online.  Both are good ways to get a little bit of money back if you do not want to keep your textbook for reference.

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Microsoft Office 365

The University of Montana is now providing Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus for free to currently enrolled students through the Microsoft Campus Agreement. Students may install this software on up to five computers – PC or Mac – and five mobile devices – Apple iOS, Android and Windows Mobile.

Detailed information about Office 365 ProPlus is available on the IT website.  Questions may be directed to IT Central at 406-243-HELP (4357)

Decorative Image of Microsoft Office 365 Suite

Make Saving A Habit

Saving money can help you achieve your goals, gain financial stability and prepare for future emergencies.  

Get in the habit of transferring funds to your savings account every month.  Even if you're only able to save $10 or $25 a month, that can enable you to have an emergency fund available should an immediate need arise!

After you graduate and have a larger income, experts suggest that you put at least 10% of your monthly gross income (that is, the amount of money you make before taxes) into your savings account.  

Decorative Image of Saving Change in Jars

MESA Program

The Matched Education Savings Account (MESA) program is now available at UM!  THe MESA is a special matched savings account for people with lower incomes. These accounts are designed to help families and individuals of modest means establish a pattern of regular saving.  The Montana MESA Programs are dedicated to helping participants save for post‐secondary education at a Montana school.

A matched savings account is a promise to supplement a MESA participant’s savings deposit at a specific rate. UM participants will have a matching rate of 3:1 which means that for every dollar a participant saves as part of the program, he or she will be eligible to receive another three dollars. So if you save $500 throughout the course of the program and meet all the other program requirements you will be eligible for $1,500 match to purchase the agreed upon asset (tuition or books for the following semesters).  

Participants must meet the following requirements: 

1) Have an annual household income at or below 200% of Federal Poverty levels or income at or below the Earned Income Tax Credit threshold. 


2) Do not have household net worth exceeding $10,000. (In determining net worth, the primary dwelling and one motor vehicle owned by a member of the household will be excluded.)


3) The applicant must have earned income


4) The applicant must be a Montana resident enrolled at one of the participating schools. Individuals applying for the Statewide MESA must be enrolled at a Montana post‐secondary school.

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about the MESA Program.

To apply for the program, visit the Montana Credit Unions for Community Development website. Questions should be directed to Nolan Glueckert at or (406) 324-7460.