Tag Archives: how to save money in college

Save Money in College | Money Saving Tips for Students

November 30, 2011

How Students Can Save Money in College

College is an exciting time in students’ lives.  Students learn about new subjects and explore their career options in a safe, knowledge-based setting. However, it is important college students also begin to form healthy financial habits in college. Too often, students that start off on the wrong foot make poor decisions later on, especially when it comes to their finances. Here are some ways students can save money in college and use their money in smart ways. These methods have worked for a number of students and are a good way to usher in adulthood and responsibility.

Purchase Second-Hand Supplies & Textbooks

Save money in college - used funrniture

You'll probably have some of these items that you can bring from home. Credit: William Hook, Flickr.com.

Many students want all new supplies for their dorm room. This can cost students and parents a lot of money and frustration when the bill arrives.  Thus, consider borrowing and buying used as strategies to save money in college:

  • Buy items like furniture, second-hand. You may find good second-hand supplies like coffee tables or lamps at consignment shops or garage sales. You might even have these supplies at home and can easily transport them with you to college.
  • Talk to family and friends and see if they have any supplies lying around you can buy at a lower cost. You never know when an old desk can become a study companion at college!
  • Bring materials and supplies you already have. Your pillow from home will work just as well at college and decorative items like photos or pictures you wish to hang up might be suited for your dream dorm room design. Additionally, bringing items you already own may help when you feel homesick at college. It is always a better option to add a touch of home to a dorm room rather than shopping for brand new items at stores.

Use Meal Plans

Most colleges require students to purchase a meal plan as part of their room and board. Even commuter students that live at home or have an off-campus apartment may be required to have a meal plan in order to keep their enrollment status. Meal plans are often grandfathered into costs and are difficult to avoid. Here are some tips for strategically using a meal plan to help  save money in college:

  • The meal plan is typically already paid for as a set number of meals per week or in points for food and beverage items on campus. The school may offer a combination of both of these options in their meal plants. Students do not have to spend extra money on meals with meal plan options, which is a benefit for those students that do not work while in school.
  • Colleges have begun focusing on healthier meal options. This helps students avoid calories and unnecessary spending on unhealthy foods they might be tempted to buy off campus.
  • Check your school’s policy on meal plans and any restrictions, such as times the cafeterias might be closed. This can help you plan your schedule better and make plans with friends to meet on campus for meals.

Check out even more advice on how to save money on food in college.

Avoid Using Credit Cards

Save money in college - avoid the plastic!

Leave the plastic at home and save money in college. Credit: Andres Rueda, Flickr.com.

Credit cards are readily available on college campuses and can easily lead students down to a dangerous path of increased debt and frustration. Avoid using credit cards or being cajoled into signing up for one while on campus. The benefits the salesperson might tell you at the table will not outweigh the cost of high interest rates.

  • If you come on campus with a credit card, use it sparingly. Students typically have a parent as a cosigner on credit cards, so overuse of credit might harm the parent’s credit score, too.
  • Avoid using credit by leaving the card out of your wallet altogether. Store it in a safe place, such as in a small safe with a lock, so you are not tempted to use it on a regular basis. If you must use credit for purchases, pay the debt off immediately the next month.

It may be challenging for students to save money in college, but it is not impossible! Following these steps will ensure many dollars (and headaches) saved during your college experience!

Seven Tips to Lower College Textbook Costs

July 19, 2011

As an Oregon State University student from 1999 – 2003, I must admit that I didn’t know much about how to save money in college.  I wasted a LOT of money on my college textbooks.  For example, I initially just assumed that I needed to buy all my books from the college bookstore.  Wow, was I wrong! But, you don’t have to make the same mistakes that I did, and waste all of the money that I did!  Here are some great tips to lower the cost of college textbooks:

  1. Once you register for classes, your college should give you a list of ISBNs for the books required for your classes.  Get your ISBN list as soon as possible to start shopping. The longer you wait until the start of the semester/term, the higher the prices will be.
  2. Buy used. There is a lot of hype right now around textbook rentals and e-books.  But, as the example at the bottom of this post shows, it is almost always better to buy used and then sell it back at the optimal time of year (see #7).
  3. Only buy used textbooks from sellers with great feedback. Look for sellers in the online marketplaces with at least 95% positive feedback, but preferably 98-99% positive.  The seller should also have at least 500 feedback ratings over the past year, to ensure they are reputable.
  4. Buy from a company or seller in your state, or in a nearby state.  Most used textbook sellers will use standard “media mail” to ship your book.  That can take 14-21 days when shipping from the east coast to the west coast, for example.  Buy from your state, or a nearby state, to minimize this risk and receive your books in 4-6 days versus 2-3 weeks.
  5. Buy from sellers that take the time to describe the textbook’s condition in detail.  You may need to know if the textbook comes with a CD or DVD, for example.  Not all sellers will indicate this, except the great ones like MKZbooks.com. Okay, as the owner of McKenzie Books, I might be a bit biased but seriously the quality and detail of a book’s description is indicative of the quality and care of the seller.
  6. Ask your professor if it is OK to use the old edition of the textbook.  Many times it is, and if you can use the old edition, this can save you a HUGE amount of money!  When you register for classes, many colleges will provide the email address of the professor.  Send an email–it doesn’t hurt to ask!
  7. Sell your textbooks back in August or January to a reputable buyback company.  The reason you want to wait until August or January is because that is when the highest demand to BUY textbooks will be.  And, where there is high demand, there is high buyback prices for you to sell!

We here at Cash4Books.net always aim to please our customers with our textbook buyback service. We offer free FedEx shipping on most textbook buybacks, no PayPal fees, no minimums, a convenient and free iPhone App, lightening fast payment processing, and excellent customer service (a live person will actually answer the phone, unlike other companies).  You can also sell your other used books back to Cash4Books at the same time you sell your textbooks!

 

To expand on #2, above: In a recent study that I performed, the textbook Psychology by David G. Myers (ISBN 9781429215978), was on average $79.46 to buy used, $73.14 as an e-book and only $58.49 to rent. However, selling back the book for an average of $45.61 meant that the total cost of ownership was only $33.85 for those students who bought and resold the book. That’s a whopping $24.64 cheaper than renting, and $39.29 cheaper than the e-book.