Tag Archives: saving money in college

Five Ways to Save Money on Food in College

August 30, 2011

Let’s face it, college can be very expensive. However, there are alternatives to save money on food in college besides eating Ramen Noodles for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Tip #1 –  Campus meal plans

Image credit: Flickr.com, dougww

When students live off campus they sometimes believe they are not eligible to sign up for campus meal plans. This is not the case with every university. The initial investment may seem daunting at first, but remember that it often covers three meals a day, six or seven days a week. Ultimately, it should not be surprising that a large university buying in bulk can prepare meals for less money than an individual can. Granted, the food may not be exactly what you’re hungry for at the time, but the long term savings can be significant. You can also see if your college offers a partial meal plan, which will reduce the upfront costs and still save you money in the long-run.


Tip #2 – Shop on a full stomach and make a list before you go

This is not just good advice for college, but a trick that can save you money for a lifetime. If you make a list before you go to the store (and stick to it), you’ll avoid impulse buying. The same goes for eating before heading to the store; when you walk past donuts while hungry they start looking mighty tasty, but if you’ve just eaten you can stroll right past them.


Image credit: Flickr.com, gruntzooki

Tip #3 – The vending machine is not your friend

One of the luxuries of college is that most dorms and campus buildings have vending machines. However, the same snacks, candy or drinks that you buy through a vending machine can cost upwards of 70% less at the grocery store. These extra costs are going to add up quickly and can easily be avoided. Save money by getting your food, drinks, and snacks in advance and not giving in to temptation.


Tip #4 – Be a smart shopper

Yes, there are more exciting ways to spend your Sunday afternoon than reading through the Sunday paper for coupons and advertisements, but the savings you gain from comparing food prices at different grocery stores is astounding. If you combine this tip with tip #2 and plan ahead, finding a grocery store with many of your list items on sale can save you a lot of money.


Tip #5 – Watch the campus calendar

It can really pay off to watch bulletin boards and campus calendars for events where free food is served. There is absolutely nothing wrong with free food. You can get some great bites and save money just by dropping by stopping by a few of these events.

Image credit: Flickr.com, o5com

With so many other costs such as tuition, books, and an active social life, it’s important to try to save as much as you possibly can with small changes. With a little bit of planning ahead you too can save yourself some money and still eat great food. What tricks have you found to save money on food in college?


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.