(note: this post was originally posted as a guest post on call me sassafras, but since i just started school this week and have a ton on my plate, i thought id use today to share this extremely relevant information)
spring is in full swing, which means time for college acceptance letters and time to start freaking out about how expensive EVERYTHING even remotely college related is. well lucky for you, i have LOTS of experience in being a broke college student (actually, i just started the fashion program at my local community college), and while i dont have any advice on how to make the college itself any cheaper, i do have a few (five, to be exact) tips to make all those little expenses a LOT more manageable.
lets get started, shall we?
1. skip the school bookstore at the beginning of the semester.
basically, your school bookstore is THE MOST EXPENSIVE PLACE ON EARTH to buy textbooks and you should avoid it at all costs. as SOON as you get your syllabi (yes, thats the proper plural of syllabus), head over to addall.com, and search the isbn numbers of the books you need to find the best price (actually, you may need to make a stop at the bookstore to get those numbers). the great thing about addall.com is that it not only gives you price comparisons on the book youre looking for, but it ALSO FIGURES IN SALES TAX AND SHIPPING so that you know that youre getting the absolute best price on all of the internet.
2. talk to your professors about what books/supplies youre actually going to use.
i know professors are sometimes scary (especially if youre at a new school), but if you really want to save yourself from buying a $100 textbook that wasnt even necessary (which, im pretty sure you do), ask them about the booklist. sometimes the book isnt very important and theres a reserve copy in the library, sometimes an old (and therefore MUCH cheaper) edition is ok, sometimes the book is on the syllabus but its not even really part of the class. any one of these things could end up saving you some money (and all of these have happened multiple times in my college career), but youll never know if you have other options book-wise unless you ask.
3. bring your own lunch/snacks/water.
i really shouldn't have to tell you that fast food/convenience food is way expensive (and way unhealthy) and that buying bottled water (or soda) every day adds up to a LOT of money. this gets even worse when you get onto a college campus. fun fact: i briefly attended usc (one of the most expensive colleges in america) and you know how much a bean burrito and small soda at the campus food court cost? $9. simple things like packing yourself a sandwich or an apple and investing in a reusable water bottle can save you TONS of money over the course of a semester, with the added bonus of helping you to eat healthier and avoid the dreaded freshman 15.
4. actually, skip the school bookstore at the end of the semester, too.
so, you know how at the end of the semester you can sell your books back to the school for about .5 percent of what you paid for them and it makes you want to cry? well, selling your books yourself on half.com (selling used books on amazon requires a merchant account, half.com doesnt) will get you a LOT more money (actually, there were times that i made a profit flipping my used textbooks). pro tip: look at the current selling price of your book and price yours one cent lower, chances are your book will be the first to sell.
5. buy your supplies at office stores.
at back-to-school time, the big office stores have ALL the basic supplies (pens, pencils, notebooks, index cards, etc) on sale for SO CHEAP (sometimes even just pennies). it may not be the cutest stuff, but hey, why spend $5 on a notebook when you could get one for 50 cents?
i hope that youve found these tips useful, they helped me immensely while i was in school, so i can personally attest to their effectiveness (and i plan on using every. single. one. this time around).
do you have any tips for saving money at school?