Raise your hand if you wish you had more money! I’m pretty sure the only people not raising their hands are the people who didn’t hear the question. But the beginning of the school year can be pretty rough on the wallet. There’s no way to get around certain expenses, but you can make things a little cheaper using some of the following tricks:
1. Use Amazon wisely
Now, be careful here. You know how Amazon has all those amazing “Free Two Day Shipping” deals for Prime members? Well shipping isn’t actually free. It’s included in the price of the item. You can often find deals online that are cheaper than the Prime price…by exactly how much shipping costs. However, Amazon doesn’t tend to markup its prices much. Amazon is making a huge number of sales and only making a tiny bit of profit off each one, physical stores have to make much more per item sold so they up the price. It’s a balancing act. The cost of shipping vs. the markup cost. One easy way to see which has the better deal is to just take your phone with you to the office supply store. Use the Amazon app to compare prices by scanning the bar code. Put whichever one is cheaper in your cart.
2. Check Wish
If you’ve never heard of it, Wish is an app for shopping for super cheap Chinese products and you can find some seriously adorable school supplies. When I say cheap, I mean really cheap. Like, $20 for a wedding dress cheap. Most people use Wish to find inexpensive and unusual clothing (although beware, it comes in Asian sizes), but Wish carries everything from clothing to cookware to decor. If you’re looking for adorable pens and notebooks while still dirt cheap, Wish is the place to go. However, shipping takes FOREVER. It takes so long you will likely have completely forgotten you ordered it. It can take anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple months. Wish goes with the budget shipping options so, while this allows them to charge next to nothing, it also means if you have classes tomorrow and need a notebook today Wish is not the place to go.
3. Go on Facebook
A lot of colleges have active buy/sell/trade groups. These are primo territory for cheap school supplies, especially textbooks. It’s a matter of luck whether what you need will be posted by someone else, but it isn’t unusual for someone to be dumping every book they bought for a particular class in one go for really, really cheap. This is also a great place to find used furniture that you can be reasonably sure has nothing living in it. People will be moving out of dorms and off campus housing and selling whatever they don’t want to bring with them. If you don’t see anyone selling exactly what you need, post an ad requesting specific textbooks or readings and someone might just be willing to part with old, used copies of things for a quick buck.
4. Surf eBay
eBay is another great place to find used textbooks. Shipping can be a killer so look carefully before you buy, but reselling used textbooks has become a cottage industry on eBay and it’s rare they won’t have what you need. You can also sometimes find great deals buying supplies wholesale. If you want 2,000 pencils, eBay could be the way to go.
5. Go to a Dollar Store
Do you really need high quality basics? For pens, pencils, paper, notebooks, usually you can find something perfectly serviceable at the local dollar store. They might have off-brand versions of Frozen characters on them, but they will be about as cheap as you can find anywhere. Plus alternate universe Elsa is kind of awesome.
6. Never underestimate the power of coupons
I’m not asking you to become coupon obsessed and start clipping stuff from newspaper inserts (if you still get a paper newspaper). But before you go shopping at a big chain store, do some quick googling to find out if they’re offering any coupons. Big chain stores almost always are. You can usually download the coupons to your phone, and for five minutes work you can save a bundle. It sort of defeats the purpose of trying to save if you buy something you don’t need or weren’t going to buy anyway, but very often they will offer coupons that will cover anything you purchase.
What did we miss? How are you saving money for the new school year?