When you live at home with your parents, there aren’t many things you’re responsible for buying. When you go to college, that all quickly changes. Suddenly, there are a million and a half things you need to buy, and more often than not, you’re probably job-searching at the same time. Read on for tips on saving money while you’re at college!
Make a list
Make a list of everything you need to buy, and stick to it. Don’t buy something if it’s not on the list. Make sure you include everything – books, clothes, groceries, toilet paper, toiletries. Then decide what you can buy the generic brands of, specifically on groceries, toilet paper, and toiletries. Oftentimes, the generic brand is the exact same thing as the more expensive name-brand items. (The only time this might not be true is with toilet paper – you’ll probably get 2-ply as opposed to 4-ply or something.)
And by “clip,” I mean search online for printable coupons. (Come on…does anybody in college seriously get the Sunday paper?) There are tons of good coupon websites, such as redplum.com, coupons.com, and, for clothing websites as well as groceries, retailmenot.com. These websites usually require you to download the (free) coupon-printing software. But what if you don’t have a printer? Download the software and a picture of what you’re printing should come up. Take a screenshot of this and paste it into Paint. Save the document to your USB drive and print it for free at the school library. And speaking of the library…
Take advantage of the library
Free printing, free access to academic material, discounted or free copy machine usage…you get the picture? Having your own printer is sometimes more convenient, but it’s expensive. Ink is not cheap, neither is printer paper. It’s worth the walk to the library when you think of how much money you’ll save.
Save on the essentials
So you’re taking 18 hours and each course requires at least three books? Those add up, and quickly. Before you order (or pre-order) your books online, talk to your teachers. Ask if you can get the previous editions. Sometimes, the syllabus will say the 13th edition, but your teacher will allow you to use the 12th edition. This can save you literally hundreds of dollars. Case in point: I had two books that cost me $128 each. My teachers said I could use the previous editions, which I got for less than $13 each, including the next-day shipping. If your teachers won’t allow you to use the old editions, go used. You’ll save at least a couple books. You might also check if your school library has the textbook. You can check it out and keep renewing it until the semester is over – completely free!
Raid your house
When you go home for a visit, stock up on essentials. Whenever I go home, I add stuff like feminine products, chips, whatever to our shopping list so I can take it back to school with me. It’s not expensive stuff, so my parents don’t mind, and it saves me $20 – $30.
If you have a meal plan – take FULL advantage of it. Some places (like my cafeteria) don’t allow you to take food out for future meals or snacks in your dorm. (But if you’re sneaky and you have a bag big enough to stick some Tupperware in… ;) ) Eat in the cafeteria any chance you get. If you have “money” on your meal plan card, see what places on campus accept it – the bookstore, perhaps a convenience store, etc etc. If you don’t eat on campus, steer clear of fast food. It leaves you hungry not too long afterwards, it’s not healthy, and it’s expensive. Instead, stock up on (generic-brand) essentials at your local grocery store. If you can, get a Sam’s Club membership. You can buy in bulk and for less than the grocery-store price!
Splurge a little
I know, I know – this goes against everything I’ve been saying. While I’m not telling you to go out and buy the $200 pair of shoes the minute you see them or get a $4 latte from Starbucks every day, allow yourself a little wiggle room. You’re saving a lot of money – have a little bit of fun and reward yourself! A latte once a week? Go for it! $200 shoes on sale for $50? How can you say no?
What Do You Think?
How do you save money? What are your best tips? Leave us a comment and share! Let’s get an even bigger list going with all your best kept secrets to help other college girls out, and pick up a few for yourself!