Shared Reading: Money-Saving Tips for College Students


Within the next week most college students will be returning to campus for another semester of higher education. Whether you live in an apartment or resident hall, there are many expenses that you can avoid. As you prepare for another, or in a freshmen's case first, semester I recommend you think about the following costs.

“Don’t borrow more money in student loans then you need, but make sure you’ve calculated what your need is,” says Gobel. “Rejecting excess financial aid is a good thing, but not having enough money for food later in the semester isn’t."

This is a great point. When you receive a refund from a loan, just remember that eventually you will have to pay the loan back with interest. Therefore if you are taking extra loans out for expenses throughout the semester, see if you can find a checking account with interest or a saving account that lets you withdraw as needed. While the interest will be much lower than what you end up paying back, every little bit helps.

The experts agree students can usually get better deals on required reading online compared to the campus bookstore.

When it comes to buying your textbooks at the beginning of the semester and selling them at the end, consider the internet over your campus bookstore. Even with shipping expenses you will save/make more money.  The bookstore needs to make money even on used books so they will often buy them back for next to nothing and sell them for only a slight discount of the new books.

I personally used Amazon for my textbooks while in school. Once you're on the books page, just click the buy used button on the right to see a list of potential sellers. At the end of the semester you can sell your books through Amazon as well.

Don't forget that Amazon is offering free Prime Membership to anyone with a .edu email address.

Analyze your class load this semester to determine if you need to make adjustments to your meal plan. If you are heavy on morning classes, you might not have time for a sit-down breakfast every morning.

Freshman year, my mother insisted that I have the largest meal plan which included every meal the cafeteria served so that I never had to worry. I quickly realized that I barely ate in the cafeteria, but instead used my flex account to eat at other campus locations. By the second semester I switched to a less expensive meal plan which offered less cafeteria meals but more flex spending. See what your school offers and decide which plan is best for your eating habits. You can always pay for an extra meal, but you won't get a refund on a meal plan that you don't use.

If you are an incoming freshman, check out the school’s policy on what is allowed in dorm rooms, many ban certain electronics.

Just a note to all you college students living on your own for the first time... Popcorn will set off a smoke detector in the resident hall if you don't take it out in time, your entire building will evacuate even if it is 3am and they will know which room set off the alarm. I was a RA for two years and at least once a week someone would set off the alarm microwaving a bag of popcorn.

This is the same reason why some electronics are banned from campus housing. The school I went to banned toasters, coffee makers (now allowed), and other kitchen type electronics for that safety reason. Before you spend money on a Egg-and-Muffin 2-Slice Toaster or Keurig Single-Serve Brewing System, make sure your housing contract allows them.  Some schools will fine you for breaking the contract by having banned items.

Read the full article on Money 101.

Do you have any tips for college students?  Something you wish you knew?  Leave a comment to help out your fellow readers if they're still in school.  


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