by Diane Schmidt
Retailers love the back to school season. Many students get excited about going off to college for the first time and spend a bundle on notebooks, pens, expensive plastic storage containers and packages of snack foods. So how do you get what you need and not overspend? Here are some savings tips:
- Buy school supplies at the lowest price available. Late July and August are the perfect time to stock up, especially at stores like Walmart and Kmart. You'll find that their notebook prices may be under 50 cents, while other times of the year, the prices can be triple.
- You'll find that a small refrigerator is a necessity, especially when it comes to saving money on food. Consider renting one from the college or do the math and see if it's cheaper to buy your own. Also microwaves will save you time and money.
- Get your stuff organized. The summer before going off to school is the perfect time to go through your closets and drawers. Consider donating clothes you no longer like or that do not fit. Once you have your basic wardrobe organized, decide whether buying new clothes is necessary.
- If you have a lot of stuff you don't need and don't want to bring with you to school, consider having a garage sale. Get your family involved in cleaning and organizing your home. Another way to get rid of extra stuff is to sign up for free seller accounts on ebay.com and half.com. Craigslist is a great way too to make some cash.
- Trade with friends. Do they have an extra storage container you could use and you have an extra laundry bag? Set up a time to swap with them.
- Did you receive a lot of cash for graduation? If so, resist the temptation to use it on school stuff. Look at what you have at home first before blowing that money. You might want to put it in a savings account for unexpected school expenses.
- Secondhand shops are a good place to find dorm supplies, such as storage containers, desk fans, lamps, and more.
- Garage sales may also have what you need and at even lower prices than secondhand stores.
Keep in touch with the family! Be sure your cell phone is up to date, has unlimited talk and text-
It's time to leave for school. The car is packed with your belongings. You saved quite a bit on money and have some in the bank. Now how do you save once you get to school?
- Before leaving for school, have a bake off with your family and friends. Prepare batches of cookies, bread or other treats and swap.
- Are you on a meal plan? Be sure to take advantage of it and schedule in when you will eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. If your class schedule means you'll need to miss a meal, have easy to prepare meals in your dorm, such as cereal, oatmeal, macaroni and cheese, and cans of ravioli.
- Between meals, carry a bottle to fill at water fountains or filled with your favorite beverage. Or if you are a coffee drinker, pack a thermos.
- Trips to the vending machine can add up. Fill a pocket of your backpack with healthy snacks, such as fruit, Jell-O cups, or pretzels.
- Buy your snack foods in bulk. Larger quantities are usually cheaper and it's easy to divide up the food into smaller portions.
- Shop at the grocery store for food. Check out the Sunday paper for grocery store ads and match coupons to save more!
Books and Tech
- Buy books after you've gone to the class. There are times when you don't really need the book.
- Sign up for Amazon Student- FREE shipping and more!
- If you do need the book, can you and a friend buy the book and split the cost? Can you check the book out of the library? Or get a free ebook version?
- If book sharing or using the library copy doesn't work out, check the bulletin boards to see if someone is selling their copy.
- Online bookstores charge a lot less than campus bookstores. Go online before heading to the campus bookstore.
Get those books for FREE! Click below-
- As a last resort, buy the book from your campus bookstore. You'll find of all of your options they charge the most. Even if you get stuck paying full price, take good care of the book and sell it at the end of the year.
Entertainment and More
- Use your student ID card to get into free concerts, special lectures, comedy shows, athletic events and more.
- Movie theatre chains that offer student discounts include AMC Theatres (discounts on Thursdays), Cinemark (discounts vary by location) and Marcus Theatres ($5 Thursdays) — but independent theatres often have student discounts, too.
- Many colleges offer well-equipped gyms and recreation centers. Take advantage of the opportunity to get a free workout.
- Join clubs, many offer special trips and events to members only.
- Parks, museums and window-shopping are all free. Students get discounted access to museums, including major ones such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
- Keep your long distance bill down and e-mail family and friends.
- Even if you have a printer, consider using the school's computer lab for print jobs. You'll save on ink cartridges and paper.
Don't pay for cable! Get Starz, Showtime and more for FREE! Click below-
- For a cheap, fun night at home, invite some friends over, make your own pizza (or order pizza with coupons!) and play some board games.
- Many businesses will offer student discounts. You just need to ask.
- Find out when happy hour is to get your fill of good food at a cheap price-it will also give you a break from campus and dorm food.
- When going home for break, consider riding with another student who is heading in the same direction. It's a much cheaper and fun alternative than paying for a bus, plane or train ticket.
Remember that all it takes is some creative thinking to save money while at college. Good luck while you embark on your college career.