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Save Money While You're At College

By Kelly Ann Butterbaugh

Save Money While You're At College

Paying for college is a major headache, but the costs incurred while studying there are also high. There are ways to save money while you're at college, which can help pay for the next semester. All it takes is a little knowledge and a lot of will-power.



Try to find options other than the college bookstore when purchasing books or other materials. Often art classes load up on supplies at the book store which can be purchased at the local art supply store at much lower prices. The books themselves are also available other places than the college bookstore. With the help of the Internet, textbooks can be found at incredible prices.

Check out sites like and other book sale sites for used textbooks. Even with the shipping, these can be $40-$60 less per book, and many which are listed in the used listings are actually still in the shrink wrap. Can any be download as e-books? The downloading fee will be much less than the text itself.

For some courses, the library can be the biggest budget saver. English courses require books which are stocked in local and college libraries. Try to borrow what you can and avoid buying expensive books.


Frugal Food

Food is a big part of the college student's budget. The key to frugal food is self-control. Eat at the cafeteria and snack on simple, healthy foods such as fruits, crackers, and cereals. Ordering pizza, eating out, and buying expensive convenience foods is a tug of war with a college student's cash. While your wallet wants to pull it inside, your hunger pulls it back outside. Don't purchase sodas at $1 a piece, and don't spend $15-$20 on each meal when a pre-paid cafeteria meal awaits.

These cutbacks include expensive drinks as well. Lattes and sports drinks add up quickly, as much as $25 a week. Multiply that by the number of weeks on campus, and you can spend a quarter of your cost for textbooks for the semester on glass bottles of caffeine. Instead, keep it simple and splurge only once in awhile.


The Unessentials

It's hard to hear, but some of the best known aspects of college are unnecessary. Rather than creating an expense account for yourself, limit yourself and your studies will improve.

Attending the college is advertisement enough that you're a student; you don't need to wear expensive collegiate sweatshirts daily. One or two t-shirts are enough, and even those are available on the sale racks after the semester ends.

Expensive field trips aren't a necessary for any course. While a Yeats seminar may be enhanced by a trip to Ireland during the off-semester, it's not a requirement. Spring break, similarly, is not a requirement. Instead, head home for the vacation and take some time off of your studies.


Editor's Note: What are your tips for saving money at college? Post them below.


About The Author: Kelly Ann Butterbaugh is a freelance writer who regularly contributes to a variety of magazines as well as online newsletters. She teaches writing in the public school as well as at the collegiate level.


Save Money While You're At College

We used to sell our used text books to each other at the end of the semester. We'd post notices in the halls. Get a pay as you go cell phone to limit minutes and just use it as a PHONE. Get a used lap top/computer rather than a new one. Re-ink your printer cartridges if possible. Save unused/partially used printer paper to print on opposite side. Don't waste your $ on alcohol except when partying on weekends! Get an electric coil to heat water in your room for coffee/tea. Use all the student discounts you can! Read this site and learn to be thrifty! (03/27/2007)


By pamphyila

Save Money While You're At College

Go to a community college your first two years! save so much money.

Also, an idea for parents. let them pay for the first two years. They have to get a job - no loans. If they do this and get good grades, you will see how serious they are. When they are ready to transfer, you step in and help them out. If they can't "handle" school, then they are not ready for it and need a few years to work before they go. And this way you find that out right away rather than after you spent 10 grand on the first year and it's blown by them. (03/27/2007)

By seeme

Save Money While You're At College

For taxes - take advantage of the tuition deduction and tuition credits.

Buy bulk from discount clubs like Costco and split them with dorm/room/suite mates.


Check out prices on Ebay/ - we got a new Toshiba laptop for my husband at half of what it would have cost us at Circuit City (for ebay, make sure the vendor is a PowerSeller with excellent rating)

If you're moving out of a dorm room and need furniture, check out garage sales/goodwill stores

Instead of meeting buddies for drinks at a bar, collect money from house/dorm mates and have a house/dorm party

Have fun


By aw_$mgr96

Save Money While You're At College

My sons buy most of their books online. I can not remember the site. They keep track of what they pay and end up selling the books back online for the same price. Make sure you use Media Mail when shipping books(at the post office) it is a lot cheaper. They sometimes will make even extra money from other kids who do not want to deal with reselling their books by selling their friends' books. The college book store pays very little for buying back books. (03/31/2007)

By Tami

Save Money While You're At College

I think I posted this last year, but before your son/daughter goes to college, go to a nearby college at the end of the semester or year. Go to the dumpsters behind the residence halls. Students cannot move all their furniture so they often will throw away good furniture, and working microwaves and fridges.

Best day to go is the Friday, Saturday, or Sunday before the semester ends. Students will do their cleaning after finals, just before they leave. Be at the dumpster by 8am and wait for students to bring things out. Help them carry the stuff out, and they'll give it to you.

Don't be embarrassed. You're the one saving money, they are the ones racking up student loans.


By bulrush

Save Money While You're At College

As a student in Louisiana, I was able to receive "food stamps", which are the tax-exempt, government supplemented dollars used to purchase all things edible. For years, I thought only low-income, single mothers were eligible. However, as a full-time student working a part time job, I was able to get enough to pay for my "dorm food" while I lived on campus. Once I moved into my own apartment, the allowance increased, and I never have to spend cash on food, which is definitely a blessing! (01/01/2008)


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