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Saving Money in College

Tips for saving money in college as suggested by our ThriftyFun community. Do you have any advice to share? Feel free to post your ideas below.

Amazon For Textbooks

I've found to be a wonderful resource for buying and selling textbooks! At the end of the term, its always good to compare the $ you'll get between the bookstore and what's lowest seller price is (you'll want to undercut them to make sure you sell quickly). The occasions when you can get more in the bookstore are rare, but the possibility exists and is more likely with textbooks.


By djinn

Meal Plans And Transfer Credits

Like the other poster said, buying used textbooks online is the easiest way to save money in college. Also, I found that the meal plans offered by most colleges give you far too many meals - buy a plan geared toward commuters and keep cereal and milk or snacks in a small fridge in your room. And last, check to see if any courses taken at local community colleges will transfer equally to your school. CC's are far cheaper per credit and you'll still graduate with a degree from your college.

By Trisha R

Buy Used

Shop for all room decor and clothing, if you can, at your more upscale Goodwill and Salvation Army. See if there is a used book store on campus. Much easier way to save money, join and for your area to swap things out, etc! Hope that helps. This will save a bundle!

Be Wary Of Credit Cards

Campuses are notorious for having credit card companies trying to get students to sign up, often with free gifts or other incentives. Often times, these deals are very high interest because most college students don't have much credit yet. It took me years to pay off an impromptu Discover card I opened and used my first year at college.

By Jess

Tips For Saving A Little At A Time

Always buy used textbooks when you can and resell them once the class is over. As another poster wrote, check out some of the thrift shops in your area for clothing, decor, books, movies, games, kitchen stuff, furniture,etc. Also check out garage sales. Get over brand names! I find that I can make my own cleaning products, bath/body products, and "grocery/snack" Items for way cheaper and they work or taste way better than their overpriced counter parts. Also, even if you are in a dorm, invest in a mini fridge, microwave, and coffee pot/hot tea maker. You will save a lot of money by making your own coffee/tea, buying your own drinks, and keeping other food/snacks on hand.


By tthompson

Work For The College To Save

I work at a small private college that offers free tuition for employees and their dependents after working there a year. The smaller private schools often have evening and weekend programs which is really convenient. If you want a free education considering checking employment opportunities at your local private college.

By Katie

Get Free Furniture And Other Tips

My middle daughter has been out of college many years and our youngest is living at home while attending college but I do remember some important lessons we had with our middle daughter. At the end of a semester, some kids would 'throw out' their furniture (love seats, pillows etc.). She would latch on to them and either sell them at a garage sale upon coming home or keep them for the next year.

Even after she and her husband were married and living in another state university town, they were moving back to Ohio and went to the dumpster. There, in perfect condition, was a futon with cushion. They still have it after 7 years of marriage. I told a friend recently that instead of hauling furniture back check to see if it could go into 'storage' for a couple of months till school started again in the fall.

Also, clean the room after the student moves out - I found $40 in change that they wouldn't pick up due to tails up - foolishness! It all spends. I thanked them for 'paying' me to clean their room :). Our youngest daughter is staying at home and I feel will be saving money.

By Nancy

Save On Housing By Being An RA

Most colleges allow residence assistants or dorm "mothers" and "fathers" free tuition up to 12 or 15 hours a semester. They also get free housing. This is a great way to learn responsibility, meet new people, and basically go to school for free. Most schools also even allow this during the summer school months.

Become Financially Responsible

Save all your loose change. I know it might sound silly but I've done this for years and although I don't really need to turn to it now, there were several times it very much came in handy during my "salad days."

Take a personal finance class. Whether or not you need it for your major, it can be a great resource for helping you learn about many different aspects of managing your finances now and later. Read "Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in your Twenties and Thirties" by Beth Kobliner.

If you can, use cash instead of a debit card. Set a limit for how much you will spend each week, take out only that amount and stick to it. Write down every single purchase you make from a tank of gas to a textbook to a gum ball.

If you have the space in your room or apartment, make your own coffee. Instead of bottled water, buy a filtered pitcher and pour water into a reusable container. It's amazing how much these two items alone can cost when purchased at a restaurant or vending machine. Brown bag if you can. Buy small re-freezable lunch coolers and reusable plastic containers to tote whatever you like to munch on.

Sometimes I was able to save on textbooks by requesting them from the campus library. We could check them out for an entire semester so why not? I wasn't always successful but I'm sure it saved me at least a few hundred bucks overall, especially considering the cost of books!

I also sometimes borrowed textbooks from classmates and photo-copied the pages I needed for a course. Of course you have to weigh the cost of that vs. the cost of the book but oftentimes you come out ahead. (I'm sure we've all had a class or two that required a textbook where we read only a few pages.)

By BarbaraCollins08


Saving Money in College

Before you go the photocopy route, check the laws where you live, governing this. Books are copyrighted and you may be breaking the law, which could lead to expulsion from your school! (06/20/2008)


By catastrofy

Saving Money in College

Most students sign up for the meal plan with the smallest number of meals. They say they don't eat all of their meals in the cafeteria. Breakfast is often cereal or a breakfast bar in their room, for example. (06/21/2008)

By SusannL

Saving Money in College

If you are buying used textbooks be sure you are ordering the same edition that is being used in the class. You don't want to buy the 11th edition if the rest of the class is using the 12th edition. You won't have the same information. (06/21/2008)

By SusannL

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