Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Saving Money on College

I just came across this article with 15 tips on saving money at college and I thought, "I can save even more money than the ideas listed!"  Obviously I am not busy enough...  But here are some ideas anyway:

  1. Books.  Grovel on reddit or Craigslist for cheap books, rent, or borrow.  My first year at college I bought all new books, the second year I bought all used books, the third year I would borrow the books I needed from the library or from classmates for a quick read (I remember everything I read so I never had to take notes or highlight stuff or anything like that).
  2. Supplies.  Hit up the late July/early August school supply sales at Walmart and other stores.  If you are really worried (like pre med classes) email the professor or former students of the class and ask about special supplies you might need.
  3. School branded clothing.  I see UNLV gear every week at our local Goodwill.  Hit up local thrift stores for school branded clothes.
  4. Banking.  Find a no-fee bank or credit union and open your own savings/checking account (these can often be found through parents--their employer may let employee's kids open their own account; based on where you live--Podunk credit union--which you can use no matter where you go to school with internet banking; or close to college).  I also never recommend linking accounts with others (including parents).  For emergencies there is always Western Union.
  5. Food.  I worked at restaurants all through college and ate maybe 75% of my meals there for free.  That saved A LOT of money.
  6. Credit cards.  NO.  Just no.  Debit card is good.
  7. Freebies.  YES. Always ask for a discount and take up free/cheap hobbies (better yet, if you like tennis, for example, get on the tennis team and get a scholarship to help pay for college).  Between work, school, and tennis practice you will be too tired to go out partying at the local bars and spending your money.
  8. Home entertainment.  Get a small TV with an over the air antenna if you must but otherwise, work and study should take up so much time you don't have time for movies and 60" TVs.
  9. Cell phones.  TMobile has a $30 unlimited text/data and 100 talk minute plan.  That is a great plan for students who don't talk much anyway.
  10. Computers.  A $300 Toshiba from Best Buy should last you all four years of college and beyond.  A new Macbook Air should only be used if it was given to you for free as a gift.
  11. Printers.  When we were traveling I rarely printed anything.  If I did need to print something I could do it for a dime or so at the local library or have a friend print it out for me.
  12. Budget.  If you can work all summer, use the glob of money you earn to pay a year's worth of cell phone payments, and divide up the rest by nine months of school.  If that only leaves you with $100 each month for nine months you should probably get a part time job.
  13. Budgeting apps.  I like pen and paper better but to each his own.
  14. Ask for gifts.  A good idea but the best gift would be going to university near home where you can live with the folks for free and get meals from grandma on a regular basis.  You will save a ton of money this way.
  15. Scholarship.  Yes.  Apply for any and every scholarship you qualify for.  A two hour application which nets you $2000 for school pays you a wage of $1000 per hour!  
And five other things:
  1. If you can get by without a car you will save A TON of money.  Bring a bike instead.
  2. Be leery of roommates and signing apartment leases with others.  Most of these situations implode and leave all involved with a bunch of debt, collections, etc.  Better to rent a room from an elderly lady with a big, empty house near campus if necessary.  Even better is to trade work for rent if possible.
  3. Don't ever co-sign for anyone!  Not your college roommate, not your best friend, not your new, cute SO.
  4. Think of college as a job and not a last opportunity to party for four years straight.  Your job is to get through college as quickly as possible with as little expense as possible.
  5. Don't take out student loans.  Extreme yes, but on the flip side, many students who do take out massive loans leave college with extreme debt and low-wage jobs which is a horrible way to start out your adult life.  If you must, start at community college and pay as you go.  It may take longer but leaving school with no debt is a rarity and the best way to launch yourself into the world of work.

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