The time is quickly approaching when students around the country must get ready for school. This process includes buying the necessary supplies and catching up on any summer classwork. Students entering college, or going back, may have more to check off their lists, depending on the school they attend. Those who are living away from home have to properly pack everything they will need for the ensuing nine months.
With a new school year comes the inevitable back to school shopping. Many local stores offer discounts on important items, such as notebooks, pens and pencils. However, college students have more to purchase, sometimes with their own money. Therefore, it is important for them, no matter their age, to look for best deals in order to spend the least amount of money and save throughout the semester.
Look for used
According to The College Board, the average cost of textbooks for students was $1,200 during the 2014-2015 school year. As a comparison, that can very well be two months rent for individuals living off campus with roommates. One textbook alone can cost as much as $200.
In such instances, students need to take advantage of used and free textbooks when possible. There are a few resources to go about this. The most popular is to rent course books from services like Chegg and Amazon, as they often offer six month rentals. Once the semester is over, students return them.
Depending on the coursework, some classes may require materials that have become free. Old novels can be found online or on various virtual bookstores, such as Apple iBooks and Google Play Books. Before heading to the school bookstore and paying full price, students should exhaust every option to find used books. This can even include buying them from friends who may have previously taken the class. The library may also have textbooks available for rental.
Unfortunately, it is not always possible to find used materials. Some of the technical classes that involve complex formulas and equations are specifically designed so students cannot buy textbooks used. This is due to students also having to purchase a workbook containing homework, or an online pass.
Students living off campus will have to purchase Internet packages and pay monthly utility bills. It is much easier to pay for these services with roommates, and even so, it is smart to choose packages carefully. Communication is key, because not every roommate may want cable and it would be a financial waste to get it. Unless everyone is willing to pay more, expensive movie packages should be avoided.
Likewise, Fastweb recommended other shopping habits that will help students save money. Students should try to avoid shopping on an empty stomach, as that hunger will entice them to buy more food than they need. When students do visit the grocery store, they should buy enough food as they can to avoid eating out all the time. Grabbing lunch in between classes may not seem like a huge financial loss, but it adds up.
There will also be those times throughout the fall and spring semesters when students need to make a purchase for important items. This uncertainty means impulse buys should be avoided.
"The average cost of textbooks for students is $1,200."
Scope out the deals
Many colleges have student organizations that host free events throughout the year. Food and other entertainment items are often provided. The Simple Dollar said these events are the perfect time to take advantage of cheap and free entertainment. These events can often be found through online postings or by joining the organizations.
Students are also entitled to a few discounts with their school identification cards. Every campus is different, but common deals may include food discounts and reduced or free transportation on the public transportation system. As part of tuition, students likely receive access to recreational facilities and important health services. After saving money on deals, students should always check their online checking account to ensure everything lines up properly.
In the end, students have to be smart if they wish to save money and still enjoy the college experience. This becomes even more important when living off campus and being more independent. Sometimes saving money means staying in on a Friday night, and that is understandable.
College is a time to obtain an education, have fun and develop habits that will be beneficial later in life.
For more information about smart ways to manage your finances, contact Landmark Bank.
Back to Blog