Back to school, huh? You worked your butt off to save money for this new school year and you’re ready! Or, maybe not. Have you considered how many expenses you’ll have? Wait, huh...expenses, you say? Yes, unfortunately being a college student already puts a majority of students in debt (about 70% to be specific), but now you’ll have some fun and not-so fun expenses to put your hard-earned cash towards! You will probably have to think about be school supplies, living supplies, but also your social life expenses, like who can really walk by Urban Outfitters without wanting to look at their new stuff? Even if it’s the sale section! Here’s a short breakdown of what to expect to pay for this year and how you can be the savvy friend everyone is wowed by!
You wake up for your 8am class (who allows this to happen in college?!) and you freak out because you haven’t bought any school supplies! Your teacher decides this is a day to talk about the syllabus and what supplies you need to purchase for this class. As you read over the list, you start imagining your money dwindling 💸. BUT WAIT, you are an intelligent, brilliant college student and you can make this work. Here are ways to combat spendings all your cash on school supplies:
RENTING YOUR TEXTBOOKS
If you haven’t decided on a major and you are still taking your core classes or you have decided but a few classes aren’t your main focus, consider renting your textbooks! Often textbooks range from $75-$400 and you are required to purchase them for each semester you’re in school. That can easily add up to a couple thousand by the end of the school year. In comparison, sites that allow you to rent textbooks for a specific duration are 25-75% cheaper than buying. If you’re in a class that is requiring a textbook and it isn’t a necessity for the continuance of your major, save some space in your bookshelf and save some cash in your wallet by renting. In addition, hit up the upperclassmen that may have purchased that class’s textbooks or check out the library. You can ask your TA or instructor if they know older students selling their books.
NOTEBOOK VS LAPTOPS
Red, Blue, Green - what color suits you? Instead of picking up a new colorful notebook, ask your professors if laptop are allowed in class so you can skip out on buying notebooks for each class. More often than not, your professor will have the presentation online, so you can see if you’re able to follow along or downloading it and take notes using your computer. If your professor doesn’t allow you to use a laptop in class, reflect on the classes you will be taking to plan what notebooks to buy. If you’re in a series class, consider purchasing a bigger, sturdier notebook (yes it will be expensive at first, but better in the long run) so you can continue using that notebook for each part of the series. For instance, I used the same notebook for my three part chemistry series because I knew I’d have to go back to my previous notes anyways and I didn’t want to have to bring three notebooks to the library.
Let’s take a step back to when you moved into your new college dorm or apartment! You most likely have already planned how much money you’ll be putting towards rent and utilities, if you are renting, but have you thought about the sneaky money drainer called living supplies? "But I thought toilet paper was just always stocked in the bathroom?!" Sadly, this isn’t true and now it’s up to you, by yourself or with your roommates to figure out a system to save everyone some cash and still have all the necessities you need.
GenW Story: My mom used to work as a janitor at a college nearby. Every year she noticed that the students would throw away a ton of stuff during move out (furniture, cute dorm decorations, and even TVs!!). So the year before I started college, we would basically go and collect stuff that I liked and was still in great condition. Every year after that, I would go and check out what kind of stuff people were throwing away. You would be surprised all the awesome stuff I would find, especially because so many international students couldn't ship everything home. I managed to save tons of money on all the things I needed for my dorm. Can you say #winning!! - Rusulenni Castro
SHARING IS CARING
If you live with roommates, you have an easier chance of splitting costs with everyone. Figure out what your house needs and if everyone agrees, make a list of everyone in chronological order so everyone knows who they follow in picking up living supplies that are running low. This system will help keep a fair account of who’s buying the most supplies and who’s forking out the most cash. In addition, if you live with roommates, look to grocery shop together to save money on transportation and food! My roommate and I decided instead of buying two of everything that we would share common items; such as, eggs, bread, milk, rice, oatmeal...you get the picture. Some weeks she was going to use some more than I and other weeks vice versa, but by sharing food we ended up wasting much less. If you and your roommates are friendly enough and all of you are looking to save money, think about investing in a system to pick up supplies and share food.
Okay, you and your roommates are buckled in your car or just about to order your Uber, but where are you going to shop? Trader Joe’s has delicious specific items like Orange Chicken, but at Costco you can buy in bulk. Start researching what stores you can save money in. For staple items like eggs, bread, oatmeal, and rice, look to Costco to buy in bulk since you and your roommates will all want a piece of the pie. If you’re looking for produce and fresh fruit, research if your city has a local farmer’s market. Typically farmer’s price to pound is lower than any supermarket.
Whew! What a long day! You went to class, the grocery store, and now you’re preparing for the weekend. What’s your fancy for this weekend? Bars, movies, dinner, or maybe all of the above!? Woah, woah, woah, did you ever think that you could do all those things, but in your house and for cheap? I’m not saying to be a hermit, but there are 52 weeks in a year so you have a good amount of weekends to plan. If you notice that you and your friends are going out for drinks or dinner every weekend, look to purchase a cocktail book or a cook book. My friend and her roommate after a long day would choose a random drink in their book and make it for each other and have plenty of supplies left or would pick a fancy recipe to cook for eachother. Although they had a high upfront cost, in the long run they weren’t spending $10-30 each weekend night. Okay, what about movies...I live in a dorm room…? Did you know most libraries let you rent out a projector and movies? If you have a laptop to connect to it and an empty wall, you can host your friends over for a movie and dinner party. You, of course, can play fancy bartender for the evening.
You’re over making drinks for everyone and cleaning up your house after everyone stops by. I get it, we’re only human. So it’s time to go out! When you and your friends decide to go out for food or drinks, try to research any local deals in your town. For instance, places that have Taco Tuesday or Happy Hour! This means most drinks and tacos are super reduced in price and usually making tacos $2 (um yum)! In addition, Groupon can open your wildest dreams of restaurant you’d never thought you could try. Keep an eye out for these deals!
YOU MADE IT!
Well, what a fun ride that was! You have now learned ways to be financially savvy in both the classroom and your own place! Keep coming back to GenW for more ways to be financially sound.