It’s almost August, which means it’s time for back-to-school shopping — regardless of whether you’re in kindergarden or in a Ph.D. program.
But most articles discuss school shopping for kids (crayons, anyone?), I wanted to put a little twist in the traditional advice. Here are my back-to-school tips for people who are heading to college or graduate school.
1. Save money on textbooks. A well-known fact about college textbooks: they are insanely expensive. It’s not unusual to spot a textbook that costs $200. But there is a way to save on these ridiculously expensive essential items -check out eBay and Amazon! These sites offer gently used books at half the cost. (When it’s time to sell the books, sell them yourself online instead of trading them in at the bookstore. You’ll fetch a better price.)
2. Hit up the thrift shop. Thrift shops are a treasure trove of gently used items that can be exactly what you need to spruce up a dorm or apartment. Items like area rugs, pillows, and curtains can be found at a fraction of the cost of department stores.
3. Plan out your shopping trip. Before you head out to buy your supplies, set a budget and stick to it. Know the maximum amount that you’re willing to spend. While you are in the store, use an app like Google Scanner to price-compare the cost of basic items.
4. Go to the dollar shop. Dollar stores (where everything costs $1) offer plenty of student supplies like pens, notepads, and binders. Check these stores first before you go anywhere else.
5. Shop late. Instead of shopping for your supplies during the back-to-school season, procrastinate for a few weeks. Shop during the off-season, directly after the sales, when retailers are trying to clear their remaining inventory. Although the variety might be limited, the deals are amazing. It is not uncommon to find prices reduced up to 75% off the original price.
6. Save money on a laptop. “Save” and “laptop” may sound like contradictory terms, but there are ways to save money a major purchase like a laptop. First, find out what basic requirements you’ll need. Shop for a computer with the least amount of space and power, and the fewest “bells and whistles.” If you’re tech-savvy, you might opt for a gently used laptop (but don’t attempt this if you’re not technical enough to troubleshoot!)
7. Shop around for printer paper. Most college and graduate students will be forced to print hundreds of pages worth of essays and homework, so saving money on just this one particular item (printer paper) can really pay off. The easiest way to save money paper is to print essays via the campus printer, assuming your campus allows you to print for free or for a low cost. If you have to print from home, buy paper in bulk and devote a decent chunk of time to shopping around for the cheapest deals. Websites like Froogle.com can help you price-compare.
Kennedi writes about saving money for Face & Fitness.
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.