8 ways to find deals on the most expensive college necessities
It’s an established fact that college tuition is expensive. But unfortunately, college students can wrack up a long list of other expenses — from dorm lodging to text books — without developing better spending habits or finding ways to stick to a budget.
Let this guide help you to stop spending so much money on top of your student loans. Here are ways to save money on some of the more expensive things you have to buy in college.
Find the best deal on textbooks through BigWords.
The price of college textbooks has risen more than four times the rate of inflation, according to Student Public Interest Research Groups — a 76 percent increase since 2007.
To find the best deal on a given book, and decide whether to rent, buy new, or buy used, try using BigWords, a useful site that compares multiple used book-selling sites to find you the cheapest option.
You can also try to buy a used textbook from a former student on campus, or find it in your school’s library, which will likely carry all the required textbooks for that semester. You probably won’t be allowed to take it out for the entire term, but you can photocopy relevant readings.
Use all the food in your kitchen efficiently with Supercook.
Food is another big-ticket spending category, but you can easily lower your costs per meal.
If you have a hodge podge of ingredients in your fridge and no idea what to make, check out Supercook. On that website, you can enter whatever ingredients you have at home, and it will scan major recipe sites (AllRecipes, Martha Stewart, etc) and suggest dishes you could make.
It’s a great way to cut down on food waste while also making the most of what’s in your fridge.
Of course, if you have access to a kitchen, you could consider ditching the dining plan altogether, since it’s probably cheaper to cook on your own. And if you do buy a plan, always get the cheapest one. You can always add more points later.
Use PadMapper to find apartments with reasonable rents.
Living in the dorms with makes it easy to socialize, but once you’re in your second or third year, sharing an off-campus apartment with several roommates will likely prove to be cheaper. And you’ll have a kitchen, which helps cut down on food costs.
To find an apartment, seek out renal sites like PadMapper or Rentlogic. Unlike Craigslist, which can be hard to filter through, PadMapper maps out the available apartments with their rents. And RentLogic can tell you if a property is up to code so you don’t wind up with a slumlord. College housing Facebook groups — even for other nearby colleges — are also a good place to look for deals.
Buy used furniture on Trove.
If you’re in a college town, you might not realize that you live in an ecosystem of perpetually traded hand-me-downs. And there are plenty of apps that can help you take advantage of that.
Trove lets you sell and buy used furniture, electronics, kitchen appliances, and decor. It has an easy to use interface that you can use to message offers and confirm transactions through credit card. Definitely a step above sending a stream of Craigslist emails.
Rent a bike using SpinLister.
If you want to ride a bike occasionally but don’t want to buy a new one, you can rent a nearby person’s bike using a site called SpinLister. It functions like Airbnb, but for bikes rather than rooms or apartments. You can keep it for just a couple days and return it once you don’t need it anymore.
SpinLister is also a good way to try out cycling around campus before you invest in a bike of your own. If you find you like it, buying a used bike will probably cost less than a semester’s worth of train tickets or car insurance payments. And chances are, there’ll be a thriving market of used bikes around that you can check out on Craigslist or Facebook.
If biking isn’t your thing, get a discounted train or bus pass.
If you don’t feel safe biking, seek out discount train passes through your school. They’ll likely have semester-long passes for students that are a fraction of the regular price.
Use Unidays to get student discounts online.
If you’re shopping for clothes or electronics online, use the student discount portal Unidays to search around. Unidays helps you find educational deals at Levi’s, Apple, and more.
You can register using your .edu email or by logging into your college’s login page.
And don’t forget to take full advantage of your student ID.
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Your student ID will get you perks at lots of retail stores, movie theaters, restaurants, and museums — enjoy it while you can.
Ask your student activities office about where you can get student discounts, and always take the extra couple of seconds to ask before buying anything, from clothes to concert tickets — the worst that can happen is they say no.