By Naomi Atwater
According to one study, the average college student spends up to $6,000 every year. Does that figure seem high? This number includes food, entertainment, shopping, hobbies, books, etc. It does not include tuition or room and board expenses.
As you are likely aware, a college student’s expenses seemingly come out of nowhere and add up quickly. Have you ever been frustrated with having to purchase a textbook for $300? Have you ever been baffled by how quickly grocery bills pile up? Do you question how you will afford to replace your laptop soon?
What can you do to lower some of those costs we know will inevitably come up?
1. Buy textbooks used.
Avoid purchasing or renting textbooks at the bookstore when possible. Often, you’ll be able to find them much cheaper when used from another student. Thriftbooks.com and AbeBooks.com also sell used books for discounted prices. Some universities and colleges even hold annual book sales where all of the students can buy and sell their textbooks. And as an additional tip, buying instead of renting your books will save you money because you will then be able to resell them afterward and gain back part of the original cost.
2. Venture to the thrift shop.
Before you hit Target or Amazon, try venturing to your local thrift store! If you’re looking for décor for your dorm, new clothing, bedding, dishes, or craft supplies, your thrift store might have it for much less. Although thrift shopping often involves more time and effort, shopping trips with friends turn into adventures of digging for treasures. I have found countless invaluable items that I use daily: scented candles, bookshelves, coats, sweaters, and much more.
3. Grocery shop strategically if you’re on a meal plan.
You can cut your grocery bill down by thinking about what you already have access to in your cafeteria. If you can get milk, fruit, cereal, or chips from the cafeteria, maybe you don’t need to purchase them from the store. However, you could keep some things on hand that you don’t have access to, such as coffee grounds, granola bars, or some snacks. Is there anything that you could reconsider buying from the grocery store?
4. Invest in a coffee pot.
If you’re like me, you’re tempted to swing by a coffee shop for a pick-me-up almost every day. According to one study, the average cup of coffee from a restaurant is $2.99, and for gourmet coffee shops, it is $4.27. Making your own coffee is, on average, $.27 a cup! Try to make coffee in your dorm room regularly, and consider only buying coffee as a reward or treat on special occasions!
5. Shop around for used or refurbished technology.
Laptops, phones, printers, or any necessary school technology quickly eats up a budget. Unless your major requires top-quality technology, you probably don’t need the latest model or the most expensive brand. Scouring stores and websites for used or refurbished technology reduces the price tag. Some companies and schools will offer education discounts on technology- so make sure you ask when you go to buy!
6. Use your student email address to get discounts.
Subscriptions to various services frequently include discounts for students (such as Amazon Prime, Spotify, Hulu, Adobe Creative Cloud, some cell phone plans, some theater or museum tickets, etc.). Even merely signing up with your school email address (an email address ending in “edu”) will sometimes automatically give you offers for a student discount.
You will be surprised how each of these tips can add up to stretch your budget further!
Editors Note: Naomi Atwater is a junior in college studying communications.