Saving Money on Your College Essentials

Heading off to college this year? With high school graduation just around the corner, you’ll have one last summer before you head off for an exciting new chapter. But during your summer of fun, you’ll want to make sure that you spend some time planning for college and making sure you’ve got everything you need.

Getting your college essentials can be expensive, especially if you’re on a budget. But this guide will help you save money on your college essentials ready to begin your freshman year in style.

529 College Savings Plan

Saving on bedding and other textiles

It’s no secret that college beds aren’t the most comfortable, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make things a bit more homely. You can start by investing in some affordable bedding that will keep you warm at night without breaking the bank. Some great places to buy your bedding include Amazon, Urban Outfitters and of course, Bed, Bath and Beyond. Bedding is something that always ends up on sale, so you should be able to pick up some great bargains.

By saving money on some of the basic items like a comforter and bedding sets, you can afford to splurge on some luxuries like extra pillows, or a mattress topper. It might not be like your bed at home, but you’ll soon be able to make it feel like yours.

Bargain books

Buying books is more expensive than it sounds, and in college, you’re going to need a lot of them. You should look up your reading list in advance to make sure you have everything you need in time for orientation.

More and more books are starting to become available as eBooks, which will help you save money and space, but you’ll need to resort to the classic hardback version for many books. Subjects like law are particularly book-heavy, so you need to look at ways you can save money on what can be some expensive essentials.

Some tips on buying cheap college textbooks include:

  • Buy from friends/family who might have bought the books previously – they’ll be glad to make some money back, and you can buy the books much cheaper
  • Buy used textbooks online. Even those that are previous editions will still contain most of what you need for your subject.
  • Loan from the library – if you’re lucky, you might just get in there before everyone else. Just make sure you return/renew on time to avoid any fines!

While buying books can be expensive, there are different ways to bring the costs down. Once you’re done with them, sell them on while they’re still in demand.

Finding the best laptop for your needs

A computer is now a college essential. Not only will you need it for assignments, but you’ll also want one for entertainment – who brings a TV to college anymore? But like most bits of technology, a laptop can be expensive. You’ll need to make sure that the laptop you choose is reliable and does everything you need it to be.

If you only need a computer for browsing the internet and using a word processor, you’ll be able to shop at the budget end of the scale. Even the cheapest laptops can perform some great functions, allowing you to watch Netflix on a crystal clear screen in between researching your next paper.

The next question you’ll need to ask yourself is if you want to go down the Mac or Windows route. There are pros and cons of both, and even though Mac tend to be on the more expensive side of things, you can save money by taking advantage of student prices or buying a refurbished model.

Macs are great for resisting viruses and for longevity, and it’s easy enough to learn basic functions like how to edit PDF files on a Mac or creating databases through online tutorials. Windows, however, remain a classic choice, so it completely depends on your personal preferences.

Use your student discounts

One of the great things about being a college student is discounts. From discounted movie tickets to save on clothes and other items, you can make life a little easier for yourself by taking advantage of these discounts. It’s worth downloading a list of student discounts to keep to hand so that you can see where you can get those savings.

Student discounts can be used for more practical things than just buying clothes and accessories online. They can be used for insurance, getting cell phone contracts, internet contracts and more. And one other thing to remember – if you don’t ask, you don’t get, so it’s always worth asking a store, restaurants, hair salon, etc. if they offer a discount for students.

Making the most of meals

Budgeting for meals is one of the most difficult parts of adjusting to college life. If you’re living in a dorm with a meal plan, you should make sure that you take advantage of it. Otherwise, you’re adding to your expenses for no reason.

If, however, you’re not on a meal plan, you need to think about managing your spending while also making sure that you eat well. It’s tempting to eat junk when you’re studying for tests or up all night reading for class, but this won’t do your energy (or waistline) any favors. Some of the ways you can save money on food in college include planning your meals, and batch-cook foods so that cooking for one doesn’t feel like too much of an effort.

College can provide you with some fast lessons about managing your finances, but by saving on those essentials, you can get college life off to a great start. If you’re concerned about how much money you’re going to have to live on, you can look at some extra ways to make money in college to help you get by. It’s easier than you might think to save some money, and the budgeting lessons you learn now will continue to benefit you in the future.

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