Monday, September 8, 2008

Cheap Living for Broke College Students - Part 3

Today we’re wrapping up our Cheap Living for Broke College Students series after talking about transportation and appearances as well as about entertainment. Okay, lets move on to some of the actual school-related costs.

Textbooks
Books are a big deal. Seriously. If you’ve only ever bought books for your reading enjoyment, you’re going to be in for a huge shock when you have to pay for a textbook. Seriously…they aren’t cheap.

The cheapest way to get your textbooks is an awesome site called Textbook Revolt. It is a textbook swapping site for college students across the country. List what you want to give away, list what you want to receive and your only cost is that of the shipping (use Media Mail for the best rate). It’s a growing site, so not everyone can use it yet, but it is certainly worth checking into! Of course, this only really works if you have some to trade, so how do you get them as cheaply as possibly otherwise?

Try Amazon, eBay, or half.com for textbooks. Seriously cheaper prices.

For both of the above methods, make sure you are looking at the correct revision that is called for in your class syllabus.

To get the most back for your books, look at selling them to a friend or even a complete stranger (which I’ve explained how to do before). You’ll get more for it than the bookstore offers and they will get it for cheaper than buying from store. Plus no shipping charges. Win-win, right? If this fails, you can sell it yourself via eBay or half.com.

Study
Am I going to tell you how to study cheap? No…I’m telling you that studying can make college cheaper. How, you ask? Well, I will tell you…

Studying will eat up time that you might be tempted to spend money. And with certain classes, studying can eat up a LOT of time. Also, the more you study = less time in college = less tuition. =) And if you get really good at it, you might can apply for scholarships offered throughout the school through the financial aid department or through your department/college. Lastly, getting good grades can often lower your auto insurance rates. Check with your provider to see if getting good grades can help you out in this way. And when you get out of college, some car dealers offer lower financing to college grads with good grades. All around, studying can certainly be a huge money-saver.

Other costs
Many schools now offer free Wi-Fi across campus, so take advantage of free internet access. Even before free Wi-Fi, we had free access to a number of public computer labs across campus…several open 24 hours a day for all of your surfing needs (I didn’t even own a computer during college due to this…and remember, I have been in college during this very decade, so it is doable).

Sign up for a free checking/savings account that has free internet banking attached. Keep track of your spending daily in order to see where your money is going and how to better control your spending.

Phone service can be acquired cheap (VOIP) or free (Skype) in order to keep track of your buddies that are attending other schools as well as home.

If you school offers a university clinic, like many schools do, you can often get your healthcare for free and/or prescriptions filled for a fraction of the cost of a standard pharmacy. Be sure to check them out.

Childcare may come easy as well. My school had free childcare for the employees and students via the early childhood development department. Yep, you can have free daycare while you are in class while future teachers get to practice on your darling. It’s not as scary as it sounds.

So, although you are currently a broke college student, you don’t have to be as broke as some of your friends. These money-saving techniques can be altered to fit most anyone’s college experience. Keep your nose to the grindstone and your cash in your pocket and when you are raking in the “big money” after graduation, you will know how to wisely save it when you invest in that first mortgage!


Photo credit: cpt.spock & tuxthepenguin84

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