dorms en-US 9 Freshman Shopping Tips to Cut College Costs <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-freshman-shopping-tips-to-cut-college-costs" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="College freshman using shopping tips to cut costs" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Strapped for cash as a freshman? If not now, you will be soon. That goes double for your parents, who are likely footing a portion of the bill &mdash; from tuition to room and board to all the living essentials you'll need when you move into the dorm. To make the transition from high school to college just a little easier on the wallet for both you and your obligatory benefactors, here are a few ways to cut costs as you head into the first year of university.</p> <h2>1. Don't Buy What You Already Own</h2> <p>At the beginning of every school year, students get a list of suggested (and some mandatory) supplies that they'll need for the year. The good news for you is that you've been in school for 12 years now, and you probably already have more than a few things on the freshman list. That means you don't need to spring for new items if the ones you already own are in good condition.</p> <p>&quot;The extensive list of recommended dorm room essentials will make your head spin and your wallet disappear,&quot; money-saving expert Andrea Woroch quips. &quot;While some suggested items like 'bedding to fit an extra long twin mattress' are necessities, items like towels, hangers, and pillows can likely be packed from home.&quot;</p> <p>Also, use common sense and identify items you can cross off the list indefinitely, like a drying rack for laundry (you can hang your clothes around the room) and any stand-alone device that's also in your phone: alarm clock, camera, calculator, MP3, etc.</p> <h2>2. Split Big-Ticket Costs With Your Roommate(s)</h2> <p>If you want a few conveniences of home in your dorm room &mdash; like a fridge or microwave &mdash; considering going halfsies with your roommate(s). Contact your roommates ahead of time to discuss those big-ticket purchases that will be shared among everyone, and how to effectively split the cost. Consider downloading a bill-splitting app to simplify this process. (See also: <a href="">5 Modern Ways to Split the Bill</a>)</p> <h2>3. Stock Up on Penny Deals</h2> <p>&quot;When it comes to basic school supplies like pens, notebooks, folders, and sticky notes, it's best to search for penny deals offered during the back-to-school shopping rush and watch for rotating discounts every week,&quot; Woroch suggests.</p> <p>I've seen these types of deals at several popular retailers lately, including Target, Wal-Mart, and Staples, though they're not limited to these stores. Hit them at the right time and you'll walk away with much of what you'll need for classes &mdash; pens, pencils, notebooks, and more &mdash; for just few bucks. You also can access circulars online or via the&nbsp;<a href="">Flipp app</a> for quick comparison.</p> <h2>4. Treat Your Old Wardrobe Like It's Brand-new</h2> <p>Everybody loves to go back-to-school clothing shopping. Heck, I'm 35-years-old and I still use this time of year as an excuse to freshen up my wardrobe. If you're on a tight budget, however, consider that your existing wardrobe will be brand-new to everyone at college since nobody has ever seen you before. If you <em>must</em> add a few new pieces to your closet, shop end-of-season sales, clearance sections, or pop into a few secondhand shops (some of which can be found online today).</p> <h2>5. Eat Where It's Free or Discounted</h2> <p>When I was in college, my friends and I had a propensity for buying late-night pizza or bingeing on junk food in our rooms all hours of the day. The problem with this strategy (besides its quick contribution to your Freshman 15) is that it costs a lot of money.</p> <p>To trim some of this expense, eat most of your meals in your cafeteria and take small items back to your room for later, like fruit, bagels, chips, or fixings for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Or, if you're super stealthy, bring an empty food storage container and confiscate heartier meals, like chicken fingers, salads, and your other favorites to scarf down when the cafeteria is closed. If you do plan to go out to eat, identify nights that are easy on your wallet, including half-price apps at happy hour, student nights, and special dish night, like 25-cent wing night or the like.</p> <h2>6. Rent Your Textbooks Instead of Buying Them</h2> <p>Before you buy your textbooks outright, I want you to ask yourself one question: What will you do with that book when the course is over? Your answer is nothing &mdash; except sell it back for a mere fraction of the price you originally paid. And that's if you can even sell it back at all. Publishers are really great at &quot;updating&quot; textbooks and discontinuing previous editions so that the school can require you to purchase the latest version. Because what're you going to do, drop out of school? Uh huh &mdash; they've got you right where they want you.</p> <p>Alas, two can play that game. Woroch explains.</p> <p>&quot;It's no surprise that textbooks represent the biggest line item in your college budget,&quot; she says. &quot;The National Association of College Stores (NACS) estimates the average student spends $655 on these study essentials every year. To save big bucks, skip the overpriced campus store and head straight to an online textbook rental site such as&nbsp;<a href="">Chegg</a> and&nbsp;<a href="">Campus Book Rentals</a> to save over 70%. To ensure you're not slapped with any fees at the end of the semester, keep the book in pristine condition and avoiding highlighting or marking up the margins.&quot;</p> <h2>7. Go Grocery Shopping in Groups</h2> <p>Need to stock up on groceries? Get a group together &mdash; which is especially helpful for those who don't have vehicles on campus &mdash; and charge a couple bucks per person for gas. At the store, buy the things you'd like for yourself, but go in equally for items that may be shared by the group, like cereal, coffee, chips, and ramen.</p> <h2>8. Use Your Student ID Everywhere You Go</h2> <p>One of the best parts of being a student is using the student discount wherever it's available. I kept my student ID for years after college, and that granted me savings on clothing, movies, food, electronics, and more for years well past its prime. Of course, you should take advantage of it while you're in college, too. As a general rule of thumb, before you purchase anything anywhere, ask if they offer a student discount. Many establishments do, and that simple question will keep more money in your pocket.</p> <h2>9. Search for Open Box or Refurbished Electronics</h2> <p>In a recent survey, the National Retail Federation found that many colleges and universities require incoming and current students to bring their own computers, so a new laptop is likely on the top of your shopping needs. Instead of investing in the newest and most expensive model, search for open box or refurbished options. Best Buy typically has open box items set up on their salesroom floor, while online vendors such as&nbsp;<a href="">Newegg</a> have webpages dedicated to these lower-priced options with discounts on open box laptops ranging from 10% to 40%. Apple also offers refurbished MacBooks and iPads, so always check these options before you buy.</p> <p><em>Are you heading into your freshman year of college, or have a kid who's starting their freshman year? How are you saving on supplies and other essentials? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">8 Money-Saving Hacks Every College Student Should Try</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">8 Ways College Students Can Save Money Before Class Starts</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Upromise World MasterCard Credit Card Review</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">How to Earn $1,000 a Month or More as an Online Tutor</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">101 Ways to Save Money on Clothes</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Education & Training Shopping back-to-school classes clothes college discounts dorms freshmen roommates students supplies textbooks Thu, 18 Aug 2016 10:30:07 +0000 Mikey Rox 1773246 at Dorm Room Essentials <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dorm-room-essentials" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Girls in a dorm room" title="Girls in a dorm room" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="176" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Well, the time has finally arrived &mdash; you&rsquo;re packing for college. Freedom, adventure, shenanigans, and (hopefully) a crap-ton of learning and growing await you during these next four years.</p> <p>So, what are you taking with you? Don't say &quot;my blanky.&quot;</p> <p>What you pack for college depends a great deal on where you are going for college. Big university in the middle of a city or tiny college in the middle of nowhere? Does your dorm permit you to have a mini-fridge and microwave in your room? These are questions that need to be answered before you start shopping to outfit your new home. Your college or university should provide you with living information ahead of time, but you're still left deciding what you can't live without and what you can afford to leave behind in your old bedroom. And heaven forbid you should get stuck without something you really need while attending some idyllic liberal arts college in the middle of Western Massachusetts, because you'll either shell out big bucks at the student store or have to go without.</p> <p>There are many things that make for a killer dorm room, like plants, well-designed politician posters, and a rug that really ties the room together. This is not an article about those things, because this is meant to outline the bare minimum that you can take with you while living comfortably in a college dorm.</p> <h2>Where to Shop</h2> <p>What's the best place to get good prices on your college essentials? Probably the same places to get best prices on anything else &mdash; Costco, Sam's Club, Walmart, Target, and K-Mart. Avoid buying stuff from the catalogs that colleges send out in the summer, and don't fall for the idea that your dorm room has to include a theme or any particular element that you don't think is necessary. Also, if you can manage to keep it spare and spartan during your freshman year, you can score tons of free stuff at the end of the term when seniors move out and dump all of their stuff for you to pick through (freegans rejoice!). (See also: <a href="">College Move Out Days: The Best Time to Dumpster Dive?</a>)</p> <h2>Sleepy Time Stuff</h2> <p class="MsoNormal">Sleep is so incredibly important during your college years. However, getting a good night's sleep when suddenly faced with a room-sharing situation can be tough. To help you catch all the necessary Zs, make sure to pack the following:</p> <h4>Ear Plugs (cost varies; $20 for 200)</h4> <p>Your roommate is guaranteed to either snore or receive very loud phone calls at 2 a.m. from his mother in Croatia (or both). Soft, foam ear plugs are going to allow you to largely ignore middle-of-the-night convos while still being able to hear your alarm ring in the morning.</p> <h4>Sleep Mask ($5-10)</h4> <p>There are going to be times in college where you are going to need to catch some shut-eye even when the sun is out or your roommate is cramming for an exam with the light on until 3 a.m. This is where a sleep mask will save you from a life of sleep deprivation.</p> <h4>Alarm Clock (varies)</h4> <p>If you have a mobile phone, you can its alarm clock to wake up in time for 8:00 a.m. Spanish (why, why did you sign up for 8:00 a.m. Spanish?), or you can buy a full-fledged alarm clock that will wake you up with soothing sounds or your favorite music.</p> <h4>Foamy Mattress Cover ($44-100)</h4> <p>Unless you are attending a college of chiropractic medicine, chances are that your dorm bed is going to suck. Find out ahead of time what size mattress you will have (twin, probably) and purchase a memory-foam mattress pad. It&rsquo;ll be nice and cozy and will separate your tender spine from those metal springs by a few inches of soft, wonderful foam.</p> <h4>Sheets ($20 and up)</h4> <p>Some dorms provide sheets, others don't. But even if they do, you want to bring your own, don't you? Don't go for anything fancy, just two sets of simple sheets that will fit whatever size bed your college is forcing you to use.</p> <h2>Personal Care</h2> <p>Grooming is especially important during your college years. It might not be consistent, but it&rsquo;s important. You should shower at least once a week, is my point.</p> <h4>Shower Caddy/Tote ($10-20)</h4> <p>Common showers? Unless your dorm provides lockers (they might), you&rsquo;re probably going to want a shower caddy to tote your toiletries to and fro. Plastic is easy to clean and doesn&rsquo;t rust, but metal is less likely to get moldy. There are even fabric or plastic mesh versions now, should you care to simply toss your tote through the wash after every few uses.</p> <h4>Bathrobe ($10 and up)</h4> <p>Bathrobes are indispensable in college. You can&rsquo;t be expected to get totally dressed on your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.</p> <h4>Flip-Flops/Shower Shoes ($1 and up)</h4> <p>Unless you are lucky enough to have a dorm room with a private shower, you&rsquo;re probably going to have to deal with communal showering situations, which are often rife with bacteria. Avoid athlete&rsquo;s foot and general grossness with a good pair (or two) of shower-ready flip-flops. You can bring as many pairs with you as you like, but reserve one pair specifically for shower use.</p> <h4>Slippers ($10 and up)</h4> <p>Although your flip-flops can double as slippers for schlepping around the dorm, you might want a pair of warm slippers if your school happens to be in a cooler clime.</p> <h4>Towels ($5 and up)</h4> <p>Most colleges don&rsquo;t provide towels. You will need a minimum of two body towels and two hand towels. Washcloths are a personal preference (I never liked them).</p> <h4>Body Wash ($2 and up)</h4> <p>Under normal circumstances, soap is a more frugal buy than body wash. But when you have to tote your shower essentials back and forth and store shower stuff in plastic buckets, body wash is a scum-free alternative to bar soap.</p> <h4>Extra Razors (godawful amount of money)</h4> <p>If you shave, buy your razors in bulk ahead of time. Costco, your local dollar store, or Walgreens are good places to find deals on razor refills.</p> <h4>Feminine Products (varies)</h4> <p>Obviously for the ladies only; stockpile everything you will need for approximately nine months of menstruation, and then pack some more because you will make instant friends with other women who come to you in the middle of the night in desperate need of a tampon.</p> <h2>Laundry</h2> <p>Laundry facilities will vary from place to place, but chances are that you will find yourself doing laundry more often than you like in college.</p> <h4>Laundry Basket or Bag (from $10)</h4> <p>Traditional laundry baskets take up a lot of horizontal space, so seek out baskets that are tall and have a small footprint. Sturdy laundry bags that hang on a light aluminum frame are also a good option.</p> <h4>Detergent ($13 and up)</h4> <p>Detergent is expensive if purchased anywhere outside of Costco or Sam&rsquo;s Club. If you possibly can, buy one or two massive drums of the stuff at the beginning of the year, and ration it carefully. Powder detergent is a more frugal option than liquid detergent, but it&rsquo;s also less useful in rickety old dorm washing machines.</p> <h4>Dryer Sheets ($4 and up)</h4> <p>Easier to store than fabric softener, dryer sheets can be reused at least once each.</p> <h4>Rolls of Quarters</h4> <p>I imagine that many colleges now have advanced laundry systems that allow you to use credit cards, student IDs, or other means to pay for your laundry, but many millions of years ago when I was in school (1999), quarters were where it was at. And I happened to go to a school that shall remain nameless (Mount Holyoke College) where obtaining enough quarters to do a month&rsquo;s worth of laundry was pretty much like pulling teeth, only less pleasant and occasionally with more bloodshed. My mother, bless her heart, used to send me rolls of quarters in her occasional care packages. Get a couple hundred dollars worth before setting out and hoard any that you come across when getting change, and you&rsquo;ll be fine.</p> <h2>Miscellaneous</h2> <p>It's always the little things that make life less stressful &mdash; realizing that you have what you need to run minor errands, like a bus pass and a decent pair of socks. Here are some minor items that make dorm life more tolerable.</p> <h4>Waste Basket ($5 and up)</h4> <p>Most college dorms provide at least one waste basket, but you can never have too many baskets to stash things in.</p> <h4>Desk Fan ($12 and up)</h4> <p>Fans are a godsend for muggy climes with no air conditioning and for drowning out the sounds of a snoring roommate.</p> <h4>Stamps (varies)</h4> <p>You will occasionally have to mail something in college. A pack of Forever stamps will take you far. The same goes for envelopes. Buy them now, as they will cost a million times more at the student bookstore. You might want to consider printing out your own return address labels.</p> <h4>Surge Protector/Power Strip ($5 and up)</h4> <p>It&rsquo;s amazing how few outlets you will find in a 15 ft. x 15 ft. bedroom. A surge protector will offer extra places to plug in your lamp/laptop/cell phone charger.</p> <h4>Medicine</h4> <p>It sort of goes without saying that you will need to bring any and all prescription medicines with you while away from home.</p> <h4>Documents and Filing System</h4> <p>Bring any and all documentation that you might need for filing financial aid paperwork, to get a job, or to pay your bills. It's unlikely that you will need a full file cabinet &mdash; an accordion file should suit you just fine.</p> <h4>Condoms</h4> <p>Hey, better safe than sorry, right? Even if you don&rsquo;t personally get the opportunity to get (safely) busy, you can bet that a roommate or friend will probably be grateful for your prophylactic stash.</p> <h2>Learnin&rsquo; and Technical Stuff</h2> <p>Books and computers are expensive, but the advent of the technical age means that many books are now in electronic format, making a computer a worthwhile investment. How many other peripherals you need depends largely on your ability to plan ahead.</p> <h4>Computer ($300 and up)</h4> <p>Some colleges have well-apportioned computer labs at your beck and call 24/7; others are a little stingier. It&rsquo;s obviously more convenient to have your own computer in college, because you can use it for note-taking, loading e-books, writing papers, and keeping in touch with everyone you left behind when you went to college. How MUCH of a computer you settle on depends on budget and major &mdash; if you plan to work with graphic design, a netbook is not going to cut it. But if you&rsquo;re a Lit major or taking Asian Studies, you can probably get by with a lightweight, inexpensive netbook or even an iPad.</p> <h4>Printer and Paper ($50 and up)</h4> <p>Computer labs usually offer printing services, but the price can vary. Printers are so cheap these days that it almost makes sense to buy your own and keep it on hand for days when you need to print a term paper but don&rsquo;t have time to wait in line behind 20 other students. If you do have your own printer, be sure to bring enough paper.</p> <h2>Food and Snacks</h2> <p>Keeping yourself armed with edibles that can stand the test of time is a good way to avoid splurging on late-night Denny's runs (not that you shouldn't EVER hit Denny's at 2 a.m.). If preparedness leads to savings, then having a well-stocked snack pantry is practically the key to your vault of gold.</p> <h4>Dried Fruit and Nuts (varies)</h4> <p>It helps to hit up <a href="">Trader Joe's</a> on your way to college and stock up on dried fruit and flavored nuts, which will get you through many a late-night cram session. Go easy on the dried fruit, though. Peanut butter is also a fantastic source of energy that is easy to store.</p> <h4>Ramen ($0.50/pack)</h4> <p>Ramen is the answer to all of life's woes. If you can find a nice, cheap electric kettle for your room, all the better. Another option here is a rice cooker, if you are a big fan of rice or the <a href="">one-pot meal</a>. If you're not a carb-lover, investing in a big stash of beef jerky can be a wise choice, even if it is on the pricey side.</p> <h4>Coffee and Tea (varies)</h4> <p>Having your own stash of coffee and tea will not only help keep you awake when you suddenly remember that you have a paper on the early Islamic caliphates due in the morning, but also makes for some good socializing time with new roommates and friends. Buy a decent selection of tea (black, green, chamomile), offer a warm cup to any homesick co-ed, and you've got a friend for life.</p> <p><em>Are you heading for college? What are you bringing with you? What do you think you can live without?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Andrea Karim</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">The 5 Best Eye Masks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Micro-Prepping: How to Prepare for Small Disasters</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">The 5 Best Resistance Bands</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">25 Thoughtful and Frugal Personalized Gift Ideas</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">The 5 Best Beach Tents</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Lifestyle Shopping college expenses college frugality dorms Fri, 26 Aug 2011 09:48:17 +0000 Andrea Karim 669953 at