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College savings tips and hacks

It’s that time of year again – Back-to-School Season! It might have been fun shopping when you were a kid, but as a college student, planning for another expense can feel crushing.

With rising tuition fees and hidden charges, if you’re living on a dime it can be hard to know where to start. How can you save money during the college years? Start off with some savvy shopping. Follow these handy tips and hacks to save money during the back-to-school rush.

How to save money when going back-to-school shopping

Take inventory of what you have

Sort through supplies leftover from last year. You would be surprised at how much money you can save by using what you already have on hand.

Reclaim old pens, binders, unused notebooks, and all sorts of other goodies just by checking out your old stuff. Sure, that highlighter may not be completely full, but it still has some life to it. That notebook is still half-full, don’t dismiss it. And, let’s be honest. While it was nice to get a new backpack when it was on your parent’s dime, it really will be fine to haul those books around.

Start Saving by Shopping in the Attic

Cobwebs and your grandmother’s old knick-knacks don’t sound like they make the most appealing atmosphere when it comes to shopping. But, you’ll be surprised what’s hiding right at home! This is an especially great college saving strategy for big-ticket items like furniture for your dorm room or off-campus apartment.

Maybe your parents have a nice sofa they’re planning to part with. Grab it! Do you have any older (or even younger) siblings? Ask them if there’s anything on your shopping list that they have and would be willing to donate to your cause!

Shopping doesn’t equal splurging; it can equal saving too

Not when your budget’s on the line! It’s important to make sure that what you’re buying is what you’re going to be using. Have you ever walked into a department store and saw the cutest (but rather expensive) must-have bedding set, complete with fluffy pillows and a quaint rug?

Before you buy, consider this, do you really need the fancy extras? If those pillows are just going to gather dust, think about buying a smaller set that includes just the essentials. That goes for computers, electronics and just about anything you need; don’t buy the most expensive model if a cheaper one can satisfy the same need and save you money.

Since you’re saving plenty of college cash, make all these savings work harder for you. Numerica’s Bonus Saver account lets you earn 3% Annual Percentage Yield (APY) on qualifying balances. Watch your savings balance grow!

Mother hugging daughter while father loads hatchback car with boxes

Buy Generic or Store Brands

Save a few bucks by skipping on fancy supplies, because really, who’s going to see that $10 tricked-out pencil sharpener? Nobody. So go ahead and opt for the plain/cheap one. Always compare your prices. While you may find some awesome deals at discount stores, their quantity may not be the same, and so you end up paying more.

Budget Book Buys

With another academic year, comes another round of shelling out cash for college textbooks, many of which you’ll toss as soon as your classes are over (if not before).

  • There’s no rule saying you have to buy books at full price! Local used bookstores will often carry textbooks at deep discounts. Plus, you can visit online retailers or search the Internet for websites offering books on a budget.
  • A number of websites let you rent books instead of buying them. At the end of the semester, you return them. It not only keeps your shelves clear of clutter but can be a great cost saver!
  • If a class is going to require multiple books, figure out which ones you will need first. This not only helps to spread out the cost, but you might find that you may not get to all the readings in the class. BOOM! Immediate money saved.
  • Don’t underestimate the value of word-of-mouth shopping. Find a friend or classmate who has already taken the class that’s on your schedule next semester and buy their books!

Talking about budget, have you created one? Complete this budget worksheet to start getting your finances in one place. As you complete the worksheet, take special notice of the “Potential Savings” box. Check the box if there is an opportunity for saving.

Frugal Fashion Savings

Will the fashion police really arrest you if you don’t stock up on the latest styles each fall? Buying an entirely new wardrobe can set you back fast. This year, instead of buying a collection of new shirts, jeans and the whole ensemble, get a few well-chosen accessories to complement your closet staples.

Colorful bracelets and handbags don’t have to be expensive, but they can add a pop of color and excitement even to outdated outfits. If you need that runway look, choose one new piece each season that’s a must-have for your wardrobe and leave the rest on the rack. Mix and match accessories to turn one new shirt into a dozen outfit possibilities!

Find great deals on everything from dorm room essentials to clothes at thrift stores. Many thrift stores support great causes that give back to the community, so it’s a win-win.

Talk to your friends about a clothing swap. A piece that you’ve worn a million times may be a hidden treasure to a friend. Especially if you go to different schools, it is a great way to connect before going back to school, and you never know what “new” pieces you might add to your wardrobe.

Coordinate purchases with your roommate

Consider space and budget with this one! Do you really need two mini-fridges or two microwaves? By coordinating with your roommate you can both save some money. If you are venturing off campus, chat with your roommates about shared room purchases. This not only helps to share costs but opens the conversation to bigger topics like shared utilities, food, etc.

If you find an awesome deal when shopping for back-to-school supplies, you can help support your local school or community club by donating the items at your favorite Numerica branch. Numerica is holding our Back-to-School Supply Drive from now through August 24, 2017.

Related stories:

● Tips and Tricks to living well while spending less 
● Your budget checklist 
● Where does your money go? 

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