Ways to be Thrifty in College

Saving money in college can be challenging.

Flickr User Rena Tom

Saving money in college can be challenging, especially if you have a shopping habit or expensive taste. However, I can tell you that college is not the time for fancy living. It may be tempting to buy cute, trendy furniture and keep your closet stocked at all times with the latest fashions, but if you regularly buy unnecessary, expensive items in college, the cost can add up after 4 years. Saving money in college and waiting until you are more financially stable to make expensive or frequently recurring purchases will pay off in the long run.  Some people are able to simply not spend money, but that is not the case for everyone. Here are some ways that you can still buy what you need, but make your money go a lot further!

Borrow Furniture and Other Home Items

Before you head off to college, do some asking around to see what furniture and other home items people may be willing to lend you. Often times adults, especially those with older kids of their own who has gone off to college, have extra couches, chairs, kitchen sets, and crock-pots sitting in their basement. You would be surprised how much extra stuff people would be glad to get rid of FOR FREE! Good people to ask are your relatives, friends, co-workers, and friends of the family. Gather as much free or cheap furniture and home goods that you can from your personal network and you could end up saving yourself hundreds of dollars and hours of shopping.

Shop Secondhand

Once you’ve exhausted all of your personal connections, hit the secondhand stores for your college necessities. Secondhand stores offer a wide variety of great items at a much cheaper price. Usually, people think that places like Goodwill, Plato’s Closet, and the Salvation Army only sell clothing, but that’s not true. You can find furniture, artwork, decorations, plates, appliances and so much more! If you’re worried about quality, don’t be! These secondhand stores have high standards for their resale items. Plus, they come at a fraction of their original cost. What could be better?!

Make Products Last as Long as Possible

Saving money on products doesn’t do you a whole lot of good if you have to keep replacing things or buying new products that you have run out of. This applies to basically every item that you own, whether its furniture, technology, clothing or toothpaste. With solid objects such as furniture and technology, make sure that you are kind to them over the years so that you can continue to use them as long as possible or pass them on later.

For example, if you have a wooden dining table that you and your roommates use a lot, use a tablecloth or placemats so that it doesn’t get scratched and spilled on. Regarding toiletries and products that you buy on a regular basis, make them go a long way so that you don’t have to purchase them as often. For example, be mindful of the amount of toothpaste that you use when you brush your teeth so you don’t take more than you need. Also, a helpful tip is to cut the tube in half when you think you’re out. Usually, you can get enough toothpaste out of it to brush your teeth another 5-6 times.

Become a Coupon Master

If you’ve ever seen the show Extreme Couponing on TLC, then you know how much money you can save by using coupons. Of course, you don’t have to excessively coupon like the people on the show, but you can definitely take a page out of their playbook! Take a look in the newspaper for coupons to use at grocery stores, convenience stores or anywhere else that you shop. If you see a product that you typically buy or a similar product that has a coupon, cut it out and take it with you next time you go shopping. If you don’t get the newspaper, but live in a college town, it is likely that you will still get coupons in your mailbox.

Your first instinct may be to throw them away, but don’t! A lot of them have deals for restaurants that you may go to often anyway. Why not save a couple of bucks on your next visit? Aside from mail, there are certainly online coupons and store savings cards that you can use as well. Saving money in college means taking advantage of all these deals, so you save a ton of money over the years!

Another great money-saving tip? Use College Raptor’s free match tool to discover personal college price estimates based on your financial situation!

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