Campus Cope: Saving money as a college student

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College is expensive, there’s no way around spending money. However, there are some tips and tricks to cut down on how much money you spend. There are four main areas where money can be saved: furniture and decor, clothing, food and school supplies. 

When it comes to furniture and decor, there are many ways to cut down on the amount of money spent. Looking through second hand stores, such as Goodwill, The Salvation Army and flea markets, are ways to save some money. Often times these stores might have a hidden gem, such as a semi-used bed frame or dressers that are being sold at a big discount. But when purchasing these items, remember to clean and disinfect anything you buy, since they collect dirt and germs. Our recent room decoration article talks about using apps such as OfferUp or Letgo, where people sell their belongings, like furniture or decoration items. Oftentimes the sellers are willing to sell at a cheaper price as long as you know how to bargain. Just remember to be safe when buying items from these apps.

When it’s a new academic year, most people want to look nice and put together. New clothes cost quite a bit, and that’s without taking into account shoes or accessories. That doesn’t mean you can’t buy new clothes that are nice and fit well. When going into department stores such as Burlington, Ross or Aeropostale, check the “clearance” section first. Often times stores place items that are leftover, underselling or out of season in the clearance section. Going to second hand stores like Savers or Goodwill is a good way to save on clothes and shoes since there’s a variety of styles and options due to people donating their belongings.   

Although there’s no way around the cost of food, there are ways to save a little extra change. If you have space, buying in bulk saves money in the long run. For example, buying a box of granola bars at Costco or Sam’s Club is cheaper than buying individual or smaller boxes. When going grocery shopping make sure to have a list of the things you need and don’t shop when you’re hungry. Downloading couponing apps and checking the local store flyers is another way to save money. UCR also often hosts events that serve food, which can be a meal or snack. Meal prepping is not only a convenient way to save food but it also helps you understand how much food you’ll go through and need. 

Finally, the area that is the most expensive: school supplies. There are sales for school supplies around the beginning of the back to school craze or toward the end of the year. Textbooks are usually the most expensive materials. Some professors will put the textbook on reserve in the library, meaning that students can go check it out for a small period of time instead of having to buy it. The UCR Tomas Rivera Library allows students to take photocopies of the textbook, which can be stored in a USB. Although it’s time consuming and tedious, it’s a great way to save money. Something not everyone knows is that you don’t have to buy the textbook; bookstores have the option to rent the textbook, which is usually cheaper. Some student organizations, such as the Chicano Student Program, might have copies of older editions of textbooks, which can be loaned for a period of time. Keeping an eye out for “student discounts” or sales can help you save a bit of money as well.

Here are other miscellaneous tricks to save money in the long run. Saving literal change can actually make more money. We drop or throw money away because it’s “only five cents” but saving multiple coins and small bills can turn into $20 or $50. When buying food at fast-food chains or most places, completing the surveys can lead to coupon codes, which can get you a dollar off or sometimes a free meal. Recycling plastic bottles or cans gives a bit of extra cash, since many college students throw plastic bottles away. 

Saving money can be hard work and it’s not always easy, but with these tips and tricks, you can make your wallet feel a little thicker.

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