The Freshman’s Guide to Saving Money: Preparing for College | 06.13.12

Posted in College Life, financial aid tips By Student Loan Network Staff

Relaxing with MoneyCongratulations!  You’ve been accepted to college, and, in a few months, you will be leaving home to start the next chapter of your life.  As someone who just completed his freshman year, I can honestly tell you that this past year has been the best year of my life.  However, it has also been the most expensive. I learned how expensive college is the hard way.  After having worked close to full time last summer, I had $3.14 in my bank account by the end of the school year.  My goal is to provide you with tips on how to minimize your costs without minimizing the college experience.

Purchasing books

Don’t buy books from your school bookstore unless absolutely necessary.  Websites such as and provide textbooks at a much more reasonable price.  Amazon also offers a feature referred to as Amazon Student, where students who register with a valid .edu address qualify for six months of free two-day shipping.

Before buying a book for class, check if your school library has it available.  I had to read a book every two weeks for one of my classes last semester, and I was able to find almost all of these books in my school’s library.

Setting up a bank account

Set up a checking account with a bank that is located near your school.  It will save you from having to pay a fee – generally ranging from $1.50 to $2.50 – every time that you want to take out money.

Water filtration > plastic

Get a water filter and reusable water bottle instead of buying plastic bottles.  It may seem inexpensive to buy a 24 pack of water for $5.00, but you’ll be shocked at how quickly you go through it, and how much money those 24 packs add up over the semester.

Invest in a good coffee machine

Instead of buying a coffee from your local coffee shop every day, buy a good coffee machine.  This year, my roommate brought a Keurig to school and I loved it.  Assume that buying a coffee costs $2.00.  Based on this, buying a coffee every day adds up to $730 per year!  In comparison, an 18 pack of Keurig cups generally costs around $12, adding up to $245 a year, or a savings of almost $500.

Back-to-school shopping

Be sure to visit discount stores like Target or Wal-Mart to purchase all the items you need for school.  Most items are generally much cheaper at such stores, and you can find everything that you will need for your room and classes.  Don’t spend your money buying notebooks and folders at the school bookstore, as they will be much less expensive at your local discount store.

Apple student discount

If considering buying an Apple product for school, be sure to ask about their student discounts.  Last year, I bought a Mac, and was given a $100 gift card to iTunes and a printer with my purchase.

Buy a good printer, or use the school ones

The $20 printer may sound good, but the real expense comes from the ink.  Instead, buy a good printer that doesn’t use a lot of ink, and you will save in the long run.  Otherwise, most schools have their own set of printers that are accessible to students for either free, or relatively cheap.

Be sure to check back soon for my next blog about saving money during the school year.

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3 Responses to “The Freshman’s Guide to Saving Money: Preparing for College”

  1. cheap swords says on August 6, 2012 at 7:44 am:

    It is quite important to save money as a student, good tips, thanks.

    Reply To This Comment
  2. Susie Smith says on August 5, 2012 at 11:05 am:

    You are so right about buying your college books from anywhere but the school bookstore. It took me several semesters to realize this. When you go online to, you can enter the ISBN numbers for your books(which are usually given to you by the university site) and you can save tons! Also, I agree with Sharon J. above about generic ink cartridges to save money.

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  3. Sharon J says on July 26, 2012 at 9:00 am:

    If you buy a printer, check that you can generic ink replacement cartridges for that specific model. Epson, HP and Brother printers are brands that have inexpensive generic ink cartridge replacements.

    Reply To This Comment

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