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A Guide To Smart Back-To-School Shopping

As you cross off the last days of summer on your calendar, the excitement of going back to college builds up. Whether you’re a confused incoming freshman or a senior already feeling separation anxiety, there is one element in common: back-to-school expenses. Overpriced college bookstores specialize in reeling in students who need that new Nalgene with their college logo, a Snuggie with their team mascot, or bumper stickers for mom and dad. According to The College Board, students should expect to spend about $1,200 on textbooks and supplies each year. But this doesn’t mean you have to hit your credit card limit before college even starts. Keep reading for some tips for smart back-to-school shopping:

 Master list-making

It’s easy to get carried away and shop in excess. By making detailed lists of all your essentials you can avoid wasting money on unnecessary items. Estimate how much you are willing to spend for back-to-school shopping and stick to your budget. Prioritize what you need and purchase those items first. Having a plan will also prevent undesired situations from happening, like getting to college without a lamp (oops) or a mattress topper (trust me, you want one).

Look for discounts

I never thought of myself as a coupon hoarder until I came to college. If you’re like me and collect coupon books at the start of every semester…  there’s no shame about that. Take advantage of those coupons (but avoid using them gratuitously!) Also, look for discount codes you can use at checkout while online shopping. You’d be surprised at how much you can save! You can get discounts simply by being a college student and showing your college ID, as well. Being a college student has perks- use them. Another way to save money when shopping for back-to-school necessities is to sign up for discount cards at places like CVS, Wal-Mart, or Target. It feels great to know you’re saving money so easily.

Buy in large quantities

You can save a lot of money by buying in bulk. Talk to your roommates and housemates about what common items you need for the year and purchase those in large quantities. You’ll also have to go shopping less this way. Sign up for Spacesplitter to make back-to-school shopping even easier. Spacesplitter allows you to split the costs of bills and supplies with your roommates across every person’s credit card. You won’t have to worry about what anyone owes you ever again.

Rent when possible

Renting is a great way to help you cut costs, especially when it comes to books. College bookstores sell overpriced textbooks and will only give you a tiny portion of the cost if you sell them back once the semester ends. gives you a price comparison of each textbook among several vendors (including your college bookstore). You will quickly realize that you can save hundreds of dollars by avoiding the bookstore!

Fun ways to earn quick cash

Having extra cash will help cover your back-to-school expenses. On, college students can earn up to $20 an hour by answering simple multiple-choice questions about interesting brands. The discounts they earn can also be used at any of the companies they answered a question about. Instead of turning your earnings into cash you can trade in those funds for college necessities in the Jebbit store. Another easy way to earn quick cash is to sell old textbooks through Campus Shift or Cash4books. You might keep textbooks for future use but what will most likely happen is that they gather dust on your bookshelf. Through Campus Shift you can also sell your old notes and buy books at discounted prices. The time you spend researching pays off (literally!).

Back-to-school expenses do add up but there are definitely ways to minimize those costs. Your credit card bill and wallet will thank you at the end of the month!

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About The Author

Mike is the owner and main contributor for Mike enjoys learning about personal finances and works hard to help college students make and save money in college.

Number of Entries : 128

Comments (2)

  • Lindsay Lush

    Great article! I’m always looking for money saving tips and your posts always help me to get some good ideas.

  • Anna Edwards

    In NYC we have a book called 365 Guide. I’m not sure where else it exists but it gives us tons of restaurant and bar deals in New York City. It saves me a ton of money. A good tip.

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