Are you a starving student trying to make ends meet?
Are you the parent of a thrifty student paying for housing, tuition, books and food?
Either way, you know the high school and college years are expensive ones.
Years ago on a popular television show, there was an episode where the star found herself struggling financially. In the scene she was in a cafeteria for lunch and she prepared herself a free lunch. She picked up a soup bowl, filled it with hot water, squeezed in a couple of packages of catsup, salted it, and stirred. Wow! Now that was truly a starving student!
Hopefully you won't ever find yourself quite that broke, but here are a few ideas for the thrifty students out there.
Housing costs vary in each situation, and location, but generally the earlier you are willing to pay for a place, the better deal you can get. In any college town, the rooms fill up fast as the school year begins, so don't delay. Even if you are not moving in until August, try to get the place rented and the deposit sent by late June or early July.
Furniture for your dorm room or college room can be very expensive. If you're willing to settle for used furniture, this is the best option. You may be able to get a few pieces from friends and relatives. Second hand stores in the town your college is in, will have a lot of deals too. Again check the free items on craigslist.
Keep in mind, the furniture you use in college will probably not go on with you in your life. It will also probably get moved many times, which is hard on furniture. Starting college is not the time to buy your dream furniture.
In many college towns students find many of their furnishings in the trash at the end of a semester. This option isn't for everyone and isn't allowed in every town, so check local regulations before dumpster diving.
Books always cost less if you buy them used. This doesn't always work because sometimes the professor uses a new edition of the required book and the used book will not work. It is a good idea to check with the bookstore at your college as soon as you know your class schedule. The bookstore on campus will know what edition of each book is required.
Another good place to check for used books is the college bulletin boards. Often students will advertise books on those boards. Of course a great place to check is facebook if you
have an account there.
Food is another area of expense for students. Many students neglect to eat well while they are away at college. This can lead to illness and a loss of concentration, so it's not a good idea. Here are some thrifty meals and here you will find thrifty grocery shopping ideas.
The best way to assure you are eating regularly and eating healthy is to plan your meals in advance. For students this is not always easy to do, but you can at least plan a couple of evening meals in a week and take lunch with you if you won't have time to return home to eat.
Most colleges have a food plan that you can purchase at the time of enrollment. This is a good idea if you eat enough to justify the cost. Generally the colleges offer several options of food plans, so look them over. This may be your thriftiest option.
School supplies can be expensive. Pens, notebooks and pencils seem like small items but they can add up fast. If you are really trying to save money on supplies, reuse, recycle and use up anything you already have. Make a complete list of what you need, go through what you have on hand and mark those items off your list, then shop discount stores and sales for whatever is left.
Also asking friends and family for some of the items on your list will help. If you absolutely cannot afford the supplies on your list, go to the local food bank, or church and tell them of your need. Many people are willing to help out if they know of a specific need.
Finally - we wish you the absolute best with your education.