College tuition already costs an arm and a leg. Plus, every year prices seem to rise. So why should back-to-school shopping cost another bucket of money? Good news: it doesn’t have to, even if you need a computer, furniture, clothes, textbooks, and supplies. The key, of course, is keeping it cheap. Here are 6 ways to spend less while back-to-school shopping:
1. Make a budget
Decide how much you can spend before you decide what you want to buy — and always remember to never spend more than you have.
2. Buy what you need, not what you want
Once you have a budget, it’s much easier to distinguish between things you need and things you want. For example, you probably need a computer in order to type papers, complete assignments online, use the Internet, and more. But you probably want an iPad, as well. They weigh less and may be useful in class if you want to take notes electronically. But resist the urge to get both. Stick with the computer.
3. Buy or rent your textbooks online
Why pay bookstore prices when you can buy or rent millions of titles from thousands of sellers online — all while saving up to 90% off everything? ValoreBooks, our sister-company, makes it easy to find the new, used, or rental textbooks you need at prices you can actually afford. Better yet, when the semester is over, you can sell those books back for more money. That makes it easy to recoup more of your money at the end of every semester.
4. Shop after Labor Day
Good things come to those who wait. In your case, discounts. This is especially true of clothing, as retailers are looking to unload what they didn’t sell during the back-to-school season.
5. Use your student ID
Your college student ID entitles you to all kinds of discounts in life and on the web. Check out this list of where you can save money on technology, food, clothes, and more!
6. Buy used
Things like furniture are going to get banged up anyway, so why not buy used from the get-go? That way you can save money. Check garage sales, second-hand stores, Craigslist, and even your local Goodwill.
The only thing harder than studying for your classes is finding the money to pay for them. Good thing we’re here to help you borrow cheaply. Here’s the smart guide to student borrowing:
Get started today by comparing your private student loan options. Just remember to:
- Max out your federal aid before you consider the private option. Federal student loans often comes with lower interest rates and more favorable lending terms, so it always pays to use up your federal aid eligibility first. That means: fill out a FAFSA if you haven’t already.
- Know how much to borrow. One of the most expensive mistakes a student can make is borrowing too much money. Budget for all your costs, including extraneous things like entertainment, transportation, printing, and parking. But never plan on using your loan disbursement for stuff you don’t need, like a vacation.
- Find a co-signer. If you’ve got a bad credit score or no credit history, then chances are you’ll have trouble finding a private student loan without a credit-worthy co-signer. But that’s not a bad thing! Having a co-signer improves your chances of qualifying for a private student loan and may actually lower your interest rate, saving you money.
- Keep your expected costs down. There’s an important mantra to remember: the less money you plan on spending, the less money you have to borrow. Our sister-company, ValoreBooks, can help. Stop paying retail prices on textbooks. Shop or rent with ValoreBooks next semester and save up to 90%. Then use that money to pay some of your tuition bill.
- Know your borrower benefits. Private lenders offer various benefits to borrowers. Some provide interest rate discounts for enrolling in auto-repayment or for students who’ve made a certain number of on-time consecutive payments. Some lenders even cut your premium by a percentage point or two when you graduate. The key here: know what’s offered ahead of time and calculate those benefits into your total cost.
Many students find it difficult to pay for their tuition bills even with the help of financial aid. Scholarships – free money for school - are the perfect source of extra cash to help pay for college. The trouble is, of course, that these scholarships are hidden in the cyber jungle we call the Internet. Finding scholarships you qualify for often takes more time than actually applying. Luckily, we’ve compiled this list of ways you can easily find scholarships that are right for you!
1. Merit-based. Before you go searching the net for scholarships, take a look a bit closer to home. Many colleges offer merit-based scholarships, often for specific majors, specific talents, and more. Check your institution’s website, financial aid office, and your major department for leads.
2. Scholarship Center. Check out our Scholarship Center, which offers a deep selection of scholarship opportunities for students of all years and majors. Simply fill out your information and you will be given a list of scholarships that you are eligible for. It’s a great way to find scholarships without having to spend tons of time searching for them!
3. Let us keep you posted. Be sure to bookmark and check back on our blog. If you are a student looking for some tips and tricks on saving cash in school, this is the place to be. We’ll keep you updated with blog posts whenever we find great scholarship opportunities to share. In addition, we share tons of scholarship info and other fun content on our Facebook and Twitter, so go ahead and give us a like/follow and stay up to date!
Winter break is here, or almost here, the holidays are upon us, and the start of a new year is right around the corner. So much to celebrate! But remember: if you don’t have all the money you need for next semester’s tuition bill, now’s the perfect time to find it. Here’s how:
1. Compare your private student loan options. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it a million times. Lending rates and benefits change, so comparing your loan options every semester could save you thousands. It’s easy, it’s fast, and it’s free.
2. Keep searching for scholarships. They’re available year-round. Now that you don’t have class to worry about, start worrying about your wallet and how to fill it with free money. Hit up your school’s financial aid office and our Scholarship Center.
3. Find seasonal work. Take advantage of the festive spirit by earning a little festive cash. Retail outlets hire tons of temporary workers for the holidays. Likewise, ice-skating rinks, ski resorts, and restaurants may pick up extra folks for the holiday season.
4. Apply for part-time jobs on campus. There’s usually job turnover at the end of each semester, so get your applications in before next semester starts. Try the library, the cafeteria, and even department offices, which may need assistants.
Here’s how it works:
- Sign up for a free SmarterBucks account (if you haven’t already!)
- Shop with your favorite brands in the SmarterBucks Marketplace, which can be easily accessed from your SmarterBucks dashboard
- Earn rewards on every purchase, then watch as those rewards automatically become extra student loan payments toward any student loan!
Plus, from now until the end of the year, we’re offering DOUBLE rewards on all SmarterBucks Marketplace purchases!
The bottom line: whether you’re shopping for a foodie, a sports fanatic, a fashionista, a luxury-lover, a traveler, or you just need a gift basket for an upcoming party, we guarantee that you’ll find what you’re looking for. And if you have to spend money anyway, shouldn’t you get rewarded for it? Check out a few of the brands you can find in our marketplace and the rewards you could be earning, then sign up to get started!