If this year’s tuition bill is bigger than last year’s, then you’re a victim of the increasing cost of college. Here are five ways to battle back and keep it cheap:
- Compare your private student loans. Finding the perfect student loan for you, with the lowest interest rate possible, can save you literally thousands of dollars over the course of your education. The best part? When you compare your student loans with SimpleTuition, it’s fast, easy, and free.
- Cut other college costs. Do you really need your own internet connection or can you go to the library? Also: cook your own food, reevaluate your meal plan, and use ValoreBooks, our textbook marketplace, to save up to $500 a year on textbooks.
- Find someone else to pay for your education. There’s only one relevant word here: scholarships. Check out our Scholarship Center to find ones you qualify for. Start applying and never stop. That means you can (and should!) apply for scholarships during all four years of college. There are even scholarships available for graduate students.
- Finish college early. The less time you’re in school, the less your degree is going to cost you. Here are some ideas on how you can graduate early.
- Start paying your loans back before you have to. Because of accruing interest, every dollar you pay back now is worth more than a dollar in long-term debt reduction. The earlier you pay, the more that dollar is worth. Sign up for SmarterBucks® and you can earn those extra student loan payments by taking surveys, doing the shopping you already do, or by inviting family and friends to get in on the action.
College is expensive enough already, so why should getting ready for school cost another bucket of money? But let’s face it. You need a computer. You need furniture. You need clothes, textbooks, supplies, and a ton of laundry detergent. The key is keeping it cheap:
- Compare your student loans. Knowing your options and finding the lowest annual percentage rate (or APR) could save you thousands.
- Buy 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, can find you the new, used, or rental textbooks you need at prices you can actually afford.
- Budget while back-to-school shopping. Decide how much you can spend before you decide what you want to buy — and always remember to never spend more than you have.
- 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.
- Buy used. Things like furniture are going to get banged up anyway. Check garage sales, second-hand stores, and even your local Goodwill.
If you think textbooks cost more than they should, then welcome to the club. So do we. Fortunately our sister-company, ValoreBooks, helps you buy or rent the books you need at prices you can actually afford. We compare millions of books from thousands of sellers, meaning you save up to 90% off everything! But did you know there are reasons textbooks actually should be expensive, at least from an economic perspective? Check it out:
- Textbooks have smaller markets. Textbooks are inherently specialized and therefore not meant for general circulation. Yet production costs like paying authors, designing the book, printing it, distributing it, and so on, remain almost constant. It’s a lesson in mass production: the more you make, the cheaper the per-unit cost becomes. Unfortunately this is bad news for textbooks, which have small audiences and therefore small print runs. That means each individual book needs to cost more.
- Printing textbooks costs more than printing a novel. Does your textbook have lots of graphics, colors, charts, photographs, or laminated pages? The cost per printed page drastically increases if so.
- Textbook publishers view the used book market as lost revenue. When you buy or sell a used textbook, the publisher doesn’t make any money. You or a reseller does. To adjust for this, publishers increase the initial cost of that book-almost making up for lost future sales.
The lesson here? Compare books before you buy them. Find a price you can afford. Buy used instead of new. Or rent if you don’t need to keep the book. Do it with ValoreBooks and you could even save up to $500 a year on your textbook spending!
A few words of advice: if you’ve got a perfect Valentine’s Day plan, don’t ruin it with one of the following gifts. Even if you don’t have perfect Valentine’s Day plans, or you’re going to wing it, or you don’t even like your significant other and intentionally want to ruin Valentine’s Day so they’ll dump you before the night is even over, don’t buy one of these gifts. It would be way too cruel:
- A chocolate scale. It’s not a scale for measuring chocolates. It’s a scale for measuring people who eat too much of that delectable treat. It’s a less-than-sweet way of calling someone fat.
- Homemade coupons. No matter how enticing your homemade coupons may be, the sentiment itself is a broken concept. If you’re in a working relationship, all your coupons are worthless because you should be doing those things already. Whether it’s doing the dishes, otherwise cleaning the house, or, you know, something a bit more intimate, a coupon book is a good way of reminding your significant other of all the things you don’t do on the regular just because you’re a nice person.
- Mediocre chocolates. First, because it’s cliche. Second, because if someone is going to dive into unhealthy eats, said eats better be worth it. That means go with an upgrade. Godiva, for example. Or if you really want to break the bank, Payard.
- Something too practical. Giving someone a power tool or a vacuum cleaner doesn’t say ‘I love you’. It says, ‘Go do some work.’
- A proposal. Call it what you want: too expected, uncreative, just plain boring. If you’re really in love, and are thinking of popping the question, save it for a day that’ll surprise.
- Gift cards/cash. Just don’t.
- Nothing. Which, for obvious reasons, is the worst gift of all. Even if you are on a budget, or talk with your significant other and decide you aren’t going to do anything special for Valentine’s, small gestures are a good idea.
- Ugly jewelry. Like the Open Hearts collection by Kay Jewelers. The point here? If the jewelry has a heart, or Cupid, or some other worn-out symbol of your undying commitment, it’s probably not what you’re significant other is dying to wear.
- Romantic movies. A DVD of The Notebook isn’t doing you any favors.
- Fake roses. Saying they “last forever” isn’t a good excuse.
With classes in full swing, and your body shaking from vacation withdrawal, what better time to treat yourself to a back to school gift? Our Student Deals page features the top back to school products for under $25, courtesy of Amazon.com. Pick out something fun for yourself or finagle your parents into paying for that new laptop case you absolutely need for class.