Face it: the price of college is swelling more than the summer surf. So here are five things you can buy that will actually cut your overall costs, ensuring that your next semester will be as affordable as it can be. If that’s not a bit of metaphorical sunshine, we don’t know what is.
1. A top-notch bed set. What could be more devastating than running excitedly into your dorm room on move-in day only to see an old, lumpy mattress resting on what looks like a decades-old bedspring? Purchasing a comfortable blanket and set of sheets—as well as a mattress pad—is crucial, as a quality bed set will last you the entirety of your college career, and could save you a trip to the chiropractor. But sleeping well will save you money in other ways, too. At the very least, you won’t have to buy so much coffee.
2. A coffee pot. No matter how well you sleep, you’ll still need your daily dose of caffeine. Instead of buying a cup of Joe over the counter, brew your own in the comfort of your dorm room and you could start off your day by cutting your coffee-related expenses in half. Keurigs tend to be popular, as they’re easy and safe to use.
3. A good pair of headphones. Looking for new music? Take advantage of the Web by using streaming sites such as Pandora, Spotify, Playlist, and 8tracks. Not only can you listen to hours of rock anthems, rap mix tapes, and indie tracks, but you’ll save big by staying out of stores.
4. Reusable goods/Bulk goods. Cut down on items you tend to buy over and over. Water bottles, for example. While bottled water is cheaper than a reusable bottle, repeated single purchases add up, putting a strain on your wallet. Overall, the old saying proves true: you want quality, not quantity. The same isn’t true for bulk items. Sometimes more is better and can actually save you money. An example: if something doesn’t expire and you use it frequently, buy the bulk size and save some cash. Things like toothpaste, laundry detergent, coffee, et cetera.
5. Used books. While books are essential, they’re one of the costlier purchases you’ll have to make, as they’re often not included in the price of tuition. So buy them used and you won’t regret having taken a little extra time to find a good deal. Then get some of your money back by selling them at the end of each semester.
A mantra to remember: don’t make unnecessary purchases. Buy what you need, but be smart about it. For instance, don’t worry about packing office supplies (e.g. staplers), as they’ll probably be available around campus, most likely in the library. And wait for things to go on sale. Retailers like Staples and Target always have back-to-school discounts, selling their notebooks, paper, and pens at a reduced rate. Plan ahead and take the opportunity to stock up.