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10 College Budget Tips: Life on a Shoestring

College tuition is a huge expense. So how are you supposed to get through the next four years with little to no money coming in? Obviously, you need to draw up a college  budget and stick to it. But stretching those dollars only goes so far. Here are some ways for you to live on a sensible college budget while you’re in school:

10 College Budget Tips: Life on a Shoestring

College on a shoestring budget

Discouraged about planning a college budget and sticking to it? Don’t be! This is just the first of many challenges that you will have while working towards your major. With the right attitude, you can have it all- a great college education…and a LIFE.

Ten helpful tips for acing college without going broke!

1) Walk or bike to campus as much as you can.

(It’ll help budget workout expenses!) When a car is absolutely necessary, drive slowly and keep the air conditioning off. Try to use public transportation as well. You can also get a college student discount on bus passes.

2) Buy in bulk.

Load up on food staples like pasta, rice, tuna, cereals, frozen vegetables, and paper supply items. Buying in bulk saves time and is good for your budget during the college years.This can save you lots of money. The extra time you’ve saved can be put to productive use on school textbooks!

3) Always eat at dorm.

Eating out is a luxury you can’t afford; at least, not until you graduate college with honors. If you do decide to splurge on restaurant food, you can still eat without killing your budget; find a buffet which offers a dirt-cheap menu or one that offers early bird specials.

4) Stay away from campus vending machines!

They are notoriously overpriced and take advantage of impulse-buying psychology. Always keep crackers or a healthy energy bar handy in your school bag in case you get the munchies in class or while studying at the college library.

5) Avoid movie theaters.

Movies and theater popcorn will kill your college budget. Instead, borrow movies from your college library, or stream online. You can pop cheap microwave popcorn for a fun night in with friends.

College can be an amazing time, with experiences that you can look back on later in life, smile and say “I did it once; I can do it again!”

6) Use coupons and promo codes.

Lots of online merchants offer promo codes to save money on shipping. Use a price comparison site like Book Bargain before purchasing college textbooks or other college materials online. And don’t forget the old standby, the Sunday newspaper, which is also loaded with money-saving coupons.

7) Buy used books and everything else second-hand.

Every college town has a Salvation Army or Goodwill that’s FULL of great stuff like washed clothing, books, DVDs, bikes, and furniture for your dorm. Many items are barely used or still have the tags on them. Also, check Craig’s list or your classifieds for items. Shopping on a college budget can be loads of fun!

8) Look for free entertainment.

Between studying and college exams, check out your city’s paper or website. Most municipalities offer free concerts or free entrances to various attractions. Student discounts are also available for these events.

9) Share with your dorm mate or frat buddy.

Split the cost of living with your dorm room mate, fraternity brother, or sorority sister. Save on expenses like food, movie rentals, workout equipment…even cool clothing! (Assuming your dorm mate or sorority sis wears the same size and has the same taste in fashion.)

10) Check your campus bulletin boards.  

Be on the lookout for college student discounts and deals. As a student, it’s understood that you’re always strapped for cash. Most local businesses offer special discounts and deals on movies, books, and other goodies. Always check for a student discount before purchasing anything.

Your turn!

Will you use any of these college budget tips? Do you have any questions or suggestions to add?Please leave your comments below!

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Ace College with these Simple Studying Tips

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Life Hacks for Dorm Life: Weird Tricks that Work

So you’re in your dorm getting dressed class, and you accidentally swipe clumpy ink on your white shirt. You need your cup of coffee in the morning, or else you’re a complete zombie, but you’re completely out of sugar, and your budget doesn’t allow for Starbucks.

What’s a poor harried college student to do?

Here are some tips for handling some of those frustrating college dorm scenarios.

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Urawaza: Secret Everyday Tips and Tricks from Japan

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In Japanese it’s called Urawaza. It means simple tips, tricks, and secrets of everyday life. These are especially helpful for college students who are dorming far from home.

Here are some tried and true tricks that are included in Urawaza: Secret Everyday Tips and Tricks from Japan

  • Put an extra garbage bag or two at the bottom of your garbage can before putting in the actual liner. That way when you change the bag you already have one ready.
  • Vinegar Tricks: A dab of apple cider vinegar can banish blemishes, and a mix of white vinegar and tap water can be applied to your hair to make it shiny.
  • Want an ice cold beer? Wrap a wet paper towel around a beer bottle then freeze. Wait a few hours. It will be icy cold.
  • Got ink on your shirt? Put a generous amount of toothpaste on the spots then let it dry completely. Afterwards wash it out.
  • Don’t have sweetener for your coffee? Put a pinch of salt in it to lessen the bitterness.
  • Don’t waste money on plastic color-coded key covers. Just take some nail polish and paint them in different colors.
  • Take an old paper towel tube, make a small slit, and then slide onto a wire hanger to hang those slacks. Perfect for preventing creasing.
  • Put your iPhone or iPod in a bowl for an impromptu speaker. The concave shape amplifies music.

Your turn!

Have any tips to add?

Do you have any questions or suggestions?  Please leave your comments below.

Share with your friends!

If you found this article helpful, then please share with your friends, family, and coworkers by email, twitter, or Facebook.

Like this? Read more:

Ace College with these Simple Studying Tips

Dorm Room 101: 15 Tips to Kill Clutter

10 Tips for Earning Money in College

Succeeding in college means you gotta stick your nose in a book all day and most of the night.  So what’s a smart ambitious college student supposed to do to earn some spending cash? Here are some tips on how you can earn money without neglecting your studies.

10 Tips for Earning Money in College

Earn college money walking dogs!

1- Clean houses. Is your school in an affluent neighborhood? A savvy college guy can make $120 per day just cleaning homes, in as little as four hours. Not too shabby.

2- Wash windows. Again, hit the more upscale neighborhoods and charge $10 per window.

3- Walk dogs. Little Pookie can be walked once a day with a few other poochie friends, and you can charge $10- $15 per walk.  Or, get your client to agree to a weekly contract. The total amount of time would be 7 hours per week.

Is Your Used Textbook Sell-Back Worthy?

4- Wash cars. Offer washing and waxing, and take some pride in your work by providing additional car detailing. Give a nice rate of $40 and work out a deal where you’ll do it monthly.

5- Mow lawns. Charge $1 per minute and always use the client’s lawn mower, not your own. Remember that you want to keep your costs low.

6- Do laundry. Most mothers find that laundry is a job unto itself. Offer to wash, fold, and put away laundry at a rate of $20 per hour. Arrange a weekly deal.

7- Babysit. If you’re a college student who happens to be good with kids, offer babysitting services in the evenings. Charge $10 an hour.

8- Make sushi. Roll fresh home-made sushi and sell them around the college campus. Go on You Tube and learn how to make a California roll. Include vegan or cooked fish options. Sushi making is not hard, but it is tedious, so people will happily pay for it. Advertise for 30% cheaper than the local restaurants.

9- Sew. If you’re handy with a needle and thread and own a sewing machine, then offer to do minor mending and hem repairs. Charge between $5- $15.

10- Donate blood. If all else fails, go give up a pint of blood. They pay on average $30 and the entire process involves doing a ton of paperwork and sitting for two hours as you’re donating.

Your turn!
Do you have any questions or suggestions?  Please leave your comments below.

Share with your friends!
If you found this article helpful, then please share with your friends, family, and coworkers by email, twitter, or Facebook.

Like this? Read more:

5 Ways to Cut College Textbook Costs

2012 Colleges that were Ridiculously Expensive

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College Road Trips on the Cheap- 9 Money-Saving Tips

So, you’re planning a college road trip this summer, but you don’t have a lot of spending cash? You’re already saving a lot of money by taking to the road instead of the friendly skies, so give yourself a high-five. Here are some helpful tips for exploring all the universities you’ve been accepted to without breaking the piggy bank.

College Road Trips on the Cheap- 9 Money-Saving Tips

1- Get a checkup.

The first day of your college road trip is not the best time to suddenly discover that you need a tune-up, so visit your car doctor a week before your trip.  Your checkup list should include tires, transmission, fluids, and brakes. Don’t forget to pack a spare tire!

2- Figure on gas.

Calculate gas costs by using this miles per gallon calculator. Map out all the colleges you plan on visiting, and decide how much time you want to spend at each stop. Always fill up on cheap gas when it’s available.

3- Prepare to rough it out.

This is no time to be picky about your lodgings. If you’re going to explore all the colleges that are out there on a limited budget…and limited time schedule, then prepare to take frugal living to the max. Have a competition between your road trip buddies to see who can out-cheap the other. Sleep in your car, freshen up at rest stops, and just enjoy the freedom of the open road.

4- Lighten the load.

Save trunk space and avoid annoying your buddies by packing the bare minimum in your duffle bag. Make a packing list, and then slash it in half. You don’t need to pack a complete makeup collection or every decent pair of blue jeans you own just to tour a few colleges. It’s one or two weeks out of your life that will seem much longer if you have to sit squeezed between miscellaneous sports gear and other nonessentials, so pack light.

5- Go with the flow.

Having a sensible budget and schedule will keep things running smoothly…except for when they don’t. Because no matter how well you plan your road trip ahead of time, things don’t always go as planned. Try to take things on a day-to-day basis, and keep things flexible. You may decide that a college you thought was a no-go is starting to look pretty good, and include it in your route. Or, you may find that college road-tripping isn’t everything you hoped it would be, and may want to cut out some of your stops.

6- Sleep around.

Plan to sleep cheap or free. Check out local youth hostels, camping sites, or connect with friends who live in the area. Check in with Couchsurfing for hosts willing to lend out a room for friendly college students touring the area.

7- Pass the can.

Everybody should chip in for basic necessary expenses like gas, food, and lodging. Pool together spending money, and don’t be tempted to use it for souvenirs or luxury items.

8- Don’t buy junk.

Speaking of luxury items, just don’t buy them. The real point of the trip is to tour colleges and make a decision for the fall, not to add to your novelty spoon collection. Souvenir items are always overpriced- if you need a memento to treasure the moment, collect sea shells, rocks, or pinecones.

9- Sight-see for free.

If you really want to get a feel for the area, skip the costly sightseeing tours. Find out what other college students of the area do for fun, and follow their lead.  Go for a hike, check out the best beaches for surfing, or take a walk through town.

Your turn!

Do you have any questions or suggestions?  Please leave your comments below.

Share with your friends!

If you found this article helpful, then please share with your friends, family, and coworkers by email, twitter, or Facebook.

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2012 Colleges that were Ridiculously Expensive

5 Ways to Cut College Textbook Costs

Image courtesy of Zach Dischner

 

2012 Colleges that were Ridiculously Expensive

The Department of Education just released a list of the most expensive colleges from 2011-2012. While you may not think it’s fair to compare the sticker price for the University of Pittsburgh with the tuition for a private 4-year university such as Harvard, it helps to put things into perspective, especially if you’re part of the middle class struggle for a decent, affordable college education.

2012 Colleges that were Ridiculously Expensive

Which colleges are the most expensive, and which provide a more economical tuition scale? Like Einstein said, it’s all about relativity. Things to consider in choosing a college include highest tuition, overall highest cost per year, and financial aid opportunities.

Are you really dead-set on the college of your dreams, but your professors want you to spend thousands of dollars on college textbooks? You don’t have to shop around. Go to a used textbook search engine, like the one at Book Bargain, and find the best price for your college course materials instantly. Search by USBN number, title, author, or subject.

List of most expensive colleges from 2011-2012

Public colleges with highest tuition

1. University of Pittsburgh- $16,132

2. Pennsylvania State University- $15,984

3. University of New Hampshire- $15,250

4. University of Vermont- $14,784

5. Colorado School of Mines- $14,453

Private colleges with highest tuition

1. Columbia University, New York- $45,290

2. Sarah Lawrence College, New York- $45,212

3. Vassar College, New York- $44,705

4. George Washington University, District of Columbia- $44,148

5. Trinity College, Connecticut- $44,070

Public colleges with highest net price

1. Miami University-Oxford, Ohio- $22,210

2. Pennsylvania State University- $21,342

3. University of Guam- $21,296

4. St. Mary’s College of Maryland- $20,521

5. Pennsylvania State University, Altoona- $20,457

Private colleges with highest net price

1. School of the Art Institute of Chicago- $42,882

2. Ringling College of Art and Design, Florida- $40,222

3. The Boston Conservatory- $39,602

4. Berklee College of Music, Massachusetts- $38,814

5. California Institute of the Arts- $38,802

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