5 Ways to Save on Back to College Needs

Back to school. It's not just for grade-school kiddos. Over the next few weeks many young adults are leaving the nest to head off to a faraway land of freedom and no parents. That would be college in case you didn't catch that :)

College does actually cost an arm and a leg nowadays so anyway to alleviate some of the outside expenses has to be a huge help. Speaking as a former college student, I can say it IS a huge help.

I lived at home during most of my college days. When I returned to school after being married and with child (#1) at the time, I still lived at home. Imagine that :) There are several things you need whether you're staying at home or living in your own place on/near campus. Here are a few ways you can help save on the “extra” college expenses:

Saving on Textbooks

When I was finishing my degree, I attended school online. Buying books online was the only way I could get my textbooks. I couldn't fly to the campus bookstore and grab my books. Purchasing books in this way was way back before it was “normal” and even I was tentative at first.

Nowadays it has to be the norm to purchase books online. In fact, you can probably find a greater selection of used books at sites like eCampus and Textbook Stop rather than the on-campus bookstore.

Something that is newer (to me) is renting books. You can rent your books in either hard back or e-reader formats.  According to Chegg.com, you can save over $500 in a year by renting your textbooks! And, let's be honest. Speaking from experience, I have NEVER picked up on Economics 101 book again. EVER.

Saving on Software

Many universities offer discounts to students to purchase software at an amazing rate. If you purchase the software online, you will likely need the school's discount codes so check with the staff to see where you get one (try the library or computer room if all else fails).

Many stores will offer a discount, but not near as good as the one you can get through the school. Have your student id at the ready when you're checking out to receive the savings.

Saving on Equipment

Now is a great time to purchase a computer and other equipment. In fact, now is probably the second best time to purchase a new computer (the best time being Christmas). The deals are just as good and when you combine shopping online and getting cash back, the discount is even better.

If you're an Apple (Mac) fan, then take advantage of the special they have now when you purchase a new Mac with Apple education pricing. Through September 20, 2011, you will receive a free $100 Back to School Card to use on the Mac App Store, the App Store, the iTunes Store, and the iBookstore. A similar deal comes back every year (last year it was get an iPod Touch with purchase).

Again, shop the Apple Store through Shop at Home and earn 1% cash back! It doesn't seem like a lot but it does add up!

Purchase Discounted Gift Cards

Grab a few gift cards for places where you will visit often. Whether it's a restaurant, a retail store or even the movies, their are discounted gift cards available on sites like Plastic Jungle and Gift Card Rescue. Take advantage of the deals to buy a gift card for less so you can save more.

Resell to Earn Cash

Since I never used that Economics book (and several more) ever again, I sold them back. You can either sell them back to the bookstore on campus, online sites like the ones above that you purchased your textbooks or other friends/students who may be taking the class after you.

Read more on selling old books for cash to learn how I have personally done this.

Finally, if you live in a state that offers a tax rebate for back to school shopping, take advantage of it! It's truly not just one thing that you do to save with anything. It's the small things that have a cumulative effect and can truly impact your checkbook.

What other tips do you have for back to college savings?

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