Saving Money on College Costs

By Amanda Cohen on July 4, 2018

When it comes to college, tons of shopping must be done—school supplies, textbooks, dorm room decorations, furniture, beddings, toiletries, clothing, and more. This may all sound like fun and games, but once you see your credit/debit card bill for the month you will have the opposite emotions of happiness. However, since most, if not all, of these items are necessities, there is no way to get around the fact that you will need to purchase everything at one point or another, but there are ways to cut down your college shopping costs by a decent amount.

Now listen carefully because you could be in school from anywhere to four to five years and these costs will add up. Well, I’m here to help! Read on and not only learn how to reduce the money you’re spending on college expenses, but you could even consider this to be some sort of summer reading.

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Textbooks are extremely important to everyone’s college career, but they are also very expensive. So, let’s start by reducing the costs of textbooks. One way to do this is to purchase used textbooks. Used textbooks are great for classes that you don’t really need to use the textbook in all that much. Another great way to save on textbook costs is by renting textbooks instead of buying them. The only setback with renting textbooks is that you can’t highlight or take as many notes in the margins since you will have to return the textbook at the end of the year.

Finally, the best way to save money on textbooks is to not buy them at your university’s school store. Use websites like Amazon, eBay,, Textsurf, and Chegg because they offer deals on new textbooks and old textbooks. In addition, all of these websites give you the option to either buy or rent textbooks. If you are looking to get more in-depth about money-saving tips for textbooks, read my article: Buying Textbooks Without Breaking the Bank.

Dorm Room Items

When it comes to dorm room items, like bedding, towels, and decorations you may think that these costs are not as important as textbook and school supply costs, but you will be living in your dorm room/house/apartment for a year, so you want it to be comfortable and homey. The key to saving money when it comes to dorm room items is to use certain websites. Some of the best websites that I’ve used in the past that also didn’t break the bank are Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Walmart, Home Goods, Target, Wayfair, etc.

If you are looking to print pictures for your wall, use your local pharmacy to print pictures and, instead of paying for shipping costs, just order the prints online and pick them up at whichever pharmacy you prefer. Another great way to save on dorm room items, like toiletries and snacks, is to buy in bulk. Websites like Amazon and stores like Costco are perfect for this sort of thing. In addition, if you like to get cutesy with decorations, use Etsy, which is a website for independent sellers as opposed to places like Urban Outfitters, where everything is double the price for absolutely no reason.


Clothes in college are very important, not because you want to always look good, but if you are going to a college with an extreme climate (whether it be very hot or very cold) you are going to need the necessary clothing to stay healthy. If you are going to a school with really cold weather, avoid brands like Canada Goose and Moncler and opt for store brand jackets or splurge a little extra on a North Face coat.

However, it is okay to want to buy going out clothes or cute clothes to wear to class (God knows I’ve spent my fair share of cash to look good at a formal or on a Thursday night at the bar). If you want to look super cute, some great places to look for affordable clothing are Forever 21, Boohoo, Hello Molly Fashion, Xenia Boutique, Missguided, Revolve Clothing (sale), etc. If your college has some cute little boutiques surrounding it, definitely check those out because you might be able to find some great deals there.

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Well, there you have it, ladies and gentlemen… some sure-fire tips for saving some money while buying everything you need for a successful college career. If there is something that you might not actually need, maybe hold off on buying that (or those) item/items because you don’t want to empty your wallet after only a few minutes of looking around.

In addition, remember to budget for food, because sometimes the dining hall just doesn’t suffice. If you need a little extra money, consider selling some of your items or by picking up a waitressing or babysitting job. Happy shopping my friends!

I am currently a junior at the University of Michigan.

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