Imagine saving tons of money each semester, buying whatever it is you really want, and being able to avoid the “poor college student” lifestyle. Avoid these deadly sins and you’re on your way.
1. Don’t buy books from the book store. I can’t stress this one enough. I know I’ve gotten screwed enough times at the bookstore along with a lot of my friends. Don’t make the same mistake. Somehow these book stores have conjured up the sales technique of selling you a book for $100 and later buy it back from you for $4, and then sell it back to some other hapless student for $94 marked as “used.” The only thing getting used here is the student. Use services on the internet such as Half.com, Amazon, The Facebook Marketplace, or use comparative search tool like BigWords.com or BetterWorld that actually tells you the best price from a number of sellers. Make sure to order early so that your books arrive on time.
2. Don’t buy books until the first week of class has gone by. Let’s face it, you’re not going to read half of the books anyway. Instead of tossing money away to resell the books back with spine still intact, just sit through the class for a week and find out if the books are necessary. You might even find that you don’t want to take the class this semester anyway and by next year there will be a completely new professor teaching it and new set of books to read. If you miss an assigned reading, so what? It’s college. You will be able to make up for it when you’re positive you need the book. Not to mention you’ll have saved yourself plenty of money by not buying the “recommended reading” book that your prof loved as a child, but has nothing to do with the class.
3. Don’t drive. You don’t need a car. I don’t care how big your campus is or how far away you live. If you live far enough away that you need a car, you’re probably spending more money on gas than you would on renting nearer to your school. For all your other needs you can use public transportation, ride a bike, walk, or even rollerblade. Having a car requires gas money, insurance, car payments, money for upkeep, and actually takes more of your time when your friends ask for rides than it saves you (like on the 2 minute walk that is now 1 minute of driving and 3 minutes of finding a parking spot).
4. Don’t take classes you don’t need. Set up an appointment with your counselor as soon as you can and figure out exactly what you need to graduate. Sure, if you want to take underwater basket weaving just to dabble, then do it. I took boxing, sailing, and a class on biomechanical theory just for fun. If you want to save money though, cut out the fat. Make sure the classes you take will get you to where you want to be as quickly as possible.
5. Don’t wait to sign up for classes. I have been a victim of this and it’s insanely frustrating to find out all of the classes you want are taken and the only ones you can take to fill the requirement are boring and at 8am. This is a waste of money, time, and your education. Have your schedule laid out prior to the opening of the system and sign up the day (or hour) you’re allowed to access the class system. This will save you a lot of stress and prevent you from wasting money on classes you hate. If you get stuck in the situation where you can’t sign up ahead of time, make sure to e-mail the professor as soon as possible and get some name recognition in case there’s a waiting list.
6. Don’t sign up for the minimum amount of classes you need. This may sound backwards but it helps in the long run. If you sign up for the maximum amount of credits per semester, you can drop any class that you don’t like without having to worry about not being able to get enough classes to fill your schedule. This will save you time and money. For instance, if you have a bad professor, can’t get from one class to another on time, or find out your friend John is taking that class next semester and you want to study together; you can just drop the class, get a refund, and move on with your life. Just make sure you drop the classes you don’t want as soon as possible to get all of your money back or you’ll be slapped with a hefty drop fee.
7. Get a laptop. Ok, so this isn’t a sin, but “Don’t not have a laptop” just sounds dumb. Laptops are a huge time and money saver. Don’t waste your money on notebooks and pencils every semester and for every class. Instead, take notes on your laptop (I know it’s hard, but try not to Facebook too much and actually pay attention) and you will be able to go back and edit easily, print off your notes to study from, and share with your classmates. Finally, it saves on energy since it’s not plugged in 100% of the time like a desktop computer and is portable to coffee shops and the living room so you can still pretend to be social while you’re downloading more episodes of The Office.
I hope you’re able to ward off these sins and live a happy and successful college life while spending that extra money on things you really want. I don’t judge.Now go own the world.
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