You’ve paid the tuition bill, so what’s next? Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, guys, but if you haven’t figured it out already, it doesn’t end there. There are hidden expenditures that come with college and, no, I’m not talking about keg rentals or midnight Starbucks runs.
Here’s a list of unexpected, but unavoidable, college expenses and ways to save on them:
Textbooks: Plan on spending $1,000 or more on textbooks if you purchase them in the college bookstore. Check out Craigslist.com, Amazon.com and Ebay.com for new or used books. Check out Chegg.com for rental books. You can also purchase electronic versions of textbooks which can be half the cost of a printed version.
Electronics: You’ve got to have a computer and an alarm clock, right? It’s estimated that students spend almost $750 on these kinds of gadgets. But do you really need all of them? Things like iPods, game consoles and digital cameras are nice to have but you can live without them. Before you decide which electronics to buy, pick ones that you know you will use the most. Check out pawn shops and Craigslist.com to find deals on used electronics.
Dorm furnishings: Bedspreads, curtains, desks, chairs- it all adds up. According to the National Retail Federation, students spend up to $350 when they outfit their dorm. Be thrifty, and check out Goodwill or outlet mall stores. Skip on the extras like scented candles, decorative pillows and expensive lamps.
Other dorm must-haves: If you’re planning on living in a dorm, plan on purchasing a toaster, microwave, mini fridge, coffee maker, hair dryer, vacuum; well, you get the idea. All these items together can run you $600 dollars or more. To save, purchase used, see what your parents are willing to give up or split the cost of some these items with your roommate.
Food (beyond the meal plan): If you like to eat outside of the university’s dining hall, plan on spending $30 to $50 a week extra on food. If you’re already paying for a meal plan, then use it. Limit yourself to only eating out twice a week. Shop and save at a buy-in-bulk store like Sam’s Club or Costco. Purchase your snacks and non-cafateria meals there. Though these places require a membership fee, you can save money by sharing a membership and splitting the cost of groceries with your roommate.
Sorority or fraternity fees: They’ll cost you $100 to $500, and sorry guys, there’s no real way to save on these. All I can say is if you can’t afford the fees, don’t join a fraternity or sorority.
Budgeting can be tough your first year of college. But if you take the time to consider all your expenses, like cell phone bills and gas, it will give you a better understanding of where all your money is going and how much you are going to need to survive.
Via The College Board and The National Retail Federation
Paying for College with a 529 Plan
How to Avoid Debt to Pay for College
America’s 10 Most Expensive Colleges and Universities