#B2SwithJen | Saving Money In College/University


Being a university student, I have found that money just seems to fly out of my wallet so much faster than it enters. University in general is expensive: with paying tuition, living expenses, food, bills and having some side money for your own personal entertainment and treats. What's even worse is that most university students balance all of these expenses with only a part time job that pays minimum wage. 

Here are some easy money saving tips which may help you save a bunch during your years of university/college. 

Control Your Tuition 

When paying for tuition make sure continue to check your balances, especially during the busy times when tuition payments are due. The Registrar's Office and Financial Aid Services are especially busy during tuition payment periods and mistakes are bound to happen. They are only human. For that reason, ensure you are checking your tuition balances to ensure you are paying the right amount and are not being over charged. This is especially important if you have student loans (such as OSAP) that automatically pay the school.
In my first year of University, The Registrar's Office & Financial Aid Services made a mistake on my account balances saying that I owed them an extra $1,000, when I had already paid my tuition. Thankfully, I keep all of my payment receipts and did the appropriate math to calculate how much student loans would pay and how much I would have to pay out of my pocket. I immediately brought my concern to the Financials office and they tried to convince me that I was wrong and I had to pay the additional $1,000 that I did not even know what I was paying for. After showing them the receipts and my math calculations, they apologized and took the $1,000 off of my owed balances. 

Mistakes happen in huge institutions. Make sure you are always on top of your finances, especially for huge payments like tuition. 

Keep Your Receipts 

In addition to my previous example, make sure you are always keeping your receipts. Whether it is for tuition, textbook purchases, supplies recommended by the school, etc. keep those receipts! If it is an online purchase, make sure you are keeping your confirmation numbers as well as your receipts. 

If you find out you don't really need a textbook or bought the wrong one, you can easily return it or exchange it. Or even if you find a cheaper copy, you can easily return the book. If there is a mistake with your tuition balances, you have documentation which will help easily resolve the issue. Keeping your receipts in a small folder in your desk at home can help resolve many issues which will help you save money. 

Be Selective With Textbooks

Now, here I am not saying don't buy textbooks, because personally I have bought every textbook in University, even if I barely use it. I am also not saying to download your textbooks illegally, because honestly, that is a really bad tactic (especially if you plan on selling textbooks after, which I will explain further later). Instead, be selective as to where you buy your textbooks

I rarely buy my textbooks from my school bookstore. The only time I ever do so is when it is a custom copy which I cannot buy anywhere except my bookstore. In that case, I have no choice. 

On most occasions, I search online for textbooks. I personally prefer buying the ebooks because they are cheaper, but if I have no choice, I usually purchase a used softcover textbook if available. You can simply just Google search your ISBN or check a networking site like your School's Facebook Book Exchange to see what used books are being sold. In this instance though, make sure you are comparing prices to make sure you make the best deal possible. 

If you are really not into used books, I'd suggest checking the textbook publisher's website. Most of the time, I've found that the publisher's website sells the textbook a lot cheaper than the school book store. If you are aware of the textbook publisher, just google the Publisher's name and the ISBN of your textbook and usually it will be the first search result. I'd also suggest checking local bookstores like Chapters/Indigo. I have found many of my textbooks there (for purchase online only), which I don't mind because when you are a Plum member, you already get an online discount so you're saving more. 

My favorite website is to buy textbooks from, though, is slugbooks. Here, all you have to do is select the country which you are searching for textbooks from (CAN, US, GBR, or AUS) then search for either the ISBN or Title of the book. The page will search for all mainstream book selling service (such as Amazon, AbeBooks, BookMob, etc.) which compares the prices so you can pick the cheapest. 

When using this platform, though, ensure you are comparing these prices to your bookstore and the publisher's website because these prices are not always the cheapest route. 

After purchasing your textbooks, like I have said earlier in the post, keep your receipts and confirmation numbers! They may come in handy after! 

Selling Textbooks! 

This is crucial. Much of the time, especially in first year when programs are typically very general, you probably won't need many of these textbooks to look back on for future references. In my case, I sold my Introductory Psychology textbook and many of my general Social Sciences textbooks because I knew I would not be taking any future classes which specifically connected to these textbooks. 

I usually sell my textbooks to friends who are in the younger years--so when I was in second year, I sold all of my textbooks to a friend who was in first year. This is usually the easiest way to do it. I know because it is your friend, you feel obligated to give a huge discount, but you have to think reasonably with this. If you bought your textbook for $108 and you sell it for $10 to your friend, you are getting ripped off. You are doing them a service by not making them pay $108 for the same textbook which they could have gotten for much cheaper from you. Instead, I'd personally charge them $60. That way you both win. 

If you do not have any friends who need specific textbooks you have, you could always resort to your school's Facebook Book Exchange group where someone ought to want to buy the textbook.

As I mentioned earlier, buying ebooks illegally online is a bad tactic. This really ties in with selling textbooks. I know if you get them online for free, there is no need to sell them, but the way I see it, I enjoy selling my textbooks because during the beginning of each semester, when people are trying to buy textbooks, it just puts a little more money in my pocket that I wouldn't have if I wasn't going to be selling a textbook. I know in a larger scale, it doesn't seem that significant, but It just feels like one of those "in the moment" happiness-es for getting unexpected money! 

Food 

The freshman 15 is a real thing. Don't let anyone tell you it's not real because it does happen. Maybe not to all people, especially those who are extremely active, but it easily can happen to anyone. For that reason, I suggest to eat smart

First of all, I'd like to point out that you probably shouldn't eat food from on campus. Yes, it is easy to access and if you are there all day, you probably don't want to go off campus to buy food, especially with really tightly placed together classes. In that case bring your lunch or buy food well before your classes start off campus. Prepare for this. Campus food is usually over priced and not even that great quality. Yes it is edible and does taste pretty good, but for a $15 on campus, you could have used that money to prepare for several meals throughout the week, at home. 

Not necessarily am I saying "don't eat out" because I know, especially if you are in a new area, you want to try all the local food. In freshman year, the foodie inside of me caused me to try all of the local food on campus in a matter of 3 weeks. 

If you do plan on eating out, go to places where they give student discounts. You may get as low at 10% off, but that 10%, especially in Canada, helps relieve most of the taxes which you would have paid. 

In addition, go to places where you know what you are eating. McDonalds and Wendy's may be very cheap, but eating that everyday does add up and is very unhealthy for you. Instead, look for places locally that make their food fresh like local cafe/eateries. It may cost a little more, but at least you can name the ingredients in your food. Most of the time, these are the places that have student discounts anyways, so it is kind of a win/win scenario. 

Also, if you are eating out, order "take-out". This is going to sound bad, especially to those of you who work as servers in restaurants, but honestly who has the money to pay for tips when you're a broke student? Yeah, I know. If you do not have the money to to pay for a tip, you shouldn't be eating in store. Just order take-out and eat it at home, in the campus eatery, or in class. 

That being said, make sure if you are eating out, don't do it all the time. As I said earlier, any meal you get from a restaurant, you probably could use that money to have made several meals throughout the week from home with groceries from the grocery store. At least this way, you are completely certain what you are putting into your body and it is so much cheaper than buying a meal everyday. It is more time consuming but while making food, you could also be studying on the side to multitask. 

Me Time 

So what about spending money for myself? Honestly, I think it depends on how much you are spending for yourself. Don't compulsively spend money where it does not need to be spent. I know, University/College can be stressful and sometimes you just need to relax. That's okay. But be smart with where you are spending money. 

For example, only go to the movies on discounted days. Here in Canada, Cineplex and Landmark theaters have cheaper movies on Tuesdays, so I enjoy going to the movies mostly on Tuesdays. I know it is hard, especially with busy class/work/studying schedules, but you are watching the same movie, whether it is Tuesday of another day of the week. Why not just watch it for cheaper?

Also, for all those shop-a-holics out there, use online cash-back websites like Ebates! Whenever you buy stuff online through their website, you get cash back into your account. Quarterly, they send you a check to your house with the money you have accumulated through Cash-Back shopping. I also buy a lot of my stuff online with promo codes. You literally can type "[Store Name] Promo Code [Month] [Year]" and find at least one promo code on google that works. 

For those of you who are more of adventure seekers, make sure you check websites like Groupon, Living Social, and Wagjag to find deals for adventures at a much cheaper price. 

For all of my gaming followers, make sure when you buy games, you look for sales. I personally buy most of my games from Steam. More importantly, I only buy a mass amount of games during the Steam Summer Sale and the Steam Winter Sale. During those times, game prices dramatically drop, making them super super cheap! Yes, it is a pain to wait for game prices to drop when you want to play it now, but usually when you buy a bulk of games during these sales, you'll be busy anyways trying to finish all of those games, on top of school and work, that you won't finish them until the next sale comes around. 

Those were a couple of my money saving tips. I hope you try them out and they help you out! 

LINKS
Slugbooks: click here
Ebates: click here
Groupon: click here
Living Social: click here
Wagjag: click here
Steam: click here

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2 comments

  1. This is a really good, thorough post. I will definitely be taking note of everything you said here. I think this Back 2 School Series of posts is a great idea. You give helpful advice, and I did not even think of some of these things untill you mentioned it.
    ~Chioma @ Blue Books and Butterflies

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    1. Thanks for your lovely comment Chioma! I'm glad I gave you some great ideas for the back to school season! I hope they help you out in saving some money this year :) They just happened to be a few tips and tricks I've picked up through my first two years of university and thought others would like to take advantage of them too!

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