“The single most powerful asset we all have is our mind. If it is trained well, it can create enormous wealth in what seems to be an instant.”– Robert T. Kiyosaki
Nowadays, when college comes to mind the first thing our focus is drawn to is the tuition. Without a doubt this is for good reason. College tuition has skyrocketed in recent years causing a massive bubble, and not to mention incredible turmoil in America’s future economy. Due to students who are riddled in debt; the future economy will see (and to some point has already seen) delays in home ownership, and the decision to start families. Although it may seem virtually impossible to save on college costs, I’m here to tell you there is! In today’s blog I’m going to discuss college costs that we can control specifically textbooks, commuter costs, and housing. Stay tuned, to find out the Three Biggest College Expenses and how you can save and prepare for them:
Text Books – Textbooks are probably the biggest college expense next to Tuition. If you take enough classes you can easily rack up a 1k bill in text books in a semester. However I have a few ways you can take on this expense so that it is virtually no cost to you.
The first rule is to never buy your books from the University bookstore. Many times bookstore prices are crazy inflated, and for a book you will need for 15 weeks it’s usually not worth it. Instead your first stop should be your town library or university library. Essentially if the library has the book, you can keep renewing the book for 15 weeks; this results in you never having to spend a dime on your text book. Now it’s possible, the library won’t have your textbook, or worse, the right edition required for your class. No worries at all! Still steering clear of your University Bookstore, the next stop is to try Google Books!
Many times Professors will only require you to read a few chapters from an entire book. Luckily Google Books has previews of many chapters of educational texts. I would use google books to see if you can locate those chapters, or the book in it’s entirety, as you might not need to spend any money at all on a textbook.
Another idea should be a site like Amazon or my go-to, Ebay. Both Amazon and Ebay allow you to purchase books from outside vendors which allow for the pricing to be competitive; and for you to get a better deal.
Lastly, many times you can also find students who have previously taken your class who are selling their books; many universities have Facebook Pages dedicated to educational items for sale by students which again can lead to a great deal. The bottom line is that tuition is expensive enough; you should be spending anything on educational textbooks in 2018!
Commuter Costs – Ah the days of being a commuter. Going to a mostly commuter school I realized and started to appreciate the art of creating an accommodating schedule for myself. The last thing you want to do is have to constantly leave campus to go to work or because you have massive downtime. To respect your time, energy, and gas money; you want to focus on optimizing your schedule. What that means is scheduling your classes on 2-3 days out of the week. So say instead of taking a class a day, pack your schedule full of classes so you are only on campus just a few days a week; this will respect your time and the amount of gas you spend getting to campus. To take things a step further apply for an on campus job. What this does is it really maximizes your time and availability on the days you are on campus. If you do have any downtime in between classes you can put in a few hours at work! By just taking this approach you’ll save thousands of dollars in gas money and wear and tear on your car over the course of your college career.
Off-Campus Housing Costs – Housing is one of the biggest expenses a person can endure, whether in college or not. Yet in college how can you beat or drastically reduce this expense? Assuming you do not have the option to stay at home close to rent free (that’s a no brainer!) there are some ways to make a smart financial decision all the while achieving your autonomy. The first step should be getting roommates to split the cost of rent. This makes it really easy for everyone to save some money while having a roof over their head.
I know what you might be thinking; in my area rents are so high I’d need like 8 roommates to afford rent! Being from New Jersey, and a Landlord, I get it! Here is a little insider information that might help. Landlords love people who will watch after their property. To get a reduced rent ask the landlord two things: Can I help be your property manager; I’ll make sure the property is in good condition, field tenant phone calls, remind people to pay on time; do this in exchange for cheaper rent.
The next question you might want to ask is if you can sublet the space. So say you pay 1k/mo for a 2 bedroom unit; what would happen if you started to AirBNB out the second room? This way you could potentially make your rent back and live for free. Of course you want to run all of these ideas by your landlord first as there might be certain stipulations in your lease and location.
Bonus – Just for getting through this longer than usual blog I have a little bonus on how you can allocate money for Textbooks, commuter costs, and housing costs all before stepping foot in college. The answer lies within investing. As some of you might have guessed by now, I love my low cost ETF’s and index funds. The reason I love these types of funds is because they can see a growth rate of 5-10% if not more! But they take time to grow. So let’s talk hypothetical here: say in high school you worked really hard part time and were able to make 1-2k. Now by investing that 1-2k in a mutual fund (529 college savings plan) or index fund, your money can continue to grow exponentially. Which means that your money continues to replenish itself. Without a doubt, that money which will continue to grow can help with textbooks, housing, and commuter costs. Additionally the money that you save from the aforementioned costs is really just money back in your pocket that you can save, spend, or invest.
Conclusion – When attending any higher education institution tuition is, and should be, your main financial focus. However other expenses that we might not realize creep in. These other expenses with some planning and creative thinking can all but be drastically reduced or completely eliminated. What are your thoughts? What are some strategies that you think students can use to reduce their college expenses? Let us know in the comments below!