If your child is heading off to college for the first time this fall, the rising costs of tuition, fees and housing can easily stretch your family’s finances before you’ve even considered how to budget for textbooks, dorm room materials, new clothing, and other supplies. For cost-cutting solutions and ideas on how to use special sales and offers to your advantage during the back-to-school shopping season, take a look at our suggestions here:
Take stock of what you already own: Of course, items like notebooks, pens, post-it notes and highlighters aren’t going to be at the top of your list of major back-to-school expenses. On the other hand, overspending on supplies such as these is easy to do, and can chip away at funds that are needed for big-ticket items. Before you head out to an office supply store, it’s a good idea to grab a bin and go through your home to collect what you already have on hand. Once you’ve taken this step, you may want to consider buying much of what you still need at a dollar store, or shopping with a friend at a wholesaler like Costco where you can buy in bulk and split the costs.
Start following your favorite retailers on social media: For bigger purchases such as laptops and dorm room furniture, keeping tabs on your favorite retailers through social media sites like Facebook or Twitter can save you a bundle. With the back- to-school shopping season now in full swing, many stores are offering their loyal followers money-saving incentives like coupons, exclusive offers, and updates on important sales.
Buy your textbooks used, rent them or download them: With the staggering prices of college textbooks, it’s encouraging to know that there are in fact many ways to cut costs in this area. First, consider buying textbooks used from online services such as Amazon, eBay and eCampus.com. To ensure that you’re getting the best deals, you can compare prices on sites such as CheapestTextBooks.com or do an online search for used books using the unique “ISBN” (International Standard Book Number) of your required textbooks. Another option is to rent textbooks from sites such as Barnes & Noble, BookRenter and eCampus.com—just be sure to factor in shipping costs and potential late fees. Buying or renting digital versions of your textbooks that can be downloaded to an e-reader can also save you much-needed cash.
Watch prices drop with Jet.com: If you’re unfamiliar with how Jet.com works, the back-to -school shopping season is an opportune time to try this site. Jet.com offers everyday low prices on a wide range of products including college essentials from dorm décor and furniture to electronics and clothing. They also offer the opportunity to save even more money by opting out of free returns and by taking advantage of a price adjustment feature which lowers the price on certain items in your shopping cart when you add specially tagged items to it. You’ll also get free shipping on orders of $35 plus, and from now until September 16 2016, fifteen percent off of your first three orders.
Enjoy cash back shopping: Shopping portals like Ebates help you access great bargains on thousands of online retailers, including specialty boutiques as well as major retailers like Macy’s, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and eBay. What’s more, they also share a percentage of the commissions they earn with consumers in the form of cash back. Members are paid quarterly through check or PayPal. Join for free right now, and they’ll also give you a $10 welcome bonus. For more information, visit www.ebates.com.
Looking for additional funds to cover your college-related expenses? A Personal Loan from The Police Credit Union is an ideal way to pay for back-to-school items like tuition and books, computers, and even dorm furniture and supplies. With a low, fixed rate, The Police Credit Union offers personal loans that allow you to borrow up to $25,000 for any purpose with terms up to 60 months. Has your college spending already resulted in mounting credit card debt? Consider using this loan to consolidate your high-rate credit card balances. For details on applying to The Police Credit Union for a Personal Loan, visit https://www.thepolicecu.org/accounts-services/personal-loans.