No More Wallet Woes

Before beginning college last year, if I saw a dime on the street I usually wouldn’t stop to pick it up. It’s just a dime, I would think, and continue walking.Oh, how foolish I was back then! Now that I’m a college student (read: broke) I not only have studied Freud, analyzed Paradise Lost, and started a ten-page research paper at 2 a.m. on its due date, I have also learned the value of a dollar ‘ er, a dime. Heck, even pennies add up when you’re living off Ramen noodles and EasyMac.

Fortunately, scouring the ground and rummaging beneath couch cushions for loose change isn’t the only way to have cash in college. Here are some money-saving tips from someone who’s been there ‘ rather, is still there:

1. Shop for used textbooks on Amazon.com, Half.com, or CampusBooks.com instead of paying full list price at the campus bookstore. Better yet, find a friend who took the class last semester and buy or borrow the book from him. Also, wait until after the first day of class to purchase your books ‘ oftentimes professors list many books on the syllabus, but don’t even refer to half of them in class, so check with your prof to make sure you actually need every book listed.

2. Do you really need to bring a car with you to college? I didn’t, and saved $300 a semester on a parking spot ‘ not to mention tons of money on gas! Consider bringing a bike with you instead. If leaving your car at home is not an option, once you’re at school you can still save money on gas by biking, walking, car-pooling or using public transit buses.

3. Save your old water bottles and soda cans and recycle them for extra change ‘ it adds up!

4. Bottled water? Better yet, buy a BRITA water filter pitcher and refill your water bottles ‘ not only will this save you money on buying flats of bottled water, it’s also less wasteful for the environment.

5. Discount stores like Costco, Sams’s Club, and Smart & Final are great for buying nonperishable foods ‘ Easy Mac and Ramen noodles, anyone? ‘ toiletries such as shampoo or lotion, and school supplies. For bulk items that are too much for one person, go in together with a classmate. You can stock up for the whole semester ‘ and at a much cheaper price than if you shopped week after week at a regular grocery or drug store.

6. Coupons. Clip them! Use them!

7. Do you really need to go shopping for new clothes? Consider holding a ‘swap’ with your friends ‘ score ‘new’ outfits, and get rid of those clothes you’re tired of. Or shop at outlet malls or thrift shops for bargains ‘ and cool vintage finds.

8. Many restaurants, movie theaters, and shops give discounts for students ‘ you just have to ask and show them your student ID card.

9. Lastly, save your change ‘ and dimes you’ve picked up off the sidewalk! ‘ in a jar. Over the weeks and months, it really adds up. Case in point: some of my friends paid for a spring break road trip entirely with their change jar!

Dallas Woodburn is a sophomore Creative Writing major at the University of Southern California. Her new book of short stories, 3 a.m., is available at amazon.com and at her website, http://www.zest.net/writeon.

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