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Sneaky ways to save on college living costs

Stressed about having enough money to square your college-bound child away this fall? Here’s how to get the most bang for your buck.

Your college-bound child will be grateful when you send them off with everything they need for their first time away from home. Credit: Colourbox Your college-bound child will be grateful when you send them off with everything they need for their first time away from home.
Credit: Colourbox

As if tuition wasn’t expensive enough, buying a computer, textbooks and all the dorm gear to get your grad squared away is a huge expense for parents. We talked with Jeff Gawronski from DormCo.com – an e-retailer focusing on dorm room furnishings – for tips on ways to save.

Don’t just rely on the campus bookstore
Textbooks cost hundreds and buying them can be a waste when you’re only going to use them for one semester. Gawronski’s tip: rent. “If it’s a core textbook you may use down the road, buy it, but if not, rent and when you do price-compare between big rental companies,” he advises. “It’s extra work and takes more time, but it’s worth it if you’re really looking to cut costs.”

Talk to the roommate before you go shopping.
It may sound obvious, but Gawronski says a lot of parents end up overbuying things for the dorm because their son or daughter didn’t talk to their roommate beforehand. “Splitting the costs of having one roommate bringing the TV and one bringing the mini-fridge, for example, saves the hassle of buying something you don’t need and trying to return it for a full refund,” he says. Even knowing who is bringing little things, like throw pillows for a communal futon or a dry-erase board for the door, can be talked about ahead of time so both roommates don’t end up buying the same thing.

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Do one-stop dorm shopping.
Places that specialize in dorm furniture and décor like DormCo.com and Dormify.com offer everything in one place so you can save big on shopping. “DormCo.com has a flat-rate $2.95 shipping deal on your entire order, so you won’t break the bank,” says Gawronski.

Teach students how to save.
A lot of college learning happens outside the classroom, especially when it comes to real world living. “Students can take on an inexpensive monthly bill to learn budgeting, like their cell phone or iPad data, or allow them a certain budget they have to stick by,” Gawronski says. This is one skill they’ll use for life.

Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence

 
 
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