The Secret Ways to Save Money on College Supplies

Parents and students face the expensive and rising cost of college tuition and college supplies, this makes it difficult to stay on budget or find ways to save money before quarter or semester starts.  The basic requirements of what it takes to attend the first class, second or third requires constant adjustment to the overall college budget, the sum of it all ends up with a very expensive price tag.

ways to save money

The average student spends approximately $1.200 a year on the necessities to attend classes. This is an increase of 82% in the last decade, according to the U.S Public Interest Research Group. 

The cost of college supplies isn’t even including a computer which is an essential (or a requirement) for college students today. And the price tag for college supplies rises dramatically when the student lives on-campus in the dormitories. So, you might be asking yourself right now, is there a way to save money without breaking the bank and staying in college without going completely broke before school starts?

The answer to your question is yes, below is a list of four ways to save as a college student living on-campus or off-campus and graduate without breaking the bank on college supplies.

Create a List, Plan ahead and Map out your alternatives 

Answer: What do you need to make it to your courses or classes? For instance, textbooks, supplies (pens, calculator, notebooks, book bag, pencils, highlighters, etc.), use that basic list as your gage for adding up other costs such as, dormitory items (beddings, towels, toiletries, coffeemakers, lamps, etc.) if you decide to live on-campus.

The first option is to look around your house for these items, which is a convenient and instant saving to stay on-budget before classes start. The other option is to ask close family and friends, if they have any unused items that you may be able to use towards your college investment. Your third option is to shop ahead of time before the marketing and advertising starts for stores to increase costs per the increase demand. And last, go to stores like Dollar King or the Dollar Store as a great way to save on basic essentials. 

Visit: The Checklist [Source: CollegeBoard]


Textbooks are heavy in weight and cost, and can range between $30 and upward to $200 each depending on your course and level in college. It is recommended to not start with the student bookstore, because it’s typically the most expensive place to purchase your college textbooks.

The best recommendation is to get your course books as early as possible so the student bookstore is your last option or not an option at all.

Answer: What books do you need to succeed in each of your courses? 

Try to obtain the list of books as early as possible to give yourself time to research the best options. Typically the best option is purchasing it on-line or renting it on-line. Decide what you prefer first to save yourself time and money, then once you’ve made that decision look at different websites.

Note: Renting books typically have a limited amount of time that you can keep the book for.

Recommended Sites for Ways to Save on Textbooks




Living on-campus

Most students who have never seen a dorm room are shocked by how unequipped it is at first sight, most dorm rooms are expected to have the basic furnishings: a bed, dresser, desk, a chair and sometimes an attached washroom.

However you’ll probably want to make it feel more like home, so you’ll need to purchase a few new items to stay organize, maybe even add more light to the room with a lamp and a rug to warm up the room with colour. These items are basic, but the costs of buying basics quickly rises when you think you need more to make it liveable and feel like home. Before you head off to go shopping, create a list of what you’ll need to make it feel more welcoming, warm or like home.

Consider the following options first before buying everything new at Ikea:  look around your home first, use or ask friends and family if they might know of anyone selling these items. These are the best options to consider, because you’ll get it at a very inexpensive price or sometimes free—depending on who or where you are getting it from.

[Read: How To Eliminate Student Loans]

You’ll need a computer to get through college

More than likely you’ll need to purchase a computer, whether you decide to go with a desktop or notebook/laptop—that is up to you. The preferred option is usually a notebook/laptop because it’s portable, you may want to work in the library, at a coffee shop, take notes on your notebook/laptop in-class or get work done elsewhere.

The computer can be easily the second or first most expensive purchase between your textbooks and furnishing your dorm (if you live on-campus), however with the right information and knowledge to understand the best way to save on the purchase of a new computer—you may end up spending only $200 (or sometimes less) for a basic notebook/laptop to use throughout college for Skyping, taking notes, researching or writing notes.

The best options is to try Groupon and Newegg, these are great options to find something in the $200 price range. Or, if you are lucky you may find something under $200 at

Note: Weigh out the factors of practicality and function, for instance as a English major a basic computer is perfect but for an Engineering major a higher end laptop/notebook may be more justifiable to exceed $200.