7 Frugal Tips for a New School Year

It is back to school time yet again. Many schools have already started and many are beginning right after Labor Day. Are you ready? Here are some frugal tips for back to school just for graduate students:

  • Books: Books can be very expensive! One of the best things that you can do is compare prices between your school’s bookstore and online sites. One of my favorite sites is AddALL, where you can search for a book and the site lists the price of the book (used and new) at 41online bookstores so you don’t have to check all of them individually. They even have Amazon and Half.com, two of the most popular. Don’t forget to include the price of shipping!
  • School Supplies: Before you start shopping make a list of items that you already have. Can you reuse that folder or notebook from last year? Do your parents have any supplies sitting in their basement that you could use? Reuse as many items as you can, then make a strict list of what you need so you don’t get detoured when you shop. Stores generally have great Labor Day and post-Labor Day sales if you can wait.
  • Clothes: I know we are in graduate school, but who doesn’t enjoy a stellar first day of school outfit? Why not find your new outfit in your own closet? Take an hour or so to look through your closet. Try on some clothes that you haven’t worn in a while. Mix and match. If you still want to shop, find a few pieces that you can mix and match with what you already have.
  • Apartment: Looking for a few things for your apartment/dorm? Use freecycle  to find some free, used items or go thrifting rather than buying new.
  • Student Work: If you are thinking about getting a job (or a new job) while you are in school look for one sooner rather than later. It can be easy to push it off until things settle down a bit, but by that time you will need money and many of the more lucrative options might be gone. One of the best options is on-campus work since it tends to be more flexible and cuts down on transportation costs. Check with your school for available options.
  • Transportation: Think about taking the bus, biking, or walking to save money. Even if you have a car there may be some trips that you can do via bus, bike, or foot. Check out some of the amenities within walking/biking/busing distance of your home and school such as grocery stores, banks, drug stores, libraries, coffee shops, etc. Gas can be very costly, even forgoing the car for just a few trips can save quite a bit.
  • Lunch: Consider bringing your lunch rather than buying it, this can save quite a bit of money. Brown Bag lunches don’t have to be boring, they can be both frugal and creative. Check out these sites for some good ideas: mint, yahoo, ivillage, and howstuffworks.

I hope that these tips can help you start the new school year with a little more cash in your pocket. Happy New School Year!

Join the Conversation: What are your frugal back to school tips?

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