Browsing Tag

student finances

Other Transition

Home Away From Home: Completing a Long Distance Campus Move

April 22, 2020

Long-distance moves are already stressful and exhausting, but when your destination is a college campus with a new dorm, a full class load, and an entirely new social circle, it can feel downright overwhelming. Here are a few tips and suggestions to keep in mind as you prepare to leave the familiar comforts of the well-known behind and launch into the geographically distant academic adventures that lie ahead.

Go Into Things Healthy

It’s a good idea to take some time before your big move to ensure that you’re in tip-top physical, mental, and emotional shape as you go through the rigors of a larger move. A few suggestions for ways to do this include:

  • Getting a checkup.
  • Sleeping well in the days and weeks leading up to the move.
  • Eating healthy food.
  • Exercising.
  • Meditating and/or praying on a daily basis.

If you can pursue health and wellness in the lead up to your move, you’ll be able to weather the drama and chaos much easier.

Pack Smart

When it comes to your move you may think you’re on your own. After all, none of your friends or family are likely coming with you to live on campus. But that doesn’t mean you can’t ask friends and family for help

Pull the classic “if you come and help me pack I’ll get everyone pizza at the end of the day” pitch. This turns the event into less work for yourself as well as a fun opportunity for everyone to hang out one last time before you leave.

Plan Your Trip

Before you ever hop in the car or turn the key, make sure to carefully plan out your trip. What route will you take? Do you need to stop along the way to rest? Are you giving yourself plenty of time to get there even if you’re held up by a minor issue like traffic or an extra rest stop visit? Taking the time to plan things out can make everything more peaceful as you go.

Set Your Expectations

When you arrive on campus you’ll likely be exhausted and overwhelmed. That’s why it’s important to set your expectations ahead of time. Try to time your arrival so that you have enough time to unpack and then crash and get some rest. In addition, take time before you arrive on campus to associate yourself with several of the classic college concerns of any student, such as choosing classes, looking for extracurricular activities, nailing down financial aid, and understanding where all of the on-campus sports and exercise equipment is.

In addition, if you’re living in a dorm, associate yourself with some of the wiser considerations when it comes to moving in with a roommate. For instance, make sure to create a roommate agreement, discuss appropriate decor, and define boundaries. Before you do any of that, though, remember to be patient and strive to create a good relationship at your initial meeting.

Making It a Smooth Move

If you take the time to foster your health, inform yourself, recruit help, and plan ahead you’ll be able to make a cross-country college move much easier on your mind, body, and soul. When the big day comes, instead of feeling overwhelmed and scrambling, you’ll feel empowered and ready to embrace the adventure that lies ahead.

Remember that renters insurance and tuition insurance are musts when going away to college! GradGuard offers both so you can have even more peace of mind when going through this transitional time.

BIO: Dan Matthews is a writer with a degree in English from Boise State University. He has extensive experience writing online at the intersection of business, finance, marketing, and culture.

Other Student Life

Are You a College Student? It’s Time to Control Your Finances

April 2, 2020

Getting an education is one of the best things you can do for your financial future. However, it’s just part of the success equation and it’s easy to make financial decisions that complicate things. It’s best to take control of your finances as early as possible and it’s never too early. The tips below can help any college student take charge of their finances.

Establish a Savings Account

Saving money is something that some college students don’t think about because there’s usually a limited amount of money available. Even if that’s the case, it’s best to set aside a small amount of money to serve as an emergency fund. Things happen and you don’t want to end up in a financial bind without a solution.

Avoid Debt When Possible

The biggest debt that most college students incur is student loans. That’s because college is expensive and sometimes it’s hard to pay for tuition and the cost of living without a loan. If there is ever a way to avoid getting a student loan or any other debt, you should definitely steer clear. Some people struggle for a lifetime to pay off student loan debt. If you decide to get a loan, make sure you do so wisely by consulting with a financial aid advisor.

Monitor Your Spending

A simple financial rule that should always be followed is to spend less money than you make. It’s easier to spend more money than you actually earn by using credit cards. This is rarely a good idea and it’s usually something that people end up regretting for many years.

Limit Credit Card Use

Credit cards are surprisingly easy to get when you’re a college student, which can be unfortunate because you’re still learning about finances. Sometimes what happens is the credit cards are maxed out and not paid on time. As a result, a good number of college students end up having to repair their credit later. If you end up getting a credit card, make sure you get one with a low interest rate and pay off the balance monthly.

Stick with a Budget

Having a budget is far more important than you may realize. That’s because knowing how much money you have to spend and sticking with your commitment not to exceed your budget can help you achieve your financial goals. If you need to earn more money, consider a side gig like Uber if you have a vehicle. You’ll be considered a contractor and you can work whenever you want. Instead of receiving Form W2, Uber will use a 1099 generator and send you the information by email or regular mail.

Start Investing

If you’re working a full-time job and they provide a retirement account, make sure you take full advantage of that benefit. It’s easy to think you have plenty of time to invest in a retirement account, but that time will go by quickly. By starting at a young age, you’re more likely to achieve your retirement goals.

Maintain Insurance

Health and disability insurance are two types of insurance that most people should have. If you don’t know whether or not you have these insurance plans, check with your employer. If you don’t have them, it’s time to get them. Not having insurance is something that can have devastating consequences when it comes to your finances.

Being a college student doesn’t mean you don’t have to be diligent about your finances and the financial decisions you make now will impact your future. Since you will probably have a learning curve like most people, it’s best to read as much as possible about personal finances. You’ll be glad you did.

BIO:Brett Clawson has a degree in Business Management and has started a couple of small businesses. When he’s not focusing his time on those, he spends time with his wife and two sons. His oldest son has entered the wonderful realm of college, and he now enjoys sharing tips that he and his son have found essential for college life.

Health Other

The Doctor is Out: Non-Medical Career Paths in Healthcare

March 9, 2020

Maybe you’ve always thought about a career in medicine, but blood isn’t really your thing. Or maybe you’ve actually embarked on a career as a healthcare provider, but the road is long, and you’ve got to make ends meet while you chase your dreams. The good news is you have a lot of options for pursuing a career in the healthcare industry outside of the practice of medicine itself.

Think About What You Want

As you explore your options in the healthcare industry, you’ll want to consider not only what kind of work you want to do, but also what you need from your job. Before you accept a job, you need to ensure they offer a benefits package that serves you today as well as tomorrow, especially if you’re considering staying for the long haul. Ensuring that your prospective employers offer benefits, such as retirement and medical, dental, and vision insurance, can help protect you now and well into the future.

The Good Enough Job

If you’re not yet ready to settle into your forever job, you can still find great ways to make a solid living while you work toward your ultimate career goals. For example, if you’re a medical student looking to earn some income and garner some experience in the healthcare industry, there are a lot of great sites you can turn to. Major job boards like Indeed and Monster can help you tailor your job search to your particular requirements, while other sites like College Recruiter are dedicated specifically to helping undergraduate and graduate students connect with prospective employers.

Turning a Job into a Career

If you’re ready to start your career now instead of waiting on that advanced degree or those years of clinical training, you don’t have to abandon the healthcare industry to do it. There are endless options for stable, well-paying, and richly rewarding jobs in the healthcare industry. For instance, if computers, as well as healthcare, are at the top of your interests, then why not combine them by pursuing a career in Big Data and healthcare AI?

Or you may want to be a bit more hands-on while sparing yourself the rigors of med school. Studies show that careers in home health are among the most in-demand and fastest-growing in the US. Or, if you’re ready to commit yourself to a bit more time in school, you can build an exciting and very lucrative career with a Masters’s degree in health law and policy!

The Takeaway

Even if you feel a career in medicine isn’t for you, that doesn’t mean you have to abandon your interest in the healthcare field. Whether you’re looking for a temporary job in the industry to make ends meet while you cultivate vital professional experience, or you’re hoping to launch your professional career, your options are virtually endless. The healthcare industry has something in it for just about everyone, from health AI and Big Data to home healthcare to health law. So do a little exploring to find the career path that’s tailor-made for you!

Other Transition

5 Budget Tips for Decorating Your First Home or Apartment

November 21, 2019

Whether you’re moving into off-campus housing during college or settling into a new place post-graduation, the independence of living in your own space is exciting! Turning a new house or apartment into a home is one of the many tasks to complete once you move in. However, decorating can be costly, especially if you’re strapped for cash. Here are some decorating tips that are not only budget-friendly but will enhance your new home. 

Dual-Storage

Directly following your move, finding the time to unpack can be difficult. Figuring out where everything should go is often challenging, and you need time to rearrange furniture and items to find their ideal place. Utilizing household storage containers that are also dual-purpose furniture will go a long way in consolidating and decorating at the same time. With the functionality of keeping things orderly and put away, you can also use something like this for a side table, stacked shelf, or even a seat when sitting room is tight. 

Thrifting

Thrifting for clothes is fun and cost-effective, but have you ever looked at the furniture section of your local thrift store? You’d be surprised at the amount of couches, armchairs, and coffee tables that are available for a fraction of the price as opposed to a regular furniture shop. Most thrift stores will check to ensure that items are in good condition to sell, but you’ll be able to test it for yourself when you’re there. 

Inexpensive Accessories

There are lots of accents that are economical that will enhance your home. Colorful pillows will stand out against a couch, or a soft throw blanket draped over the back of an armchair will provide texture in the room. Pieces with different materials such as these will give visual depth, and will also add to the space instead of making it feel flat. Color coordinating your accents will make your area feel complete, drawing the eye around the room!

DIY/Repurpose

DIY is a popular trend- as it should be! Finding new ways to reuse items can save money and expand your creativity. Look through every room and see where you can find inspiration to repurpose items. One cool project is making potted plants in tea tin containers that have magnets to be able to hang on your fridge, or glass jars that can double as makeup brush holders. For wooden furniture items, refurbishing them with peel-and-stick wallpaper can be a mess-free way to add a patterned design without having to paint!

Moving into your new home is fun, but having to worry about pricey decor items isn’t. With these tips, your space can be upgraded easily and effectively. Let us know some other budget decoration ideas you’ve used in your own place!

Other Transition

The 4 Most Make-or-Break-It Factors When Choosing a College

November 4, 2019

There’s a lot to consider when choosing your future alma mater. Is attending a big, football-happy university a priority for you? What about a smaller, more private liberal arts school? Do you prefer a college town over a big city? There are dozens of factors to think about when shopping around for colleges. Here are five things to consider when choosing where you want to get your degree:  

#1. School Size 

When contemplating a small, medium, or large-sized college or university, consider how your future college’s size will affect your ability to meet people. Does it have fraternities and sororities or another way of meeting people? Does it offer any clubs and team sports that interest you?

School size also affects the class size, and class size affects how well you learn. If you do well in smaller-sized classes, look at colleges with a smaller professor-to-student ratio. Consider a larger school if you’d prefer to try your hand in big-hall lecture-style courses. 

#2. Campus 

Is your heart set on a beach campus, or do you want to attend class in the middle of the city? Some future college students couldn’t care less about where they spend their all-nighters. Others are set on studying at the most buzz-worthy campuses. But consider things beyond city size. What’s your preferred type of weather? If you grew up in Arizona and hate the cold, you probably won’t love Vermont and Alaska’s winter. If you’re looking to ski in-between classes, we don’t recommend going to Hawaii. Choose a school with a location where you can see yourself living comfortably.

#3. Major 

Does your dream school have a good program for your major? Does it even offer it? It’s easy to get wrapped up in a school’s social scene and instagramability, but don’t forget to look at its programs. For example, if you’re set on becoming a doctor, make sure your school offers a pathway to medical school. If a school doesn’t offer your desired major, see if there’s an alternative way of reaching your end goal.

Keep in mind 80% of college students change their major at least once, so don’t limit your college choice based on your future degree—especially if you think you might pivot your studies at some point. 

#4. Cost

College debt: two words that strike fear into every ramen-eating, penny-pinching college student. If a college’s tuition cost is well beyond what you can handle, don’t go into debt chasing a fun college experience. 

Here are three ways to cut down on tuition costs: 

Look into scholarships. 

Every school offers scholarships—and they’re not all athletic or academic-based. Ask schools about the scholarships they offer, and look into state and federal scholarships and awards. 

Apply for FAFSA (free application for federal student aid). 

If you’re a US citizen with a valid social security number, you can apply for a federal loan. FAFSA also includes grants and work-study programs.  

Save money. 

Put money into a savings account while in high school and save money where you can while you’re in college. The faster you pay off your student loans, the less time it has to appreciate. Remember: debt is frustrating no matter what stage of life you’re in, but luckily there are ways to manage your student debt.

In addition to worrying about pesky student debt, you also need to think about how you’ll get by as a student. Is rent pricey or feasible in your college town? What about the fuel costs? 

Consider the Big Picture 

Beyond cost, school size, campus, and academics, remember that there’s a slew of even more things to consider when choosing the right school. A college’s greek life, class count, and campus are significant factors to consider when you’re shopping around for colleges—but don’t let it be the only factors you consider. Remember to find the fit that is right for you; these are the best 4 years of your life, so make the most of it with a place you really enjoy being at.

BIO: Bailey Caldwell is a freelance journalist whose work focuses on tech, cybersecurity, and the internet. She enjoys researching and learning about new resources and technologies.

Health Other

5 Perfect Dog Breeds For Students

October 15, 2019

You may have had a dog all your childhood and are considering bringing one into your life as a student. Not surprisingly, you’re wondering which breeds are best to suit your lifestyle.

Before we get into the personalities and temperaments of some truly impressive dogs, as a student, you must consider whether you have the time and budget to care for a new addition.

Tips For Students Adopting a Dog

How Much Time Do Dogs Take?

Most dogs need around 60 minutes of exercise per day and certain breeds have high grooming requirements, taking at least 30 minutes of your day, every day.

All dogs require training. If you are opting for a puppy, this will be a large portion of your time, along with socialization.

Will you be prepared to head out on the mid-night toileting ventures? And is it viable to let your puppy out every 1-2 hours during the day as part of their toilet training routine?

Be Realistic

Being a student is stressful at the best of times, you have essays, mid-terms and are often trying to juggle a part-time job along with a social life.

You must be realistic, how does a dog or puppy fit into that? 

Can You Afford A Dog?

Can you also afford their care? Dog’s eat, a fair amount if they are a large breed. 

They also need routine veterinary care like shots, boosters, flea/worm treatments, annual check-ups, etc. This doesn’t include the monthly insurance costs to cover in an emergency or if your dog suffers a significant health issue. 

Then there are the small things, that soon add up, like bowls, leashes, collars, bedding, blankets, toys, chews etc. Puppies have a tendency to chew so you may find yourself replacing items sooner than planned! We’re not even talking about your roommates’ shoes that you need to replace as pup chewed them.

Which Breeds Are The Best?

If you are sure you can meet the care needs of your puppy, without leaving them alone for too long between lectures, study sessions and your part-time job, then there are a few breeds who are better suited to student living than others.

Chances are, your student accommodation is going to be on the smaller side, so a smaller breed would be more appropriate.

5. The Bedlington Terrier

Docile and laid back, these guys are super-adaptable and renowned for simply going with the flow. 

Despite them being a terrier, they aren’t as feisty as most. They are lively and energetic when out on walks, and always up for the next adventure. The Bedlington is also low shedding which means it won’t cause too much mess in your student digs! 

They are happy with upwards of 60 minutes exercise per day but are more than happy to curl up in a ball on their return! They come in quite high on grooming requirements, so budget regular visits to the salon when deciding if you can take one on!    

4. The Chug

The adorable cross between the Chihuahua and Pug, this small little guy won’t take up much room at all. They are super-friendly and confident, so having plenty of roomies milling around won’t phase them in the slightest. They aren’t the most active breed, and they struggle to regulate their temperature in the heat, so shorter walks are generally better for these guys. 

Be mindful if you are in a warm part of the state though, and your budget won’t cover the AC costs – these guys are prone to heatstroke. 

3. Beagle Lab Mix 

If you’re athletic and into sports, you’re more than happy spending your time outdoors and exercising. You’ll certainly need to if you take the Beagle Lab Mix on! 

This guy is super friendly and playful, but thanks to the determination of the Beagle, he’ll certainly keep you on your toes. Beagles need to be busy – so take up agility or scent work with this dog! If he’s not kept occupied he can become destructive, so you need to think long and hard before you take this guy on.

2. The Patterdale Terrier

These intelligent and feisty guys are perfect companions for those active students. They can be quite aloof, so providing their exercise needs are met, they are more than happy chilling on their own for a couple of hours. 

They are incredibly loyal, so be mindful if you have plenty of new people visiting regularly – they may take a liking to barking! Stubborn as they come, you need a solid understanding of dog training to get to grips with this guy!

A huge personality in a small body – one to certainly keep you on your toes. 

1. Golden Retriever or Labrador

A slightly bigger dog for those in more spacious accommodation, a Golden Retriever or Labrador is super friendly and sociable – they will happily accept every visitor you have!

Upwards of 60 minutes of exercise per day will keep these guys happy, but they are more than happy to come back home and chill out afterward. Super trainable and eager-to-please, this pup will be the firm favorite on campus!

Before you decide to take a dog on as a student, you must consider whether you have the time and budget to fully care for his needs. If so, consider one of our top breeds for students and don’t forget to give them a great name too! Considering pet insurance is never a bad idea either.

As always, remember to choose a breed that will suit your lifestyle and experience as a handler, as your studies should always come first. However, having a furry friend around can help boost your spirits and encourage you to be more social at college.

BIO: Robert Woods is an avid fish keeper and advocate for all things fish related, including the many mental health benefits which can be derived from keeping fish.

Career Other

Knowing How to Finance Big Purchases

October 4, 2019

Grand vacations, weddings, and house purchases are all financial commitments that you might consider in a single lifetime. They’re exciting milestones, but they can be incredibly expensive. Spreading out the purchaser’s cost with financing is the easiest pathway to take. Learn how to finance big purchases with a few tips from the professionals. Those lofty dreams are achievable with smart spending.

1. Know Your Budget

You are the only person who knows your budget. Calculating your monthly expenses, such as rent and utilities, is unique to every individual. Take a look at any leftover funds at the end of your billing cycles. These are the funds that are available to pay for your big purchase.

Figure out this amount well before heading to any store. It’s tempting to walk into a shop, listen to the sales pitch and end up with a larger purchase than you intended.

2. Consider a Large Down Payment

The best way to finance a big purchase is by putting down a large amount on the item before financing the rest of its cost, reports Discover. The down payment can be in any amount, which reduces your monthly cost and interest-rate charges.

For example, you know how much to spend on an engagement ring before you select the jewelry. Pay for 20 or 30 percent of the ring’s price right now, and finance the rest over a few months or years.

3. Use the Credit-Card Trick

Financing a large purchase on a credit card isn’t always the best idea. The interest charges across a year or longer will be staggering. As an alternative, look for cards that have an introductory period of around 18 months, encourages Equifax. Use these 18 months, which are free of interest, to pay off the debt. You end up financing the item without taking out a loan.

4. Think About Personal Loans

Almost all lenders offer some type of personal loan. You can always use this financial tool when you know that a monthly payment over a long period of time is possible. Use loans for those purchases that might be tens of thousands of dollars. You’ll secure a reasonable interest rate for a fixed period. Credit scores might dip as you apply and secure the loan, however, but they will improve with on-time payments.

5. Shop Around

You aren’t limited to your local shops for certain purchases. The Internet gives you a glimpse at the unprecedented competition. When sellers must compete, you save money.

Comparison shop online and in your town, suggests Quicken Loans. You might find the same ring or other items for hundreds of dollars less than you thought before. Open up your mind to jewelry sold from an artist or small business. There are more outlets for big purchases today than ever before.

Everyone falls into financial struggles at some point in life. Continue to assess your budget and save whenever possible. Major purchases are part of a unique life that you can be proud of as success follows your every move.

BIO:Brett has a degree in Business Management and has started a couple of small businesses. When he’s not focusing his time on those, he spends time with his wife and two sons. His oldest son has entered the wonderful realm of college, and he now enjoys sharing tips that he and his son have found essential for college life.

Health Other

Free is Better!

September 6, 2019

College is expensive! Luckily, there are loads of zero cost resources available to you on campus. You are paying thousands of dollars to attend school so get your money’s worth. Here are a few “free” resources that every student should take advantage of:

Gym/Pool: Nearly every university has a weight room and pool available to students. Check with the fitness center to see if free fitness classes are also offered.

Tennis/Racquetball/Volleyball/Basketball Courts: Not only is there free access to these facilities, but most universities also offer free equipment rentals. There are usually scheduled nights where you can drop in and play a pickup game.

Sporting Events: A lot of universities offer free admission to sporting events. Football and basketball games are always popular, but you might have just as much fun at a volleyball or tennis match. In addition, free shirts are everywhere at sporting events.

Tutors: Paying for a personal tutor can be extremely expensive, but many universities offer free tutors. In addition, utilize your university’s writing center, where qualified students will edit your essays and research papers for free.

Software: Using your student email address, most universities offer free software downloads. This typically includes Microsoft Office, Photoshop, and much more. Before you buy any software, make sure to check if it is available through your university, as you will likely get a discount.

Food: There is free food EVERYWHERE at university. If you pay attention you will see flyers for events almost every day offering free pizza, ice cream, etc. The only real cost is your time (which might not be worth that much if you play Fortnite as often the average college student).

Intramurals: There are intramurals for several sports, including flag football, volleyball, basketball, kickball, tennis, and frisbee. Intramurals are great for the guys who peaked in high school when they were the captain of the varsity basketball team, but they are also a great way to meet people and stay active. Be warned, intramurals can be very competitive. If you want to play intramurals but don’t want to get in any fights, then consider playing on a coed team.

Counseling: University may expose you to more stress then you have ever experienced in your life. It’s completely normal if you start to develop depression or anxiety. Luckily, universities offer complimentary counseling services. Do not be afraid to use these resources! You might be surprised at how many people utilize them.

Using these resources will enrich your college experience without breaking the bank. For more ways to save money, refer to the Not-Rich Guide made by students at the University of Michigan. Although this guide is specific to the University of Michigan, much of the advice is applicable wherever you go to school. Your university may even have its own “Not-Rich” guide or something similar to assist you in saving money!

Other Transition

Cutting College Costs Like a Boss

August 29, 2019

Tuition costs continue to rise every year, but one thing seems to remain constant: attending college often necessitates penny-pinching. Whether it’s eating out less to buy textbooks or applying for scholarships to avoid debt, saving money and attending college go hand in hand.

Here are some of my methods for reining in your spending, hopefully earning a buck or two on the side, and still enjoying a four- (for some five-) year education—without resorting to dumpster diving.

Read on for five tips to help you cut costs.

1. Limit eating or drinking out (unless it’s a good deal)

Scour your local watering holes for deals, become a coupon clipper, and refuse to go out unless you know you won’t have to pay full price.

In general, though, you’ll save a lot more money if you buy groceries and cook yourself. Or, if you’re fortunate enough to live close to home, you could always mooch food off your parents.

2. Student discounts

It’s incredible how many businesses will give you a discount if you flash that plastic, poorly printed student ID of yours. Restaurants, movie tickets, admission to concerts, you name it. Don’t know for sure? Just ask! Maybe you can even persuade them to give you a discount.

3. Be shrewd with textbooks

Here is some advice: get clever. Talk to classmates, read reviews on the course, and see if you really need the book for the class. If you do, consider renting instead of buying (which is generally cheaper).

Or, try to buy it cheaper online. Look on Craigslist, OfferUp, Facebook, or your college forums. You could even harass people who took the class last semester to loan you their old one.

Finally, if you can get away with buying an older edition of the same textbook, you can save a TON of money. It doesn’t work for every class, but when it can, it’s a godsend.

4. Get a side-hustle

No amount of saving will help if you don’t have even a small influx of cash. In college, your earning options are limited:

  • Get loans and go into (more) debt.
  • Beg your parents for money.
  • Apply for scholarships.
  • Get a job.
  • All of the above.

If you haven’t searched for scholarships yet, what are you waiting for? It’s free money, and sometimes you can earn them for ridiculous things. Good at duck calling? Scholarship. Is your last name Zolp? Scholarship. Check out your college’s .edu site, find some scholarships, and apply!

If you don’t want to write an essay, you could always get a job on the side. You could drive for Uber or Lyft when it’s convenient for you. Don’t have a car? Work one of the many jobs available on campus (conveniently within walking distance!). There’s no shortage of jobs if you’re willing to look.

5. Profit

Those are just a few tips, and it barely scratches the surface— college students should consider the importance of insuring essentials

Bio: Alex Enabnit, an ASU grad and certified tightwad, is an insurance and Medicare writer for Eligibility.com. In his spare time, you’ll find him trying to avoid the sun and stay cool while failing at both.

Other Student Life

Do Your Homework Before You Buy Your Books

July 22, 2019

You’ve probably heard every college student out there complain about having to buy books. You can’t really blame them though; buying books for one semester can cost hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars. Here are a few tips to help you avoid wasting money on books.

Don’t buy any books before the first day of class. This might sound crazy, but it will save you a lot of money. Every class has a “required” book list, which leads students to believe they need to have every book on the list. This is not true! Go to the first day of class and ask the professor (or the TA) how much the book will be used. They might say that you will only have one or two assignments out of the book all year or that the reading from the book is optional. Most of the time, however, the professor will probably reinforce that the book is “required,” but it still might not be true.

Talk to someone who has taken the course. Find someone who has taken the course and ask them. They will know better than anyone if you really need the $300 Introduction to Philosophy book that you are never going to read again. Students who have already taken the course will be your best resource in knowing if you actually need the books on your list. 

*Note: if someone tells you that you don’t need a book for a class and they are on academic probation, they may not be the best source of information. Talk to someone who did well in the class.

Unfortunately, there are some books that you will need; there will be no way to do well in the class without them. You can still avoid wasting money if you play it smart.

Buy/rent from Amazon or another online site. You should probably never buy a book from your university bookstore. It will be overpriced, and the store will give you very little money if you resale to them at the end of the semester. The exact book you need can easily be located online using the ISBN number. It is very rare that you won’t be able to find the book you are looking for on Amazon, Redshelf, or some other site. If it is cheaper to rent than buy, always rent (especially when dealing with textbooks). You’re never going to even think about opening your Econometrics book after the semester is over. It won’t happen. You can rent a digital version that you can access on your computer or a hard copy that gets mailed to you. 

Consider buying an older edition of the textbook. There may be a class that will require the 6th edition of the textbook. However, the 5th edition will be nearly identical to the 6th edition and will be much more affordable. As long as major changes weren’t made to the text, you will be fine buying older versions of the textbook. This is something you can check with people who have taken the course. You are not the first student that has attempted to use the 5th edition instead of the 6th. Find someone who did and see how they fared. 

The only thing worse than buying expensive books is buying expensive books you don’t need. Or that you could have rented for much less. Do your homework before you buy your books, follow these tips from GradGuard, and you will save thousands of dollars during your time in college.