5 Easy Ways to Shop Smart and Save Money in College
Are You A Broke College Kid?
Living the college life can be extremely expensive. Many students are slowly coming to the realization that the start of school means going back to being broke. But there are ways to save money! It is important to know how to budget, and STAY on that budget! With these 5 tips, you can learn some simple ways to save up some cash so you won’t feel depressed every time you see your wallet.
1. Utilize the Dollar Store
Some people are very skeptical about shopping at a dollar store. Some people think they have crappy products, some are afraid of knock offs and others just don’t want to be seen in one. But shopping at a dollar store can really help you stay on a budget.
You can save tons of money on normal, everyday goods by buying them at a dollar store… for a dollar… instead of for $3-$5 at a normal grocery store. I almost always buy my cleaning supplies at the dollar store- they work just as well and cost so much less!
Another item you can buy at the dollar store is makeup. Ladies, you can save SO much money by looking for makeup at the dollar store. Just keep your eyes out when you go to one and you will be able to find some great brands, such as Maybelline, Covergirl and NYColor, for up to 90% less then any other stores! Men, you guys can get all your bathroom and grooming supplies like gel and deodorant for the same markdowns.
The selection will always vary and they will never have the same items, but it is worth it to poke your nose in every now and again.
Another great item to buy at the dollar store is frozen fruits and veggies. I wouldn’t advise buying the frozen meals-they are generally super unhealthy- or meats-they are generally heavily processed and filled with water and chemicals. But I do advise buying frozen fruits- $1 for a bag is super cheap and they are great for smoothies! Also buy their frozen veggies; my favorite is a fajita blend they have that includes yellow and red peppers with onions. It is already all sliced and ready to be thrown into a skillet! Saves you money and time. If you are weary about products, just read the ingredients label or the nutritional value to assure yourself it is worth buying.
2. Learn how to use Ebay
Ebay can be quite daunting to those who have never used it, but it is a great website when used properly. I have saved so much money on books, makeup and jewelry. The best thing to do on Ebay to save money is when you are searching for an item, change the search results to show the cheapest items (cost + shipping) first, so that you can see the beginning price point and go from there.
Don’t be afraid of buying things from China or Japan, most of their items are quality products and so affordable! Plus many Ebay retailers will have a money back guarantee, so you will feel assured that you are getting a good product.
Most Ebay sellers rely heavily on their “star” rating (how happy customers are with their items) so they will do whatever need be to keep their star rating up-which means you can feel confident in what you are buying. Personally I hate bidding and find it really frustrating, so my special tip is to search for your specific product then change the search results to ending soonest. This will show you the items that have the shortest bidding time left. This way you have more of a chance of scoring that certain item for cheaper since you do not have to wait days on end and battle multiple bidders. I generally find one that is ending within 30 minutes and with few to no bids. That way you only have to watch and bid on it for a limited amount of time and will have a greater chance of winning it!
3. Coupon when needed
First off, I am NOT telling you to be a super couponer/hoarder. That is unhealthy, unnecessary and a waste of your time. What I DO mean is to use coupons smart and efficiently.
For instance, say you are running low on your shampoo. You know you will be going to the store in the next week or so. At this point go online and Google the brand/type and see if they have any coupons online. There are also websites that gather coupons that may also end up in your Google search.
Simple, easy and efficient way to save money on everyday items! It might also be helpful to invest in a Sunday newspaper every other week to just cruise through the coupons and see if there are any you can use in the next two weeks. It might seem like something little, but the savings do add up over time.
4. Sign up for store emails
This is a great way to see specials on items you may need or really want. I sign up for emails to stores I shop at the most so that I know when they have sales or specials. This way you can go on a shopping spree when you know there is a sale and try to keep your shopping trips down cost wise. This is also a great way to stay on top of specials and limited time offers. I sign up for ELF emails because I love their products and will wrack up my bag on their website but wait until I get the email saying free shipping or offering a great deal until I actually buy. This can help you save money on items you know you will eventually buy.
5. Don’t be afraid of the Goodwill
The goodwill can be a great place to shop. Everything there is so inexpensive, which allows you to shop with little worries about emptying your wallet. The goodwill is a great place for college kids to score furniture for super low prices. An old roommate and I once bought a futon mattress that was in perfect condition for $5! You never know what you will find at the Goodwill, which also makes shopping there fun. Clothes are also very inexpensive at the goodwill; and sometimes you can find some amazing deals. I’ve gotten a Jessica McClintock dress fro $2.50 at the Goodwill. So take some extra time and browse through every once and a while.