If you live in the United States, you know that college tuition is an expensive hot button issue. If you have been to college, you most likely have student loans. While loans can be helpful while you’re in school, it can get really scary to think about paying them off. Loans do not typically cover the cost of living, utilities, car notes, etc.
I wanted to put together a little post about a few things I do to save here and there. It may not be much, but hopefully you can find something here that saves you a few dollars!
I don’t remember how I heard about this website, but it has saved me a lot of money over the years, and I’ve even been able to redeem the points for gift cards. The best part is that the program is free, and there is a super convenient Chrome extension. To be honest, I am NOT an affiliate of the Honey Gold program. But I do have a referral link just in case you want to try it. (I may in the future become an ambassador, but I need more followers. 😀)
Let me show you how it works!!
Just go to www.joinhoney.com, or click on my referral link. It is recommended to install the extension for your browser. I believe it works for nearly any updated browser (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, etc.). Then as you do your regular shopping, Honey will shop for the best price for you! It will automatically apply different discount codes in the shopping cart. If there are no discount codes available, it will most likely give you some sort of “cash back” in the form of points. The little extension icon will turn orange:
All you have to do is click on it, and Honey will do the work for you!
I have yet to find an online store where Honey does not work. You can also add items to a “Droplist,” and Honey will alert you when the price goes down. That way you don’t have to worry about finding the best deal. I’ve used this on many of my textbooks and school supplies.
You can even use it while ordering pizza! Which is pretty cool. I’ve redeemed most of my points for Groupon and Target gift cards.
Don’t pay full price for textbooks. Please don’t do it. We were offered an $800 package for just our first semester books and I am so glad I did not take it. I ended up spending about $315 instead by doing my research and looking for deals.
The first thing I do when I get a textbook list is I google the name of the textbook and PDF. So for example, I would search “psychiatric mental health nursing 8th edition pdf”
I have found several textbooks this way. If I didn’t find the textbook, sometimes I found the supplemental study guide or other resources that accompany the book. ALWAYS search for your books like this first, unless you absolutely 100% need a physical copy of the book.
One of my favorite websites is Book Depository. They have very competitive pricing and free shipping. I have never run into any stock or customer service issues with them either. Use this website when you need to keep your books. They are an Amazon company but they do not offer rentals or Kindle versions.
We all know and love Amazon. You can find new, used, Kindle, rentals, etc. If you have been told by upperclassmen that they did not keep the book, I would go ahead and rent it. With Amazon, if you rent a book and then decide you want to keep it, you can buy the book and the cost of the rental is applied toward the purchase.
Abebooks is also another great website. They have low prices and a very large inventory including rare books and fine art. I also enjoy using their advanced search feature that allows you to search by price, publisher date, and edition.
One last helpful tip is that a lot of school libraries have these textbooks on reserve. If you are really in a pinch, you can head to the library and look for your book. You could probably make photocopies (or use your phone camera) for the pages you need.
I reuse binders, folders, dividers, anything else I can repurpose. I seldomly purchase brand new supplies for a new semester, unless I know I need it. I buy pens and pencils because I lose them.
I have also started to “go paperless” with my notes. I was getting so frustrated with how much paper sat on my floor at home. Nursing school powerpoints are no joke. Last semester, I created folders on my Mac for each class, exam, and clinical. It’s good for the environment and your back! Our school has printing included in the tuition, but I know many schools who do not.
Some people really need those handwritten notes in order to study. I am one of those people! So instead I bought a cheap whiteboard from Wal-Mart and installed it on my wall. I study on my white board and it wastes zero paper. When I fill it up, I take a picture of my notes with my phone and upload it to the appropriate folder!
Any papers or notes that the instructors give us are scanned and put in my computer. If I need a paper copy, I keep it in a binder or folder on my bookshelf. This is what my folders look like on my Mac—
Love it or hate it, you gotta do it. Listen, y’all. I rarely spend money on things I don’t need. When I do, it’s because I’m rewarding myself (after finals, getting a new job, winning an award, etc.). To be honest, I AM in a lot of debt. Should I be the best source of financial advice? No. But I am a real nursing student with real life problems, and I just want to share how I’ve managed to stay afloat.
I use excel to break down my income and bills. I give myself a little bit of spending money (for vending machine snacks or the occasional post-test celebratory adult beverage). My opinion is that you still need room to live your life. Just don’t spend $300 on shoes you don’t need if you cannot afford it.
We don’t have cable TV, I’m on the cheapest phone plan my service offers, I make my lunches/dinners 95% of the time, and I only purchase new clothes when the ones I have get so worn out that I have no choice.
I always make a grocery list, I shop at Dollar Tree and Aldi, and our house is barely decorated. I’ve switched (reluctantly) all of my luxury or non-drug store makeup brands to drugstore brands. I even tried to grow some of my own vegetables and herbs, but it turns out I do not have a green thumb. 👎🏻
Some of you make think I’m crazy for having this type of lifestyle, but I am doing what I need to do to make it through school. I know that it is temporary. I know that when I start making a better salary, I’ll have a different budget!
I put a certain percentage of my paychecks toward school. That savings account is non-negotiable and I use it to pay for various school expenses from supplies to scrubs.
I hope you found something here of value to you! What do you do to save money?
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