No More Wallet Woes

Before beginning college last year, if I saw a dime on the street I usually wouldn&#039t stop to pick it up. It&#039s just a dime, I would think, and continue walking.

Oh, how foolish I was back then! Now that I&#039m a college student (read: broke) I not only have studied Freud, analyzed Paradise Lost, and started a ten-page research paper at 2 a.m. on its due date, I have also learned the value of a dollar &#039 er, a dime. Heck, even pennies add up when you&#039re living off Ramen noodles and EasyMac.

Fortunately, scouring the ground and rummaging beneath couch cushions for loose change isn&#039t the only way to have cash in college. Here are some money-saving tips from someone who&#039s been there &#039 rather, is still there:

1. Shop for used textbooks on Amazon.com, Half.com, or CampusBooks.com instead of paying full list price at the campus bookstore. Better yet, find a friend who took the class last semester and buy or borrow the book from him. Also, wait until after the first day of class to purchase your books &#039 oftentimes professors list many books on the syllabus, but don&#039t even refer to half of them in class, so check with your prof to make sure you actually need every book listed.

2. Do you really need to bring a car with you to college? I didn&#039t, and saved $300 a semester on a parking spot &#039 not to mention tons of money on gas! Consider bringing a bike with you instead. If leaving your car at home is not an option, once you&#039re at school you can still save money on gas by biking, walking, car-pooling or using public transit buses.

3. Save your old water bottles and soda cans and recycle them for extra change &#039 it adds up!

4. Bottled water? Better yet, buy a BRITA water filter pitcher and refill your water bottles &#039 not only will this save you money on buying flats of bottled water, it&#039s also less wasteful for the environment.

5. Discount stores like Costco, Sams&#039s Club, and Smart & Final are great for buying nonperishable foods &#039 Easy Mac and Ramen noodles, anyone? &#039 toiletries such as shampoo or lotion, and school supplies. For bulk items that are too much for one person, go in together with a classmate. You can stock up for the whole semester &#039 and at a much cheaper price than if you shopped week after week at a regular grocery or drug store.

6. Coupons. Clip them! Use them!

7. Do you really need to go shopping for new clothes? Consider holding a &#039swap&#039 with your friends &#039 score &#039new&#039 outfits, and get rid of those clothes you&#039re tired of. Or shop at outlet malls or thrift shops for bargains &#039 and cool vintage finds.

8. Many restaurants, movie theaters, and shops give discounts for students &#039 you just have to ask and show them your student ID card.

9. Lastly, save your change &#039 and dimes you&#039ve picked up off the sidewalk! &#039 in a jar. Over the weeks and months, it really adds up. Case in point: some of my friends paid for a spring break road trip entirely with their change jar!

Dallas Woodburn is a sophomore Creative Writing major at the University of Southern California. Her new book of short stories, 3 a.m., is available at amazon.com and at her website, www.zest.net/writeon.

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