Back to School on a Budget

Back to school: whether you dread or look forward to it, it’s an inevitable endeavor we all must face.  Unfortunately, the start of another school year means there are additional expenses to plan for.  Here are our top tips for saving as much as possible.

1.  Learn to cook ASAP!
If you have a little extra time during the summer, take time to learn how to cook to prepare yourself for the school year.  This is especially important for students living off campus for the first time.  Cooking your own meals is way cheaper than getting fast food every day, not to mention much healthier!

2.  Use your meal plan
For those of you still living on campus, take advantage of your meal plan.  In a recent survey, we found that UNL students spend about $300 a semester on eating out, even when they have a meal plan.  Remember: each time you eat out, you’re paying for two meals instead of one by not using your meal plan!

3.  Invest in a Coffee Maker
You may be in the routine of stopping at Starbucks every morning and grabbing coffee, but that expensive habit is costing more than you think.  For example, spending $4.25 on a grande cinnamon dolce latte 5 days per week adds up to over $1,100 a year.  Instead, buy your own coffee maker (many are under $100) and brew your own at home.

4.  Be Textbook Savvy
Textbooks might be the most despised back-to-school expense of them all.  Before buying a textbook, find out if you have friends in the class and offer to split the cost of the book and share it.  You also can check online and find a cheaper alternative-just make sure you’re buying the right edition.  If you really want to buy from the bookstore, try buying it used or renting your book.

5.  Find Free Events
UNL has tons of free events, especially during the beginning of the school year. You and your friends are probably going to look for stuff to do, and there’s no better place to look than on campus.  If you’re living in the dorms or suites, don’t pass up floor events.  They often have food, prizes, and you just might meet some of your closest friends.

6.  Don’t Slack!
Getting back into the ease of studying may be tough, but don’t let a couple of bad grades early in the semester put you at a disadvantage.  This tip might not save you money now, but it will help you prevent failing a class and having to take it over again, which will cost you hundreds of dollars.

Post written by Amanda Owens, SMMC Program Assistant