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Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

Going Nuts? I can help you understand coupon terms and abbreviations

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The summer has flown by and is quickly coming to an end. This is a tough time for some parents as they say goodbye to their children and send them off to college. We all know that college can take quiet a bite out of your finances. Don’t be tricked into thinking you need to buy a thousand things for your future college student to have.  This is similar to the moment when they first came in the world… think of all the baby gear folks said you needed and you never used once…

New Books
Parents think that their child needs the newest edition of every book assigned in their classes. Most of the time this is unnecessary and can cause you to spend a lot more money than needed. Renting your books from an online vendor such as chegg.com or amazon.com can save a lot. Sometimes a book is not needed or can be found in the university’s library. After a couple classes it will become obvious if you need the book or not and professors usually give about a week grace period for students to get their books, so sometimes waiting it out is the best idea.

A Car
Universities love to charge you crazy amounts of money just to keep a car parked on campus for your college student to have. Living on campus eliminates the need for a car. Everything is within walking distance and if they need a ride there are plenty of upper classmen to help out!

As a college student you will definitely need to print a lot of papers but that doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot of money on a fancy printer. There are plenty of places to print on campus, ranging from the library to various buildings. Some schools within the college offer free printing! If you still want to buy a printer check out this awesome printer here.

Big Meal Plan
If your college-bound kid is living on campus then they more than likely will need a meal plan (most colleges make meal plans mandatory). Parents normally over-compensate and buy way more meals than their child actually needs. I had plenty of friends in college who would be giving away meals near the end of the semester to get rid of all their meals (great for me but not their parent’s wallet). A small meal plan is great idea and gives your student more flexibility to eat what they want instead of being chained to a not so great dining hall.

As much as your kid protests, their college dorm room doesn’t need a TV. The point of college is to get out and meet new people and learn new things. Getting cable to run into the dorm rooms is also another big cost that colleges love to charge you with. I guarantee that your child will find plenty of friends with TVs in their room as well. Also, laptops can stream most any TV show so you can catch up with your shows that way.

Credit Cards
A credit card is not a good idea for a future college student. It is incredibly easy to accidentally end up in a lot of debt. While your child will need money there a lot of better alternatives. A prepaid card with a set amount is great for not losing their identity or ending up in debtors prison. You can’t spend money you don’t have and it is easy to set a limit on an account so you know how much is being spent.

Brand New Bedding
A dorm room is going to get messy, trust me. There is no need to go out and spend a lot of money on nice new comforters and sheets. The linens they have been using since high school will suffice during their freshman year.

Note: If your college has Twin XL beds, then they will probably need new sheets. Target has them for great prices.

An Ironing Board
This is an unnecessary item that I see a lot of parents buying for their kids. No matter how big of an advocate your child is for ironing as soon as that 8 am class rolls around they will have no energy to iron their clothes for the day. It also takes up valuable space in an already small dorm room.

A Tablet
iPads, Kindles, and any other kind of high tech tablet are all the rage right now. You might think your student needs one but they are an extra, unneeded cost. A laptop will fit the needs of any college student perfectly.  If they already have one… this can possibly be a way to save on text books though, check into the cheaper digital versions.

Extra Storage
We as parents love to overdo things. Sending our kids off with a ton of rubber maid storage units or new bookshelves isn’t the best idea. Most dorms come with desks and shelves already so adding all these extra containers can really get in the way. Wait until after your child is completely moved in before buying extra storage units for the room. A dorm room is small and the space is valuable!



    • AP

      I used Half(dot)com throughout college for my textbooks (a division of eBay). I would buy books at a discount, and then re-sell them again after I used them. Great site!!

      • AP

        Also, use “media mail” when sending out textbooks you sell. Last time I used it it was fairly cheap, and insured up to $100. In most cases I was sent as well as used bubble envelopes instead of boxes for shipping, and it worked great.

    • Lana

      About bedding–if you are told to bring extra long twin bedding then regular twin sheets will be too small. You don’t want to be out searching for bedding while moving your student into the dorm!

    • Laura Ann

      This is kind of related… In regards to renting/buying books, check out the website booksprice.com. It’s basically a search engine that compares the prices of books on all types of websites that sell books. It saves a lot of time in trying to find the best price!

    • SC

      My first year at college – I went for the more expensive newer books from the bookstore – and it cost me a fortune. I finally went to the used books from an online source and then would sell them back – big money saver.
      Also – definitely avoid the credit card. I fell into the trap and basically charged way too much. It built up and when I graduated I had school loans plus all of the credit card debt. After credit counseling and a few years of strict budgeting, I managed to pay off all my credit cards – and cut them up. Stick with a debit card.

    • Jacki Beers

      I have to disagree with not needing a printer. I think my college would charge 4 cents/page to print at the library. Sure it sounds cheap, but for the amount of things you print in college, its definitely not cheap. A $50 printer would be well worth it.

      • Madam Pince

        This is true — I’m working on an accounting degree at a nearby state university, and they charge 9 cents per sheet. Even though most assignments are turned in online, lots of assignments need to be printed.

    • Linda

      TJMaxx also carries the extra long twin sheets at good prices.

    • I used half.com for textbooks in college, and Amazon is great as well (you can use gift cards from Swagbucks to buy). On some campuses a car is not a necessity, but at my university, almost everyone had a car because of how far the college was from the city. Parking there was plentiful and only $15 a year, though (this was 03-07), and most of us brought our cars with us to school.

      I think having a printer is a good idea due to convenience and some colleges limiting or charging for printing and copies, and you can also get ink cheaper by buying refurbished or get a good deal on a printer. I didn’t have a printer, and I remember going to the library before class one morning to print something, and the printers were down. I had to go across campus to print before class. Sometimes it’s better to pay for the convenience and the peace of mind in knowing you have your paper printed before you leave the dorm, etc.

      After my first year, I didn’t buy new bedding, supplies, etc. That was fun when “going off” to college but after freshman year, it was more of a chore.

    • As someone who graduated a little over 3 years ago and is about to finish grad school (woot!), I definitely agree with some of these, but don’t agree with others.

      There is no need to buy a new textbook ever. You can find used ones (in the correct edition) on amazon, half.com, textbooksrus, etc. Sometimes professors are fine with a previous edition as well.
      Generally you can sell the books back at the end of the semester either in a campus bookstore or online. I have sold a lot of my textbooks back to Amazon.

      I think the car thing depends on a lot of things. Is there good public transportation in the area, is there a grocery store within walking distance, are they going to get an off campus job, etc.

      I have had a printer all the way through. I got $25 a semester in “free” copy money in undergrad. Copies after that were 10 cents/sheet. I always used all of my money by about half way through the semester, and then would use my own printer after that. In grad school I get $10 at 7 cents/sheet. Again, I tend to use the printer money before the end of the semester. Students don’t just print papers. They often have handouts and/or notes that need to be printed as well. You also can’t print coupons from most school printers because you can’t download the software onto shared computers, and you generally cannot print from your own laptop to a school printer. I’m just saying ;)

      I didn’t have an ironing board in college. I always just used a towel when I needed to iron something, which was not very often. It worked perfectly fine.

      Digital versions of textbooks are almost always cheaper, BUT they can’t be sold back to a bookstore. If they are going to keep the book, this isn’t a big deal, but if they aren’t, it is usually better to buy a used book and then sell it back when they are done. I also like being able to have a physical copy of the book, but that is a personal preference.

    • Megan_A

      I disagree with the ideas about books. It’s great to buy used, but buying an older edition could cause problems. There are sometimes big changes between editions. You are paying thousands of dollars for the class. Spend a little extra money on the correct book.
      You also don’t necessarily have a week to get your book. I get annoyed when students come into my class expecting not to have to do anything for the first week. The semester is only 15 weeks long, so we can’t waste a week at the beginning. There are always a few students who are surprised that they will have to read and study the first chapter before the second class. They end up paying too much at the campus bookstore (if it’s even still in stock) or ordering online and not having the book in time to study for the first quiz. Failing the first assignment is a really bad way to start the semester.
      Remember, too, that ebooks may not come with required supplemental materials like CD-ROMs. Many professors do not allow electronic devices, so you may not even be able to use an ebook in class. Check with your professor before you go this route.

    • augirl

      Another great source to check prices on textbooks is http://www.cheapesttextbooks.com, they post prices for new, used and rentals (by the quarter or by the semester).