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How College Students Can Curb School Expenses

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Tips on saving and spending wisely.

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It's the beginning of the school semester and the expenses are already adding up. Universities charge unreasonable rates for meal plans. But when you look at how many meals you actually eat every week, you'll find that many go unused. Find ways to use those unused meals -- maybe they can be converted into credit at the local supermarket, as is the case at many universities.

You won't even open half the textbooks your professors claim you need. Find out from students who previously took the course whether the textbook is necessary. Trading textbooks with friends is the best way to save some cash. "Every course requires the professor to provide the book at the school library for free," Seventeen magazine contributing editor Farnoosh Torabi said.

School bookstores sell new and used books at unfavorable prices. Check out www.campusbooks.com and www.DealOz.com for the best deals. The websites filter all the major discount sites such as eBay (EBAY) and Amazon (AMZN) to find you the most affordable prices. Sometimes they give you coupon codes, too. On average, I end up paying approximately one-quarter of the price I would have paid at the school bookstore. Barnes & Noble (BKS) College Bookstores is also testing a program that lets students rent hardcover textbooks for the semester at 35% of the full cost.

You may need your books the first few weeks of school, but buy them at the bookstore with the intent of returning them on the last day possible to get a full refund. That way you have them while your online purchases are being shipped. Don't tamper with shrink-wrapped items, for the bookstore will not accept ones that are opened.

Textbook rental is another cheaper alternative. Leading rental service Chegg.com has more than 4.2 million titles in their online catalog. Chegg is the Netflix of textbook rentals. The company offers a fully refunded, 30-day, any reason guarantee for students to return their textbooks.

Not only does Chegg save students more than 65% off books, but also it also helps the environment by planting a tree for every book rented or sold. The service has saved students (and their parents) at more than 6,400 colleges and universities more than $126 million in textbook costs.

The Chegg Champion program is designed to offer students financial incentives for every student they refer to the service. For example, today's Chegg Champions currently earn five dollars for every referred order. Chegg supplies Chegg Champion with the marketing knowledge and interactive toolset they need to promote the company online and on campus.

Like any entrepreneurial job, Chegg Champions get out of the program what they put into it. Students receive solid working experience and can earn enough money to pay for other expenses.

Save, Save, Save!

Remember, personal savings is the key to financial prosperity. Had we been saving all these years, we wouldn't be in our current economic state. People made bad decisions with their money by spending beyond their means. Banks made egregious choices with other people's wealth by encouraging them to live past their standards.

There's an accounting identity, where savings equals investment. The money available at your disposable serves as an asset to future investment. Spendthrifts may not be able to afford that new television set or PS3. By constantly spending, you won't be able to create much wealth because you won't have the necessary capital to do so. In other words, you'll find yourself living from paycheck to paycheck.
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