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College Cheapskate

If it's cheap, I like it.

I heard through a friend that (at least today) Urban Outfitters is having a 50% off sale for those carrying a student ID. I don’t know if this involves all Urban Outfitters, but I’m going to the Austin one today to find out, and so should you!

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Stack of textbooks

Thanks to greenasian on flickr for the image.

Effort: 1
Savings: 3

It’s that dreaded time of the year again: Buying this semester’s textbooks. In past semesters, I’ve been stupid. I’ve taken the easy way out. I’ve let my university bookstore seduce me with its simple one-stop shopping. But it’s a new year, and it’s time to be less lazy and to do some comparison shopping. Here are some tips on how to save while buying this semester’s textbooks.

Helpineedbooks

I actually found this website, helpineedbooks.com, after I bought my books for this semester, but I think it’s your best bet. Basically, you type in the book title, author, ISBN, or keywords, and the site will compare book prices (even taking into account shipping and handling!) from tons of sites, including Amazon. They even give you a quick summary of the lowest prices and include book rentals and eBooks in the mix, ensuring that you are aware of the absolute lowest prices out there. I just searched one of the books I ended up buying on Amazon, and I could have gotten it used for $9 instead of $29 (but that’s still lower than my university bookstore’s price of $48! HA!). Why didn’t I find this sooner?! Anyway, at least you might be able to benefit from my misfortune.

The Book-Renting Myth

If you’re like me, you’ve probably heard about this new book-renting craze. “Save up to 55% on textbooks!”, I’ve seen posters rave. However, I didn’t even waste my time on this. First of all, a friend of mine tried it and only saved $5. Second of all, because he’s renting, he has no chance of making any of that money back in re-selling his books at the end of the semester, and he can’t write in the books (and if you’re like me, an intense hi-lighter and underliner, this is extremely discouraging). Take it from me: book renting = bad idea. But if you think it could work for you, check it out for yourself on CollegeBookRenter, BookRenter, or Chegg.

Facebook Groups for Buying and Re-selling

This is a trend I just noticed this semester. One of my Facebook friends started a group about a month ago entitled “Buy Books From Real People.” Student book sellers benefit because they can probably sell their books to other students for slightly higher prices than the university bookstore will give them. And buyers will also benefit, as the used book prices their classmates offer will be much lower than the bookstores’, who will sell used books for 3/4 the price of new ones while paying the student who sold the book back less than 1/4 the price of the new book. See? Everybody wins. Facebook groups work especially well for that “reading packet” that Professor Mustard assembled that you can only get from your own University of Condiments’ bookstore for $50. Consider starting your own Facebook group for you and your friends to buy and sell books.

12 Days of WhataburgerEffort: 1
Savings: 2

Oops

So, the 12 Days of Whataburger have been going on … this entire month. But it’s not too late for you to enjoy them if you haven’t already! Day 11 (free cinnamon buns I think?) is tomorrow and Day 12 is Thursday (12/23). Just go to the 12 Days of Whataburger website and sign up to be emailed coupons that will get you free stuff at Whataburger those days. I have yet to participate, but some friends went to three different Whataburgers in one day last week!

Ps, Isn’t the website cool?

Jim Jarmusch's Stranger Than Paradise

Effort: 1
Savings : 2
Your coolness level as perceived by your date: 4

Austin Cinematheque is hosting yet another free screening (its last : ( boo hoo.) this Monday at 8 PM. This time the film is Jarmusch’s Stranger Than Paradise (1984).

The Texas Union Theatre is located at 2247 Guadalupe St.

 

(Mental) Effort: 5
Savings: 5

Buy In Bulk

Way too many rubber chickens.

One item you would probably not benefit from buying in bulk. Thanks to zoomar on Flickr for the image.

This may seem obvious, but not when you’re at the grocery store asking yourself why you should pay a whopping $11 for 16 rolls of toilet paper instead of a manageable $4 for 4 rolls—believe me, I’ve seen many a friend crumble in defeat and actually end up spending more in the long run. This one’s difficult because it requires you to delay gratification, but remember that you’re not only saving on the item you’re buying, but you’re also saving on gas because more items means fewer trips to the store. Also remember that buying in bulk doesn’t mean buying 47 bottles of contact solution that you will never use from Costco. You can save from buying in bulk even at your local grocery store.

Go Straight for the Sales

When you’re shopping for clothes, don’t even look at a full-priced item until you’ve scoured the sale racks. Some stores will try to outsmart you by placing the on sale section at the very back of the store, forcing you to walk through their sea of flashy, alluring, overpriced clothing. Put on some mental blinders and stay strong during your walk of savings.

Effort: 1
Savings: 3

Here are some tips on how to save when it comes to your entertainment needs.

Boost the contents of your bookshelf for fewer Benjamins

Okay, so I doubt that you’ve ever spent hundreds of dollars at a time on books, but give me a break, “Benjamins” provided better alliteration than “Jacksons.”

One word: libraries. Another word: Amazon (new and used books for as low as $0.99? Yes please.). A few more words: Free shipping on orders over $25.

Free Films: Thank God for Gofobo

Gofobo, a wonderful way to see movies for free in advance

If you take nothing away from this post, at least bookmark Gofobo.com. You will not regret it. (Thanks to databasepublish.com for the screenshot).

At theaters, always remember to ask for a student or military discount, even if you aren’t sure that the theater provides one. And sometimes you don’t have to pay for movie tickets at all: sites like Gofobo can alert you to free, even advanced, film screenings in your area. This summer, I saw Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World twice for free before it even came out in theaters. (However, that is an excellent movie that bombed at the box office for a few—but no good—reasons, so you should go buy that movie. Like now. Watch it with all of your friends. Three times in a row). The only catch is that some of these screenings are first-come-first-serve for ticketholders, which means you should probably show up an hour or two early if you want (good) seats. But most of these sites will also allow you to bring a guest, so you’ll at least have company while you wait for your free entertainment.

Also, never underestimate free rentals at your local public library!

Netflix

So, Netflix means murder for local video stores, but it is a savior when it comes to your wallet. $8.99 per month gets you one disc at a time along with unlimited instant play. The instant play alone is worth it. I can’t stress this enough.

Music

Coming in another post because this one was getting long and I know you’ve probably stopped reading by now.

Effort: 3
Savings: 4

check engine light

In light of Halloween being on Sunday, I decided to include a picture of something I find scarier than the most violent horror movies in existence: the check engine light. These tips will hopefully help you avoid seeing this anytime soon.

Here are some tips about how to save on things having to do with your car. The underlying moral throughout this post is, when it comes to your ride, pay a little now, save a ton later.

Fill up your tank in the morning

Fill up in the morning (when the gas has cooled overnight), because cold gas is more dense than warm gas. This means you’ll get more for your money.

Gas Buddy

Gas Buddy is an iPhone app that finds the cheapest gas in your area, because gas prices may vary as much as 20% within only a few blocks. Gas Buddy does cost $2.99, but the description reads, “Gas Buddy will pay for itself in one tank of gas and will pay for your iPhone after one year of use. We’re not kidding. We didn’t believe it at first either.” Hmm. I guess I’ll let you know about that one.

Go the Speed Limit

For every mile you drive above about 50 mph, you’re decreasing your gas mileage.

Get Oil Changes When You’re Supposed to

Even though you may cringe every 3 months when you have to shell out $30 for an oil change, getting your oil changed when you’re supposed to ensures that your car has fewer (costly) problems in the long run. Or you could change your oil yourself. I would, but I do not trust myself when it comes to anything automotive.

Buy the Parts and Install them Yourself

I have a friend who used to work at Jiffy Lube, and he was always telling me never to get the parts that your car needs (like new AC filters and little stuff like that) where you get your oil changed. Take their advice on what you need, but go to a store like O’Reilly Auto Parts and buy the parts yourself, because oil change places like Jiffy Lube will charge you an extra $30 or more just for installation. Get a friend who’s good with cars to do the installation for you if you don’t trust yourself.

Tire Insurance

Places like Discount Tire Co. offer reasonably priced tire insurance that will basically ensure that you get free tires for 10 years.

I found this interesting article about seven things you should always buy generic. Just thought I would share!

Effort: 2
Savings: 3

Had a rough day?

Feel the need to soothe your soul with some shopping?

My first option is for those who have the willpower to shop without actually spending any money, and it comes in the form of Craigslist. Here’s what you do:

Free Craigslist Organ

Check out this sweet, free organ.

Drop the wallet. Instead of going out and blowing half of your paycheck on some random item that you will end up regretting purchasing the next day, learn to love craigslist’s free section. People are always giving away TVs, and a few friends of mine once even found this awesome, free, fully-functional organ.

Remember: There’s no such thing as buyer’s remorse when you haven’t bought a thing.

My second option is going to cost you.

The other day I was driving down Burnet Road when I passed Designer Clearance House. I literally almost got into an accident as I did a double-take. They have designer clothes and shoes for sometimes less than half the price of the originals! Check them out.

Effort: 2
Savings: 2
Average number of dirty looks per outing: 1

Oh, dear blog. I’ve been neglecting you recently, and we both know it. School, work, and schoolwork have been my mistresses lately, and thus I haven’t had time to discover new, innovative saving habits. But I promise I’ll have some tips soon! Honest to blog.

In the meantime, and because I haven’t been saving substantially recently, I’ve decided to go back into the past and reveal ways in which I could (and should) have saved in my younger years.

Starbucks cup

Thanks to pierofix on Flickr for the image (http://www.flickr.com/photos/pierofix/)

I can’t tell you how long I’ve been ranting about Starbucks stealing innocent people’s money. The problem for me was, I grew up in San Antonio, where the options about what to do after school were about as diverse as going to Wal-mart or the monetary black hole that is Starbucks. So, naturally, my friends and I usually ended up at Starbucks (so often that we created a vulgar nickname for it–Star… use your imagination).

But There Is a Way to Save

I recently saw this article on Yahoo Finance that made me almost cry but then subsequently jump up and down. First, the crying: The article states that Starbucks announced that they’re increasing their prices soon… I don’t even need to comment on how ridiculous that is. But this is the thing that made me happy: The author suggests, instead of buying an expensive latte, order an espresso in a big cup over ice and put milk they provide for free in it yourself. And get  this–they called it a “Poor Man’s Latte.” Makes me thirst for some Poor Man’s Lemonade.

The article also provides a lot of other tips on saving at Starbucks (e.g., never buy their fruit because it’s overpriced and doesn’t taste as good). Still, none of these tips make up for the fact that this is the most ridiculously priced coffee shop ever. Hopefully, at the very least, the reason they’re raising their prices is because they’re going to pay their growers better.