Slashing college costs

Seven On Your Side
September 3, 2009 11:46:43 AM PDT
Easy ways to save hundreds on computers, cellphones and textbooks.It's incredible. This year parents will spend nearly $1,000 per kid on back-to-college expenses. That includes items like computers, cell phones, and dorm furnishings. Toss in textbooks, and the price tag soars to nearly $2,000. But we have some new tips that will easily slash hundreds off your bill.

Our first stop? A college bookstore. It's a tried and true technique, but buying used books will save at least 25% off your bill. But, for even bigger savings, shop online.

For example we found used a macro economics book selling for $126 in a college book store. But we found the exact same used one at www.Booksprice.com for just $46, saving nearly $80.

"Something else that students might want to consider is actually renting their textbooks." suggested SmartMoney.com's Senior Consumer Reporter, Kelli Grant. "There are sites like Chegg.com and Bookrenter.com and you can easily save 50% on the cost of buying a book."

For discount new and used textbooks

To rent textbooks

Next, saving money on cellphones. The best place to start? A website called billshrink.com. Kelli says it's simple, you input how many minutes your kid normally uses and how much he texts, "And they'll assess your talk patterns and let you know what other plans might be out there that are gonna better help you out, that are going to save you money."

To cut your cellphone bill

And every kid needs a computer. Both Dell and Apple offer discounts specifically to students on new ones but our SmartMoney.com expert says you can get an even better deal by buying refurbished. "If it's a refurbished computer they certify that you know it's been checked out. It comes with a warranty and really most of the time the only thing noticeable difference is the price."

This Dell laptop sells for nearly $679 new. But if you buy the same one, refurbished from Dell, it's $469, a savings of $210.

And how about dorm décor? If you buy everything for a college dorm room; pillows, sheets, towels, and a comforter. Priced separately we found it totaled $154. But we found all the same items stuffed into something called "dorm in a bag" for just $79. That's a $75 dollar savings.

Also, if you pay for a meal plan, our SmartMoney.com expert suggests asking your son or daughter how much they use it. You may be paying for too big a meal plan and a lot of food that never gets eaten. Also, for the deepest discount on textbooks, some students use social networking websites like Facebook, to swap books for a semester. And the best part, it's free.

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Story by: Tappy Phillips


Produced by: Steve Livingstone

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