More Beer Money for the Cash-Strapped College Student
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) You don't have to wait until graduation for the "real world" to hit you for the first time. No matter how much you have in the way of grants and scholarships, chances are good that you're going to shell out a lot out of pocket as you crave those creature comforts in your dorm room and find your that reading list expanding in your selected courses. You might spend over $1,100 a year just on books. But how can you spend less so that you can enjoy more? We talked to a number of experts to help reduce your financial headaches as your fall semester gets underway.
Upgrading Your Computer
When you head off to college, you might think that your old laptop isn't going to make the cut. Nothing could be further from the truth, according to John Egan, website manager for Crucial.com, a company specializing in helping people make their old computers new again. "People generally buy computers on a budget and get the least amount of memory they can get away with," he explains. This is fine at first, but in a couple years, users begin seeing the beach ball or hourglass more often.
Adding memory is cheap. "For about $50 you can double the amount of memory your computer has," he said. What's more, you can usually install it yourself. Another great way to upgrade? A solid-state drive. This is pricier than memory at about $1 per gigabyte of storage, but it's much more durable in addition to being faster, making it an attractive option for students who will be throwing their computer in and out of a bookbag almost every day. Egan also points out that cloud-based storage services make having physical storage space less important than ever before.
The Secondary Marketplace
What if I told you that you could get just about everything that you need for college for up to 50% off of retail? Sounds too good to be true, but it's not. Tom McElroy, vice president of eCommerce at Genco Marketplace, the parent company of NoBetterDeal.com, explains the advantages of using a secondary sale site.
"These are just things that didn't sell the first time around," he says, "The secondary marketplace gives them a second life."
How do you navigate the secondary marketplace? Mostly it's about knowing the terms. "'New returns' are returned goods that come in a sealed, unopened box," McElroy explains, adding that "'box damaged' means that a company doesn't want to sell a product because the packaging has been damaged." These are the real steals. The broader part of the market are opened returns, that have been inspected. Either way, this company provides a 30-day money-back guarantee that includes return shipping costs.