Today’s blog post is about saving money at school! It’s an awesome resource with some solid options for how to keep your spending down while at Stanford. It covers a wide variety of ways to save money, but it is not at all an exhaustive list. Matt Wojtaszek, student advisory board member of Stanford’s Mind Over Money office and leader within the First-Generation and/or Low-Income Partnership (FLIP) was kind enough to take the lead on this post for Approaching Stanford. This is based on his and others’ experiences and resources that they’ve found useful over the years. We hope you implement some of these tips during your undergraduate career to save some $$$.
College, as I’m sure you’ve heard by now, brings with it awesome opportunities and new responsibilities. Budgeting your money while on campus can help you take advantage of all Stanford has to offer, and it’s an important step forward as you make your transition to college. Here are some tips to help you get started!
First off, Stanford provides plenty of great resources to help students with financial matters, so be sure to check them out. Mind over Money is Stanford’s new financial literacy one-stop shop, where you can learn about budgeting, credit, loans, investing, and a whole host of other financial topics. Visit the Financial Aid office for drop-in appointments to ask about your aid package, and the Diversity and First Generation Office is happy to support students with any additional advice or assistance they may need. The golden rule is that if you need something, just ask!
As far as practical money-saving tips, there are a few main categories of spending that most students encounter: dorm furniture and appliances, textbooks, transportation, and entertainment.
For furniture and appliances, such as mini fridges, microwaves, or printers, think about waiting until getting on campus before buying these items. You and your roommate may decide to share – just make sure everyone finds it fair! If you do choose to get your own appliances, there are some great websites where you can buy from people in the area for cheap. Craigslist, SUpost.com (a Craigslist for the Stanford community), the Stanford Free and For Sale Facebook group, and NextDoor.com are all great resources. If you can manage without certain items until next school year, there are always upperclass students willing to donate or sell cheaply their dorm supplies to the younger generation at the end of the spring.
Textbooks are another big area of spending. Unless you need an online access code for homework, used or rental books found online are a great option. Some good places to start are Cheapesttextbooks.com, Ecampus.com, Half.com, Isbn.nu. You can also get decent prices by renting textbooks from the Stanford Bookstore. Many classes will allow older versions of textbooks as well, so make sure to confirm with your TA before shelling out money for the latest edition. And again, upperclass students are usually more than happy to give away (or at least sell for cheap) old textbooks, so don’t be afraid to ask if you know you’ll need that intro course textbook in a couple quarters.
Stanford can become a bit of a bubble, so transportation and entertainment off campus is key. Stanford’s free bus shuttle, the Marguerite, can take you all around campus, to the CalTrain station, and even down to the shopping center in Mountain View. The CalTrain and BART public transit systems will take you all over the Bay Area, and you can get a free Clipper Card for discounted rates. Finally, most dorms, along with Cardinal Nights, Stanford’s social programming team, will offer subsidized movie showings, sports tickets, arts performances, and other great events throughout the year. Take advantage of what’s available!
These resources and tips barely scratch the surface of ways to save at Stanford. Ask around, talk to others and see what tricks they use! As a rising senior, I’m still learning new tips I wish I’d known earlier. And again, if money is a concern for any reason, please reach out; the Diversity and First Generation Office and the Financial Aid office are here to help.