College students' education expenses, including supplies and school-related electronics, rose 41% from 2011 to 2013, according to Mint.com, which compared the first five months of each year. Here are some suggestions for ways to cool that college spending.
From Hitha Prabhakar, personal finance advocate for Mint.com:
• Don't be afraid of used furniture or textbooks. Find graduating seniors selling their furniture, or check out secondhand stores instead of spending money on new. Buy used or digital textbooks instead of new books.
• Spread out school-supply shopping. College students and parents tend to overspend on school supplies - don't try to buy everything at once, and wait for good sales.
• Share the housing expenses. Having a roommate and splitting the rent is a no-brainer way to save on housing.
• Cut out the car. Mint.com data show college-age students can save almost $200 a month from gasoline expenses by leaving their car at home.
• Think ahead with high school classes. Credit for your high school's Advanced Placement classes or credits for community college taken while in high school can transfer as college credits. Having to take fewer classes saves on tuition.
From Brad Wilson, founder of BradsDeals.com and author of Do More, Spend Less:
• Avoid the school store. Prices often are high because they're not trying to compete on price, and they also may have limited selection of items if the college has a contract with a certain manufacturer.
• Use the right type of plastic. For big purchases, such as laptops or TVs, consider that most American Express cards and a fair amount of "higher-end cards," such as Visa Signature, offer extended-warranty protection for using the card. That can double the store warranty. It can be worth getting one of these cards if you don't have one - you also may get a bonus for signing up that could help pay for more college shopping.
• Use online shopping to your advantage. A "significant majority" of the best deals are online, especially with the online coupon codes that outnumber printable coupons these days. Even for retail stores, check if you can order online and pick up at the store - you get the item immediately and still may be able to use online-only discounts.
Some of Wilson's suggestions for the best online off-to-college deals right now:
80% off textbooks: Renting textbooks through BookRenter.com can save you up to 80% over the cost of buying. http://www.bradsdeals.com/online-coupons/up-to-80-off-textbooks-bookrenter-c118345.html
40% off messenger bags: http://www.bradsdeals.com/deals/40-off-ducti-messenger-bags-p135066.html
24-pack Sharpie highlighters: http://www.bradsdeals.com/deals/24pk-of-chisel-tip-sharpies-6-shipped-p135056.html
Martha Stewart fabric storage drawers: http://www.bradsdeals.com/deals/martha-stewart-fabric-drawers-6-shipped-p135087.html
Ralph Lauren sheet set: http://www.bradsdeals.com/deals/ralph-lauren-300tc-sheet-set-from-30-p135118.html