Tag Archive: money saving

The search for value: Guest blog by Cheapism

The Textbook Guru wants to bring the best advice, insight and tips from other insiders and money-savers. This week, we’re happy to share a guest blog post by Sarah McClutchy at Cheapism.com. Cheapism is a consumer review site that shows you not just the best products, but the best value products.

Cash-strapped college students should always be on the lookout for deals. Why? Because textbooks aren’t the only category with money-saving possibilities. Take the time to do some online research before plunking down big bucks on furniture, electronics, or home and kitchen items and you’ll discover how to get the most bang for your dollar. After all, you want to find products that are not just inexpensive but products that will last for several years. Make it a rule to only buy products that get a thumbs-up from reviewers.

Start your research at product review sites. You can find expert reviews on sites like Consumer Reports orCnet, and user reviews on Epinions and Amazon. Then there are sites like Cheapism that pull and analyze opinions from around the web to make informed recommendations on everything from cheap space heaters todiscount eyeglasses. Cheap price tags don’t always mean cheaply made – you just need to know where to look and how to distinguish between the deals and the rip-offs. Because the bigger the bill the bigger the potential savings, we decided to focus this blog post on a couple of big ticket items.

One college essential on which you can save hundreds is a laptop. Before you spend $1,000+ on a popular MacBook, check out models costing less than $600. In its cheap laptops review, Cheapism recommends theGateway NV55C03u ($500) and Dell Inspiron 14R ($520). Each of these more affordable options is equipped with Intel’s Pentium P6100 CPU dual-core processor, runs at 2GHz, and includes the basics:  Microsoft Office, CD/DVD player, and wireless support. If you want to splurge, the Toshiba Satellite L655-S5096 boasts a 15.6-inch screen, costs about $680, and is another good option. According to the Cheapism review, many consumers are more than satisfied with these products, which are quality cheap alternatives to the trendier, but higher-priced, Mac models.

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Cash-Strapped College Part 1: Before You Leave

Cash

Next to purchasing a home, paying for college is one of the largest investments in a lifetime. Obviously, saving money is on the top of the priority list. Having wealthy parents is the first money-saving strategy. If that’s out of the question, there are still a few things you can do before, during and after your college years to save money. This is the first of a three-part weekly series, and going in logical order, will outline some strategies for both parents and students to cut costs and reduce loans before you even get on campus.

BEFORE COLLEGE

The earlier you start preparing for college the better. For parents, starting a college fund earlier rather than later is always advisable, even if you feel you can’t contribute very much to it each month. One option is a 529 savings plan, which is especially beneficial if your student is aiming for a state school. These plans  “are operated by the state government, [and] allow you to lock in future tuition costs at participating schools at today’s prices, providing a guarantee against tuition inflation” says Rachel Grumman, in her Mom’s Guide to College Savings.

 

Things like having an after school job to put money away can help too, but one of the most valuable things a student can do is learn how to budget. Learning about money goes hand in hand with earning money, and high school students who are responsible for their own expenses are often more financially responsible when they reach college.

 

Lisa Belkin, at New York Times blog Motherlode, says that “being the parent of an 18-year-old means second guessing a lot of choices made over 18 years, and one that I might have done differently is the decision not to have him get a job until the end of high school.” Her regret isn’t unique, as any parent slammed with a credit card bill or a pleading phone call can attest. Over the course of a four-year undergraduate study, the ability to budget their income and avoid expenses can save a student more than many scholarships award.

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