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Hot Tips for Any Parent with a Kid Entering College in the Fall


Susan from Henderson, NV, sent me some great tips that I could share with everyone on how to save some money if you have children in college:

Just returned from our daughter’s college graduation. A hot tip for any parent with a kid entering college in the fall: check out the new dorm during the week the kids leave the dorm. You wouldn’t believe the stuff that was disgarded; televisions, leather jackets, microwaves, furniture etc. My daughter gave everything away to her roommate who was giving it to her little sister. The price of shipping makes it easy to disgard items.

Of course, some of us would be screaming to those students to sell things on eBay! Don’t give it away! But at the same time, I understand how much easier it is to give away things instead of moving them with you when you are a college student. Renting a moving truck can be pretty expensive depending on where you live.

Another suggestion is to shop for textbooks online and to resell the used textbooks on Amazon instead of selling them back to the student store. My daughter would bring me back her textbooks on every break and I sold many of them for way over the amount the student store offered. It really helped to offset the price of future textbooks.

I love this idea! I always sold my books back to the student store and I felt I wasn’t getting as much as I could for the books but I didn’t have any ideas as to other avenues I could try.

Thank you Susan for the tips!


  • Reply Melissa |

    Half.com is the best site for textbooks… I’ve sold all the books I won’t be needing in my career (I’ve been told by numerous people which books I need to keep) for sometimes more than I paid for them, and I have purchased a lot of my textbooks online too. If they don’t get there on time, I purchase them from the school bookstore and return them within the full refund time frame. I bought $200 books for as low as $5. Definitely worth it in every way!

  • Reply Jim |

    Where I went to college the city had a large item collection day and people would throw out furniture like desks, chairs, tables, couches, appliances, particularly refrigerators and microwaves, and there were TVs and computers. When I lived in my fraternity house, free stuff sitting on the side of the road was just the kind of thing a house could use. End of a semester was a great time to find free stuff because if it didn’t fit in the car, the dumpster always had room. I picked up a nice wooden table with the glass still in tact just sitting by a dumpster. One’s trash is another’s treasure.

    Regarding the textbook scam (which it is) I would always buy used books in good condition early, OR buy someone’s book from them before they sold it back for nearly nothing. If I bought my books all new they would cost me on average $500 a semester and I would only get about $50-100 back selling them back. Buying used I only spent about $200 and could sell them to people taking the class next year or go to an off campus book store BEFORE finals (wait the price goes down) and get a good price for my used books. I also discovered that some of my classes I didn’t need a book. My last semester senior year I did not buy a single book because I did not need any more reference in programming and saveed a lot of money doing that.

    When I came of age to young adult and entered the bar scene, no cover nights, quarter drafts, $1.50 pitchers, $1 specials make the night fun and cheap. Some get too carried away in college and spend a ton of money on partying.

    I miss college from time to time but life must move forward and I have my wife, house, and career to remind me of that.

  • Reply Dustin |

    In response to Melissa, I would say half.com is good but not great. I used http://www.bestwebbuys.com/books for my purchases and never paid more than $150 a term for my books total.

    This site ranks the top online bookstores (Amazon, Half, Abe, etc) – new and used including shipping. You can then go to the appropriate site to make the order. A bit more work but it was the difference of $100 a term in savings when I split up the orders.

  • Reply Renee |

    Yep, when I was in college I heard the term “dumpster diving” used for this. Basically, all of the dorms have a huge dumpster outside for students to put their stuff that they don’t want to take home. A lot of times it’s furniture or TVs. The big item at my school was “lofts”, which are basically wood kits you assemble to lift your bed high off the ground so you have more room in the dorm room. They are rediculously expensive new, but so many people toss theirs out here, I’ve considered renting a storage unit and collecting them to sell back to freshmen in the fall used. Some “locals” come to the dorms the day after the students leave, before the dump trucks get there, and “dumpster dive” to see what treasures they can find. My school was known for having a large percentage of rich kids, so they threw out some totally salvageable items that the less-rich locals smartly grab up!

  • Reply Jack B |

    I have to admit that I am really surprised by this. When I was at college (many moons ago!) I don’t think there was any of this going on. Is this a symptom of the new X & Y generations? I can’t imagine us baby-boomers ever leaving things of value like this. I guess in my day things were a lot more expensive that you surely wouldn’t leave a TV at college, that’s if you even had one! But I’m also surprised because these days with the huge popularity of eBay, students of all people, would be able to make at least a few bucks… I’m sure there’s a good business in there somewhere as well.

  • Reply Da big D |

    I think I might go to the local college with my truck and see what I can find and sell on eBay….

  • Reply Jami |

    The college I went to had an unofficial website for selling textbooks and leaving reviews of professors. It was run by two former students and they somehow got permission from the school to put banners up all over the place.

    Maybe some of you could set up websites for your respective schools and see what happens!

  • Reply Bianca Bizarro |

    We just picked up my son from his first year at college and noticed a huge pile of stuff in the lobby of the dorm that was free for the taking. We didn’t add to it and were tempted to go through it, but refrained. We sell his textbooks through half.com, and try to buy as many online as well. This year he ended up having to buy a new book through the college bookstore, and when he went to pick it up, it was used, but they said it looked new. Unfortunately, it didn’t come with a required CD, so he had to purchase that separately, so he ended up paying more. I told him that this next year we’d try to buy books early.

So, what do you think ?