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Going Back to School? Here Are Some Tips That Helped Me

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It's been 10 years since I graduated college, excuse me if I'm not fully in character. School was a different time in my life. I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about money. My mother raised me to think frugally and I think that stuck in my subconscious.

  • Car - I was the one with the car. Many people may say that you don't need a car in college. It depends on the college, but at many it's very important. I defer to the PCU quote, "Will you have a car? ... Someone on your hall will, find them and make friends with them on the first day ..."  If you are going to be the one with the car, here are some tips to save money on cars.
  • Clothing - Image isn't everything... Or is it? For the first two years of college I wore sweat pants and sweat shirts almost exclusively. A great female friend of mine showed me that I might want to have something other than tube socks in my sock drawer. I made a decent investment in my wardrobe - going through a bunch of stores at the mall. It was the right idea, but not the right implementation. I would learn a few years later that I could have put together a similar wardrobe from TJ Maxx for about a third of the cost. Women: I'm going to attempt to speak for most men when I say that we don't really care about fashion too much. With the way my hormones were in college, I could be impressed by breathing and having a pulse ;-). Lesson: Considering doing some research on how to save money on clothing. Random note: 7 years later the aforementioned friend would become instrumental in introducing me to my wife.
  • Easy Classes - I wouldn't be afraid from taking an easy class or two the first semester. College is going to be a whole lifestyle adjustment and while you are there to learn - you don't want to bite off more than you can chew. Also be careful about classes that appear easy, but take a lot of time. I thought the first level Spanish class would be easy since I had 7 years of it in college, but it required a lot of work. Just because you know the subject doesn't mean it's going to be easy.
  • Technology - When I was in college laptops were very rare and quite expensive. However, you can now pick up an Asus EEE for less than $300 on Craigslist or an Acer Aspire One. These computers would be perfect for taking notes or hoping online in between classes.

    If you're going to be living off campus with some friends or housemates, don't bother with a landline. Research the best cell phone plans in your area and pick the one that suits you "“ between instant messaging and texting, chances are you wouldn't use a traditional phone too much anyway, so save yourself the money.

The Money Writers have gotten together to provide you some more Back to School tips

Last updated on August 1, 2011.

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6 Responses to “Going Back to School? Here Are Some Tips That Helped Me”

  1. Oooo, I have a post on the topic of easy classes coming up soon, and I completely disagree with the whole notion of having an easy class to coast through. Some of the classes out there are ridiculous (Bowling???), but you’re right Lazy “” having one or two classes you’re assured you’ll do well on is a great way to start your college career off. I wouldn’t call them “easy” classes in the vein of “Ballroom Dancing” or “Ice Skating,” but classes you won’t have a problem getting an A in. I took Calculus because I had just done the AP program in school so I breezed through it and worried about adjusting to the social part of college that first semester.

  2. Matt says:

    I agree with Lazy a couple easier classes aren’t necessarily a bad thing in your first semester of school or even your first year. The reality is that going to college is a huge adjustment for most people and they end up struggling with it in some way.

  3. Another thing is to not lose sight of your new debt. Many people who go back to school will have to take on some ridiculous sum of student debt to get it done. Many of them then think: “What’s the difference between being $30,000 in debt or $40,000 in debt?”

    Easy to answer that one: Ten grand. Plus interest. It may not matter to you now, but when you’re debt is a third more because you didn’t watch your expenses while in school (when it is easier to hold line of spending since no one expects a student to wear more than sweat pants and tube socks), you’ll care later. In a big way.

  4. See My Money says:

    Never schedule a class before 9 a.m. I made this mistake once and never again. I thought for sure the Lazy Man would have this one :)

  5. When I was young all classes were tough as nails and people who used to be top of their HS class rapidly got bumped down to average. A’s were basically considered elite and given to the top 5% in a course. How far we have come … Of course I went to the university in another country and there really wasn’t much choice in courses one could take. When given more choice in terms of structuring classes, I would opt for finishing ASAP and load up on relevant credit. There is a big monetary difference between someone finishing in 4 years and someone finishing in 3.5 years. That’s one semester of tuition + one semester of salary.

  6. Jeff says:

    On most college campuses parking is at a premium. Unless you’re commuting from a distance a car is actually a liability. A bicycle is a better investment in most cases.

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