5 Ways College Students Can Save Money on Big-Ticket Purchases

Everyone knows that getting a college education is expensive, but that doesn’t even include all the big-ticket purchases university students often make when they move away from home. Saving money as a student is a necessity.

Let’s look at five common big-ticket purchases you might make as a college student and how you can save.


There are bound to be some late nights writing essays or reports in college, so you might want your own computer just in case campus computer labs are closed when you need them.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can save on a desktop or laptop. These are a few examples:

  • Consider a budget model like a Chromebook.
  • Look for open-box or refurbished deals from manufacturer websites or retailers like Best Buy.
  • If you can, buy near the end of the year during holiday sales. You can score great deals on this year’s models once next year’s are released.


Buying software can also be a significant expense. Here are some ways to save:

  • Use free software when possible. For example, consider Google Docs or OpenOffice instead of expensive word processing programs.
  • Check with your professors or campus IT department. Schools sometimes have licenses available for student installations when additional software is required for coursework.
  • Take advantage of student discounts offered by software companies such as Adobe Creative Cloud for Students.


If you’re moving into your first dorm room, you might not need to buy much furniture. But if you’re moving to off-campus housing, the costs can add up. Thankfully discount furniture isn’t hard to come by. Here are some options:

  • Look for inexpensive pieces at big-box stores like Walmart or Target.
  • Bring what you can from home.
  • Visit thrift stores to find good quality used furniture.
  • Split costs with roommates whenever possible.


Not all students need a vehicle while they’re in college. If you’ll have access to decent public transportation or carpooling, you might be able to get around without a car. But most students will need to drive, so here are a few ways to save at dealerships with award-winning service:

  • Buy a used vehicle rather than a new one. Just be careful. The less a used car costs, the older and higher-mileage it probably is, which usually means higher maintenance costs.
  • If you’re lucky enough to already have a vehicle, you might be able to save on insurance by staying on your parents’ plan.
  • If you’re attending college as a veteran, look into military appreciation programs to score savings as a “thank you” for your service.


Textbooks don’t sound like a “big-ticket item,” but the costs can add up to hundreds of dollars each semester. Here are some tips for cutting costs:

  • Purchase used textbooks online or through your campus bookstore.
  • See if you can reserve a copy of one or more textbooks through the campus library for the semester.
  • Look into e-textbook rentals through online retailers like Amazon.
  • At the end of a semester, sell textbooks and set that money aside for the books you’ll need next semester.

College is expensive. But that doesn’t mean everything has to cost a fortune. Leave more room for fun in your finances by putting these big-ticket savings to work for you.

Written by James Bradrick

James Bradrick left the sun and surf of southern Mexico to blog and write about civil and human rights issues from San Diego CA.

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