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Tradd
8-2-15, 3:48pm
I know some of you have had children go off to college in recent years, so I wanted to pick your brains for ideas.

I've kind of mentored a young woman who is off to college for her freshman year later this month. She is from a poor family and is the first one ever to attend college. She is of a frugal, somewhat minimalist mindset who hates clutter. I want to help her both with a good list of what to take to school, as well as frugal tips for when she's there, and other ideas you might contribute to help her be successful at school.

Thankfully, she is on a full scholarship for tuition/room & board, but she still has to pay for books and other incidentals. She did very well in high school. She's a math whiz and is majoring in education with concentration in math. As such, she will be in high demand. She's up against some disapproval from extended family who don't believe college is a necessity, as they never needed it, plus beliefs that if a woman is going to teach, it should be English or teaching younger children.

Please share your ideas. I'll come back later with what I've shared with her.

catherine
8-2-15, 3:59pm
It feels like yesterday when my DD went off to college.

Just to jog my memory, I googled, and found this great article (http://www.thesimpledollar.com/what-to-bring-to-college-the-smart-frugal-college-checklist/)about frugal packing for college. I think the slant on "frugal" is essential because you get so sucked in by what "everyone" says you need--like dorm fridges.

One of the great pieces of advice in the article is to go with the necessities and wait to see if you really do need the rest. I had a REALLY frugal roommate freshman year, which helped me rein in any impulse buys. I wanted us to go and buy matching, cute bedspreads, but she would have none of it. Her mother had two old chenille bedspreads and we bought RIT dye and spruced them up.

When it comes to room and board, I remember the big decision was whether to buy the super-duper meal plan or the more limited one, or none at all. The food at my DDs college was really good (IMHO anyway--we didn't have farm to table cafeterias at my college, that's for sure) and I think the worried mom in me was thinking I should give her every opportunity to eat well (forgetting, of course, that I gained 15 lbs my first semester away--so I surely didn't starve).

By the time we got to her junior year, we spent a lot less on food for her.

There are others here with more recent experience in this area, and I'm sure they'll have good ideas as well.

It's so great that you are mentoring her, Tradd! She's lucky to have you.

Tradd
8-2-15, 4:32pm
A laptop was provided as a high school graduation gift from a family friend. The gifter waited until the young woman had found out specifically what she needed from her college. I'll be providing a printer and ink shipped via Amazon Prime once she arrives at school.

Clothes - the basic jeans and t-shirt/sweater/sweatshirt wardrobe, with two sets of workout clothes (including shoes), swimsuit for pool use, a couple of pair of shoes/boots. Fleece jacket. Umbrella. She's attending a state school four hours from home. Once she's away at school, she won't be home until Thanksgiving.

Bedding/linens: one set of XL sheets (yes, the dorm has those XL mattresses) and a fleece blanket, pillow. One set of towels (bath sheet, hand towel, two wash cloths).

My specific suggestion for odd items: a small fan (since dorms often don't have a/c and the first month or two can be warm), a couple of extension cords/power strips, flashlight and batteries, small battery operated radio, electric kettle. Also: a good insulated mug (she's a tea fanatic), a couple of plastic cups/plates/bowls with a set of cheap silverware.

She will be in a dorm room with one other girl. There are communal bathrooms on the floor. Each room has a microwave/fridge combo already there. There's a Walmart not to far from the school accessible by public transit. I suggested she hit Walmart for basic school supplies (one subject notebooks for each class, pens, etc.) and some food items to keep in her room (instant oatmeal, tea, granola bars, etc.).

I told her to use a pair of cheap flip flop sandals she already has for shower shoes (communal bathroom).

Chicken lady
8-2-15, 4:35pm
First of all, she should eat all her meals on the free board plan! If friends want to eat out or get pizza or whatever she can either ell them "I'll come along, but I'm just hanging out, not buying food." or "if you want to cover me I'll swipe you in for lunch tomorrow (most colleges have a certain number of swipes on thei meal plan) but I'm not taking out student loans for pizza!". Tell her to be proud of those choices - my daughter's friends who graduated with huge loans now tell her how smart she was.

She doesn't need a fridge or a microwave or a tv or a stereo. Maybe a desk lamp, maybe not. Whatever computer is essential for her program - that will be the biggest bite. Ask around for used textbooks from students who just took the course. My dd even loaned a book to her friend.

Don't join a sorority, make friends with the best students in the class. If she's doing great, they'll want to study with her. If not, she should ask for their help.

Don't drink.

Chicken lady
8-2-15, 4:39pm
Cross posted, sorry. Don't buy pens, just pick up some free ones - go talk to several banks about what student checking/savings/cc programs they have. She'll want to optimize that, and take all their pens.

iris lilies
8-2-15, 7:00pm
this isn't about "stuff" but after she's settled in fora year or so start talking her her about careers other than teaching. while the schools are desperate for math teachers and she would be employable,it's possible she will find she is interested in something else such as computer science and programming.

mschrisgo2
8-3-15, 3:46am
Two of those cute little plastic "tote" things with several divided sections from the dollar store, one for toiletries to go to the bathroom, one for makeup, etc. to use in her room. Plastic tote bag to take clothes/towels to/from the shower. Hair dryer? Laundry bag?

Also, I recommend renting textbooks, usually cost even less than buying used, but its important to get orders in early/quickly.

Float On
8-3-15, 8:59am
a lot of the colleges give printing credit so I'm not even sending printers with the boys. If they decide later it's easier to have one in their room then they'll get one.

I'm basically sending them with bedding (X-long twin sheets and mattress pads ordered off Amazon for a lot less than the recommended company that mailed us twice a week), they both rec'd 2 quilts as grad gifts, a few pillows, laundry basket and soap, a semesters worth of toiletries. A rug for in front of their bed. Alex bought a room fridge and a blender he can keep in the dorm kitchen (he needs his daily power smoothie). A basket of snacks to get them started, some cutlery and bowls/plates for room, and a wall clock. Hangers and extension cords, power strips. College kids tend to acquire room decor as they go. Even without a car they have access to shopping when needed (friends with cars or school shuttles).

SteveinMN
8-3-15, 5:34pm
It's been a long time since I was in college, but a few things I remember that would have saved some money are:

- Consider waiting to buy books until she's attended one or two sessions of each class. I wish I had the money I spent on books (especially workbooks) which were listed as "required" and which were never mentioned again by the instructor/professor. >:(
- Would a bicycle be handy for getting around campus? How about a comfortable backpack for books, snacks for those weird times between classes when there's not enough time for lunch, etc.?

By the same token, I'd be wary of the "don't-waste-a-paid-meal" approach. If that college's food service is anything like mine was, nothing will go to waste if the young lady does not show up for a meal. But part of college life is the exposure to new people and ideas. That does not happen only in class or in study group. Friendships and associations form over meals and during chats in the dorm hallway and at extracurricular activities. If your friend is invited out for pizza, she should go and eat pizza. Maybe after she's a regular in the group she can decide to eat at food service and just get some pop or tea or something. But college should not be just vocational training. And she doesn't want to look like the poor country mouse, either. For what college costs these days, a little money spent eating meals out (or going on ice-cream or donut runs) is nothing compared to the human experience it can bring.

TxZen
8-3-15, 7:17pm
1. End of year is a great time to dumpster dive. College kids throw out EVERYTHING and some of it is brand new.
2. Have a few comfort items. For me, it was a nice fleece, comfy shoes (lots of walking), sturdy messenger bag and bringing my camera. While studying is priority, don't forget to enjoy college and still pursue her passions.
3. Ask for gift cards instead of cash, at her favorite places to shop for food, supplies and clothing. Also, easier to carry and less likely to be stolen than cash.
4. Tickets to local attractions are good gifts too, so she can get out and explore.
5. Small lock box. If she brings check books or has extra cash, etc..she can store in there and make sure it's safe. They have some pretty small, inconspicuous one's.

Tussiemussies
8-4-15, 2:55am
Tradd, you are so kind to have been helping this young woman...my sister and Aunt are very gifted in Math. My Sister was in finance but now works in a private school as as teacher and she said that she went into finance for the money but now even though she makes much less she just loves her job. Being happy in your field is really important....even if it means less income....

Miss Cellane
8-4-15, 9:23am
It's been a long time since I was in college, but a few things I remember that would have saved some money are:

- Consider waiting to buy books until she's attended one or two sessions of each class. I wish I had the money I spent on books (especially workbooks) which were listed as "required" and which were never mentioned again by the instructor/professor. >:(
- Would a bicycle be handy for getting around campus? How about a comfortable backpack for books, snacks for those weird times between classes when there's not enough time for lunch, etc.?

By the same token, I'd be wary of the "don't-waste-a-paid-meal" approach. If that college's food service is anything like mine was, nothing will go to waste if the young lady does not show up for a meal. But part of college life is the exposure to new people and ideas. That does not happen only in class or in study group. Friendships and associations form over meals and during chats in the dorm hallway and at extracurricular activities. If your friend is invited out for pizza, she should go and eat pizza. Maybe after she's a regular in the group she can decide to eat at food service and just get some pop or tea or something. But college should not be just vocational training. And she doesn't want to look like the poor country mouse, either. For what college costs these days, a little money spent eating meals out (or going on ice-cream or donut runs) is nothing compared to the human experience it can bring.

I agree about the pizza. Maybe she could decide to go out with the gang for pizza or ice cream or whatever once a week, or twice a month, or something like that. When you don't go out with them at all, people start to wonder about you--this happened to me as a freshman in college. It took a long time for people to get to know me, because I wasn't spending that bonding time with them--they saw me in class and for the occasional meal in the dining hall when our schedules meshed, but not on the weekend food runs or partying. Not going out with the others for fun things was very isolating.

Float On
8-4-15, 9:24am
I thought of something else I'm going to send. A small toiletries bag filled with first aid and cold medicine/allergy type stuff. Both my boys colleges offer free laundry rooms or service so I don't have to send rolls of quarters but that was something I loved when I was in college - getting a roll of quarters in a package.

Lainey
8-4-15, 9:17pm
I'm wondering if there's any lock available for her laptop? You hate to think the worst but these things are easily stolen.

pinkytoe
8-4-15, 9:34pm
Almost all of the required course chapters and readings at the university I work at are now online. Many students still insist on printing them out but at least no books to buy anymore. That was a large expense when DD went off to college.

Stacy
8-4-15, 10:07pm
1.
3. Ask for gift cards instead of cash, at her favorite places to shop for food, supplies and clothing. Also, easier to carry and less likely to be stolen than cash.
....
5. Small lock box. If she brings check books or has extra cash, etc..she can store in there and make sure it's safe. They have some pretty small, inconspicuous one's.

You bring up some good points about guarding against thieves. When I first went to college many years ago, my roommate made friends with some untrustworthy characters and they were in and out of our room all the time. I noticed someone had taken one of my CD's when I was packing at the end of the year, but it could have been worse.
If she gets a part-time job to help pay for expenses, she should open a checking account ASAP to keep cash out of the dorm room, and a lock box is a great idea for storing her wallet and other valuables.

Tradd
8-9-15, 3:12pm
Tradd, you are so kind to have been helping this young woman...my sister and Aunt are very gifted in Math. My Sister was in finance but now works in a private school as as teacher and she said that she went into finance for the money but now even though she makes much less she just loves her job. Being happy in your field is really important....even if it means less income....

My young friend did a lot of tutoring of younger kids as community service (required by her high school) and earned some $$ in high school by tutoring other students. She loves teaching.

We went shopping at Target yesterday. She had cash from graduation gifts and others besides me kicked in $20 here and there. It adds up. She got a set of sheets for $25, fleece blanket for about the same. Pillow for less than $10. Hangers, bathroom caddy, extension cords, power strip. Lock for her laptop. She's had so many hand me downs over the years that she wanted new stuff to start off college with. I can't fault her for that and she was definitely frugal with her shopping and only bought necessities. She bought big bottles of shampoo/conditioner/lotion, but I gave her the idea of getting some small travel sized bottles (filled up from big bottles) for carting back and forth to the bathroom for less to haul around.

Gardnr
8-10-15, 6:49pm
Can she see photos of her room? I needed to add nothing organization. I had a desk w/light. Shelf above. Shelf with door above my bed for another 2 storage locations. Closet had a great shelf and 3 drawers. Crates/totes would have been wasted $ The 1 thing I wanted badly within 6w was a coffeemaker in my room. Fortunately hubby (then boyfriend), had given me nothing for HS graduation and he sweetly gave me that coffeemaker

I can't imagine one needs much for school supplies these days. I'm all about those free pens:) and I'd likely grab a few folders and a few packs of cheap paper as I'm a notetaker.

Sounds like she's good to go for linens/clothes.

I had a small monthly $ allotment and it as mostly spent on those meals "out" with new friends. A sandwich or burger or pizza. Time well spent away from the school grind.

I know it's hard to watch all these school sales fly by, but to me, most is a waste of $ and unnecessary.

YEAH!!!!! for her for following her own drummer and not following the family lead/desire. We know a young woman who is 40 now. No one wanted her to go to college. So we pulled up our bootstraps and gave her $200 to get her started. She is still grateful. She is a successful and happy accountant, not unemployed ever!

THANK YOU for helping her:thankyou:

Gardnr
8-10-15, 6:54pm
Books: it depends on the store policy.

I suggest going early and buying used if available. My bookstore gave full refund for 7d after class started. I failed to do this 1st semester. You can bet I was there the morning my new class schedule was set to take advantage of used books. I had some new textbooks that were never opened. And to make matters worse, if not used in the next semester, there was no buyback to create a used set for the next class. ugh....

Mary B.
8-11-15, 1:59am
This is a really minor point, but I found I preferred looseleaf and a binder to notebooks. More flexible, and no disorganization caused because I had the wrong notebook for class. i carried a supply of looseleaf in a folder and never hauled a binder around. Now I'd probably take notes on the laptop, but I still feel kind of anxious if i don't have anything to write things down on.

Tussiemussies
8-11-15, 2:02am
Hi Tradd, she sounds like such a great person in devoting her time in tutoring others. It sounds like things are coming along nicely for her to be equipped for this start in her life. Kohl' s usually have great deals on comforters etc. If you spend you usually get Kohl' s great coupons for you next trip. I am just thinking that possibly in the winter the fleece blanket may not be enough if she tends to get cold and that a comforter may also be needed.

You are so sweet for helping this young woman...

Tussiemussies
8-11-15, 2:05am
I was just reading a post on Facebook similar to this and people recommended that no writing in textbooks so they can be sold later and that there is a possibility of renting textbooks...you probably thought of this already...Just fyi

Miss Cellane
8-11-15, 12:00pm
I was just reading a post on Facebook similar to this and people recommended that no writing in textbooks so they can be sold later and that there is a possibility of renting textbooks...you probably thought of this already...Just fyi

I think they will still buy back books that have highlighting or writing, just not pay as much. I seldom bought used books because of all the neon yellow highlighting in them--makes my eyes hurt.

Also depends on what subject the book is for. If it is for a major subject, and you think you might want to keep the book after the class is over, write all over it. Sometimes that is the best way to take notes and have them make sense later. I used to underline a lot in some textbooks and that really helped me in studying for finals later.

If it is for a requirement and you will never think about underwater basket-weaving again after the course is over, then plan on selling the book back, and keep it as clean as possible.

But the price you will get for a used book really depends on if any professor is using that exact edition of that book the following semester. If they are, you'll get a decent price. If they aren't, you'll get some money, but it won't be a lot. If a new edition of the book has come out, you'll get pennies on the dollar, because no one will be using the older edition anymore.