College Students: Are these Typical Expenses Worth the Money?

As a follow-up to a few recent articles examining whether tobacco or lotto tickets are worth the money, I’d be interested in understanding whether a few other things college students typically purchase are worth the money, too. As a college student, you probably know better than most how tough it is to make ends meet. You’re likely living on Ramen noodles and scrounging cash whenever you can. Based on my experiences, here are some typical college purchases that you can certainly live without (and save).

Picture Credit Cuyahoga Community College

1.    Single Coffee Drinks At Cafes.

When I reviewed my expenses after my first year in college, I can say with a straight face that my most costly single expense was coffee. Your university likely has a somewhat cheaper campus café, but no matter where you get your coffee, if you don’t make it yourself, it’s going to add up. Starbucks coffee drinks run between 2 and 6 dollars a pop. Even if you get one of these drinks daily, you’re looking at almost $100 dollars in coffee alone. Instead of buying single cup coffees, make a cup of joe with a good old fashioned coffee maker. It’s the same amount of caffeine for a quarter of the price.

2.    Cheap Beer.

I would advise college students to abstain from alcohol altogether. It’s really not that much fun. But if you must indulge, stop buying huge packs of cheap beer that tastes like water! Instead, buy a (slightly more) expensive six pack of quality craft beer, and enjoy the taste instead of seeking a buzz. It’s better for your health and your pocketbook.

3.    Overpriced New (or even used) Textbooks.

Students seem more than willing to overspend on textbooks. I can’t imagine why any student in their right mind would buy a new textbook. Even some used textbooks at university bookstores can be incredibly expensive. Instead of buying these books on campus, look online for the books you need. You’re almost definitely sure to find the cheapest price on sites like eBay and Amazon. While it may require a little bit of planning since you have to wait for your books to ship, it’ll save you hundreds.

4.    Parking.

Of course, it’s great to have a car on-campus with you. You instantly become everyone’s best friend. But really, if you aren’t commuting to school, there’s no point in taking a car with you. Besides the outrageous price of gas, most universities charge an arm and a leg for parking. My alma mater charged $400 per semester! Although having a car may make your life more convenient, if you live on-campus, then your business should be in your dorm room studying. Use public transportation for necessary outings.
Of course, there are tons of other student expenses that plague those of you attending college. I’ve found these to be my Achilles’ heels. What about you?

Melissa Miller has sworn her life to helping others do the same by explaining the often tricky world of online education. Direct any questions or comments to melissamiller831 (at)

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