Some Spending Money for the Holidays: My eBay Experiment

My new goal for the next few months? Downsizing.

I’ve only got about four more months with Columbia, Mo., as my home base. Then I’ll be spending some time in upstate New York and at home, then 10 weeks interning in NYC. Then… well, who knows? But I don’t expect to buy a house or rent a large apartment for at least another two years.

So I’m trying to get rid of stuff: clothes, furniture (haha, I own only this circular chair thing that doesn’t even fit anywhere in my current bedroom), old electronics, more clothes, shoes, accessories I never use, old notebooks (honestly, these are the hardest. WHAT IF I NEED THOSE NOTES ABOUT GAME THEORY?), books (also terribly hard to let go of. I was planning to get rid of some before break but they’re still in a paper bag in my car) and at least some random knick-knacks.

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A few ways to cut down on some of the major college expenses

What’s the biggest expense you face as a college student? (Besides tuition – the only thing that helps there is scholarships, scholarships, smart planning and cheaper schools.)

Do you dread textbook-buying season? Shudder at the thought of trying to fly home for break (because it costs so much, not because you’re dreading seeing your family)?

Whatever it is, there are ways to cut down on the cost. Here are some quick tricks I’ve picked up from the college rat race.

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Starting a retirement or investment account early

I’ve got more than $5,000 invested in a Roth IRA and stocks. But I’ve been lucky.

Even if you don’t have a lot of spare capital to lock into a retirement account, you can still get started with low-minimum investment accounts.

I started an investment account and a Roth IRA with money earned at summer internships and the money freed up by a big scholarship. That was a huge windfall – but if I didn’t have that chance, I’d still want to invest some money.

First, why a Roth IRA rather than a different type of retirement account?

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Scrimpin’ and Savin’ for the Fun Stuff: Textbook Edition

Money! We all want it, use it, need it. Unfortunately, your college also really wants to drain you dry.

Kidding! I love colleges. They are always totally motivated by concern for providing you the best education. Of course.

My expenses for college in Spring 2011 looked like this:

Yes, I did spend 15% of my money on Starbucks. I'm working on it.

The biggest thing you should note: I managed to spend about the same amount on textbooks as I did on Starbucks. Just stop and think about this for a moment.

Also, I didn’t include room and board here as that’s paid well in advance by my wonderful, generous parents. That came to upwards of $5,000 last year. Dorm living and dining plans, what can you do? It’s best to focus on things you can control.

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