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How to save money on college essentials

Your daughter moving away and heading off to college, which means that she'll need to stock up on things like textbooks and dorm supplies. The list of things to buy for your daughter is typically pretty lengthy and usually adds up to one big expense. There are ways, however, to save money on the things she'll need most for school.

Determine what "essential" means
While items like color-coordinated bedsheets, collections of DVDs and video game systems may seem like vital items to bring to college, you may want to spend your money elsewhere. Oftentimes, college students end up donating or throwing out their bedsheets, because they only fit on their extra-long beds in their dorm room. Other miscellaneous items like entertainment systems and collections of DVDs may not even fit comfortably in the room. Before purchasing something, have your daughter ask herself if what she's buying is based on a need or a want.

Rent textbooks
Instead of having your daughter buy her textbooks, encourage her to rent them instead. When buying books, students typically get a very low return when reselling. With renting, however, you can usually get textbooks for half the cost of buying. Some schools have their own rental programs, so check with the university before getting the books.

Avoid name brands
When it comes to buying toiletries like shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothbrushes, etc., opt for the off brands. They're often equal in quality, but much cheaper, lowering your overall bill.

Reuse supplies
If your daughter still has notebooks, binders or folders available from her homeschool program, she can take those to college with her so they're one less thing she has to worry about purchasing.

Compare computers
Laptops have become essential for college students over the years. Before you and your daughter buy one, however, make sure to shop around to ensure you're getting the most bang for your buck. You may also want to check with your daughter's university, as they might have a partnership with a certain brand and can get you a discount.

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