[ Stephanie Baldwin, 2L at the University of Arizona ]
School is expensive; we all know this. Even if you have a scholarship, most of us take the maximum amount of student loans to ensure that we can survive while we are not working in law school. I usually considered myself frugal, but I was not well disciplined with my 1L first-semester money (I have my loan distributed both semesters rather than all at once in the fall). So, beginning with my second semester, I returned to my best spending habits, and have maintained this through 2L. Here are my top three tips to save money and time on common law school expenses.
Rent Your Textbooks
I recently shared this advice with a 1L, and they couldn’t believe how much you can save by renting your textbooks online. Sure, many of you know this already, but did you know if you shop for books in early December or July, you can rent the books for half price, in many cases? Why? Supply and Demand. For example, my books for last semester to rent were $12 to $32. In early August, these same books were $44 to $107. When the Fall semester started, these rental books cost even more, or no rentals were available. This strategy also works in February and late September. Why? Again, supply and demand. The shops are dealing with returns from people who dropped the classes that they needed the books for, so you can often pick up cheap rentals during this time.
Another tip, to be extra frugal is to use the Reserve Books
One of my friends has yet to buy a law book. They complete all of their readings using the books on reserve in the library. I am not sure if every law school does this, but if they do, this is another option to save a ton on your books.
Timing Matters to Save on your Wardrobe too
If you’re looking for a great deal on professional outfits and suits, do not overlook Goodwill. I wrote about this last semester, but it is important to mention again with Spring OCI interviews coming up, since your wardrobe may need to be refreshed. Now is the perfect time to hit consignment and thrift stores. Why? People have received or purchased new outfits with their holiday money, so these stores are full of suits and outfits that people replaced. If you have tried shopping at one of these stores before and did not have great results, it’s the perfect time to try again.
Skip Postmates and try Delivery or Scheduled Pick up Groceries instead.
While food delivery services are convenient, you are often paying astronomical amounts for a single meal. Instead, try grocery services like Amazon Prime Now, Amazon Fresh, Walmart Delivery, or whatever your local grocery store is. Usually, delivery is free if you spend a minimum amount, but you can order what you need and stop spending extra money on things that end up in your grocery cart. You can add things to your cart as the week progresses and then set up delivery for a time you know you will be home from school. This can save you both time and money. Or, set up a free pickup from a grocery store right after you leave class. Unlike Postmates, the prices are the same as if you actually went into the store, and you will save time because you don’t do the shopping yourself.
How do you like to save money and time on law school expenses? Let me know over at the @The2LLife on Twitter and Instagram.