[ Stephanie Baldwin, 2L at the University of Arizona ]
School is expensive. We 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 not working during 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 year.
My top three tips to save money and time on common law school expenses.
1) Rent your textbooks online
I recently shared this advice with a 1L students 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 priced between $12 and $32. In early August, these same books had a price tag much higher, from $44 to $107. Once the fall semester begins and is underway, these online textbook rentals cost even more or no rentals are available. This strategy also works in February and late September. Why? Again, supply and demand. The shops are dealing with returns from students who dropped classes, so you can often pick up cheap rentals during this time.
An added 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 textbooks.
2) Think thrifty on your wardrobe
If you’re looking for a great deal on professional attire and suits, don’t overlook places like Goodwill. It’s okay to hit consignment and thrift stores, especially at the start of the spring semester. 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, try again in early January.
3) Opt for groceries delivery or pick-up
While take-out is convenient, you are often paying astronomical amounts for a single meal. Instead, try grocery pick-up and delivery services using Amazon Fresh, Walmart or whichever local grocery store you have nearby. Usually, delivery is free if you spend a minimum amount, but you can order only what you need and stop spending extra money on extra items you really don’t need. Plus, you can add things to your online cart as the week progresses and then set up delivery/pick-up for a time that works around your school schedule. This saves both money and time. You might even want to set up a free pick-up from the 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.