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Recently I had a conversation with one of my childless military spouse friends who is headed back to school to obtain her bachelor's degree. It was funny because she was loathing that it was already time to go back while I was thinking about how much I loved back to school time - a time to get back on schedule and a time for this work at home mom to get something accomplished. We both were in agreement, though, back to school expenses are not any fun at all.

 

She, like many military spouses, was incredibly resourceful when it came to paying for her college debt. She took all of the advice that other military families had offered and thankfully didn't have to worry much about paying for the classes themselves.

 

However, college isn't just about the classes. It's about the books, the electronics, the supplies, and all the other little things in between. Saving money on all of it isn't much different for her than it is for me when it comes to my kids. The same things apply: Tax-free weekends, comparative shopping, and even asking for your military discount. The biggest difference we discussed was textbooks and electronics - her two largest purchases and two I didn't have to make at all (yet).

 

Here are a few tips to help you save if you're in the same situation as she:

 

Text books

 

  • Make sure to allow yourself time; don't wait to run to the bookstore the day before your class begins.
  • Borrow and/or share
  • Buy used: The campus bookstore will sell a supply of used books, but they are limited; so check the online sources as well.
  • Rent or download: Kindle Textbook Rentals have rentals for 30 days to a year for 80% off the price for the paper books.
  • Sell last year's textbooks online to make money to go towards this year.

 

Electronics

 

  • Dell, Hewlett Packard, and Apple all offer student discounts.
  • Watch for rebates and bundles during BTS shopping days and be sure to take advantage of tax-free if it's offered.
  • Apple's Education Store, Microsoft, and many Adobe software products are available at significant student discounts.
  • Download.com offers free music, videos, games and utilities.
  • Purchase insurance to protect your valuables. Especially if you live on campus - your high dollar items are worth the investment in a little piece of mind.