Saving money as a student

2007-08-31 10:29:00

A money tree

Most of us students aren't rich. Part-time students like me timeshare between their job and their education, trying to find a balance. Freshmen straight out of high school usually have it even harder, getting by on crappy jobs instead of a real job. Most of us rely on government grants, or support from family. All in all, we don't have it easy getting by.

Unfortunately, once you've paid your tuition, you're not done yet! There's books, study supplies, software and hardware that you'll need. And all of that stuff costs money as well! Luckily there are some nice ways to get discounts or even free stuff!

Saving on books and syllabi

School books are, in general, pretty damn expensive. One of the maths books I need for my first semester rings in at around forty euros! I'm glad to say that it's possible to get better deals online. The Netherlands' largest, online bookstore has gotten into a new market: second hand books.

In their 2eHANDS section they mediate between seller and buyer. People wanting to sell books can open an ad and name their price. Mind you, not all books on 2eHANDS are in pristine condition, some being down-right ragged. Buying books from 2eHANDS couldn't be easier since it uses the normal ordering process. You add books to your shopping cart, you proceed to checkout and you pay in the preferred manner. You won't have to worry about shipping, or talking to the seller: takes care of all that.

I managed to save about seventy euros on an order that would've otherwise cost me almost three hundred euros. Result!

When it comes to syllabi (dictaten in dutch) things will be a little bit harder. These books are usually created, printed and published by the school itself and thus much harder to find. In a lot of cases the syllabi are a waste of paper, since you'll only use them a couple of times.

Thankfully, some syllabi are available digitally and for free! Search your school's Intranet or ask your teachers if they are aware of any digital copies.

Saving on software

As a student you'll be using a lot of different software to get through school. You'll be typing reports, researching new materials, trying to prove theorems, and so on. What a lot of people don't know is that a lot of software can be found very cheaply or even for free.

Saving on Microsoft Office

Most notable among the software you will use are the various Microsoft Office tools, like Word, Excel and Powerpoint. Of course, Microsoft's software is famously expensive! Paying through the nose, just to type up your reports is a bad idea. So here are a few alternatives!

First off, offers discounted software to most of the Netherlands' students. This way you can get an official and completely legal license for MS Office at around thirty euros! Absolutely amazing! Aside from Office, Surfspot also offers huge amount of other software, like Photoshop, web design tools and security software. It's really neat!

If you have a hearty dislike for all things Microsoft and want to use an office suite other than MS Office, take a look at the following. Apple's iWork rings in at around eighty euros and is very slick. It may not have all the thousands of features that Office does, but most of us won't even need them. If you're looking for something that's completely free, take a look at Open Office. As I said it's completely free and it's available for most modern operating systems!

If you're looking for a smaller and simpler editor for your reports, take a look at Mellel. This cheap piece of software was originally created for students, authors and researchers, so they could create reports in an orderly fashion. Apparently it's rather easy to use, yet it remains powerful.

Saving on other software

A lot of commercial software has either shareware or free, open source alternatives. Try using Google to search for some software. Or dig around websites like Version Tracker or Apple Downloads.

Saving on hardware

Since I'm of the Mac-persuasion, I'll open with Apple's deals. By shopping at the Apple education store you'll get a 10% discount off all hardware acquisitions. In my opinion the Macbook makes a great companion to any student. Getting a 10% discount makes it even better!

Some colleges and universities have laptop projects, where they strike a deal with a laptop vendor to get stuff on the cheap. For instance, Hogeschool Utrecht takes part in Those guys offer laptops and various peripherals at low prices. For instance, I just noticed an external LaCie hard drive (160gb, bus powered, usb2) for a hundred euros. That's pretty damn good!

So ask around your school, or check its Intranet. Maybe you're lucky as well!

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