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Digital Budget Boosters for College and University Students

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As the leaves start to make their annual change of colour thousands start a new journey through higher learning. As new challenges in the classrooms of colleges and universities begin again the financial challenges of post secondary begin again too.

Technology can create large hits in the wallet that can be bigger than a diet of canned meat products and ramen noodles can fix, choosing and using high tech products and services can ease the financial blows that student life can bring.

One biggest parts of sending a child off to college or university is buying a computer to aid in studying. Most students or their parents usually buy an entry level desktop or laptop and sometimes it lasts through post secondary schooling but often it doesn't. Computers both desktops and laptops get lost, stolen and break down as part of college or university life. Alternatively that starter computer that worked well for taking notes and writing term papers in freshman year doesn't have the internal horsepower to run specialized software later on.

A high end PC designed for video editing or 3D modelling, medical data analysis can easily start in the low 1000 dollar range and go straight up from there. There is an alternative that can bring down the cost of the powerhouse PC's that these tasks require. Many companies sell off lease computers at lower prices. Off lease are computers that were rented by businesses for a year or two and resold. Most the the major PC manufacturers sell off lease computers as well as hundreds of independent dealers. At a third to a half of the retail price of an equivilant computer off lease is one of the best bargains in computing that people don't know about.

An expensive but still necessary evil is printing. Most professors or other instructors accept assignments to he handed in some digital fashion but there is many who insist on having assignments printed. Many parents hand off their old inkjet printers to their sons and daughters going off to college or university. Replacing cartridges for a printer that is just two years old can cost two to three times than the cartridges for a brand new printer. If colour printing is not needed it buying a personal laser printer is worth serious consideration. Even in black text the cost per page for inkjet runs about five or ten cents, the laser printer averages two to three cents per page. A toner cartridge for a personal laser printer will last 1000 to 2000 pages. Even the most print heavy student will get through the first year of college or university from the toner cartridge that comes with the printer. One of The best things parents can do for their children when they head out to school is a give them a brand new personal laser printer.

After tuition and rent textbooks is the next major expense that students worry about. In recent years textbooks used in post secondary study have been coming out in digital format. E-textbooks are great for portability but cost savings are minimal at best. If cost savings is the biggest factor in buying textbooks buying second hand from the student union may be a better value especially if the textbook is only going to be used for one semester. The one time that buying the electronic version provides significant cost savings are the novels, plays and collections of poems and short stories studied in literature courses. If certain works are out of print the e-book version from Amazon for the Kindle or on the Kobo bookstore may be the only way to get them at a price that is friendly on a student budget.

Living on campus may have a reputation of small cramped dorm rooms, a roommate that smells strange and bland utilitarian furniture. Dorm living provides financial incentives beyond the cheap rent. Most colleges and universities provide students who live on campus with Internet service that either free or at a much lower rate than commercially sold cable or DSL broadband service. For those students living off campus they can take advantage of student specials that the telephone and cable companies offer to get them hooked in but beware some student special promos may require signing a contract or will come bundled with other services that may end up costing more.

Getting Internet access from the college or university has further cost cutting benefits above and beyond the cost of Internet service. Educational institutions provide campus wide WiFi for all students, this eliminates the need for a high end cell phone data plan. High end smartphones such as Apple's iPhone 5S or Samsung's Galaxy S5 are commonly seen in the hands of college and university students however those high end phones come with a high end cellular plan required by the carriers. A mid range phone still has plenty of capability that can be used with basic and mid range cellular plans.

Students studying away from home have traditionally incur high long distance costs calling mom and dad back at home. Using one of the popular voice over Internet protocol telephony apps provide long distance calling while paying a fixed yearly fee. Skype the most popular Internet calling app is free for making calls between skype accounts the only thing you need to pay for are calls to and from traditional phones.

Students by the thousands are discovering cord cutting and skipping the eighty dollar (or more) per month cable TV subscription will ease the financial squeeze that students face. Watching hundreds of hours of online video from YouTube or NetFlix can run afoul of the university's Internet usage agreement. Colleges and universities put in prohibitions on high bandwidth online activities such as online video and gaming. Don't just sign the agreement without reading it first.

For students who don't consider the latest premium TV to be a need, local broadcast TV is always available, always free, and just about every show is in HD. Hooking up an antenna to any modern TV will bring local news, the top sitcoms, dramas and reality shows the broadcast networks have to offer are free for the asking.

Cheap telephone calling, Television shows and electronic textbooks provided through the Internet have the potential to be a major money saver for cash strapped students, however the only way to pay for all these online services can only be paid with credit cards. The credit card interest can make all these savings vanish into thin air. Reloadable prepaid credit cards offer a solution that allows for purchasing online products without the credit card interest. Parents can add a reloadable prepaid credit card account to their online banking as a payee just like any other credit card. Parents can send their children a monthly or weekly allowance through the reloadable prepaid credit card.

Student life just the rest of life itself can be lived more economically just through better management of the use of technology.


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