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10 Expensive Things You Don’t Really Need in College

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College is expensive and the majority of students complain about their financial situations, but many of those students are guilty of paying for things they really don’t need to survive. From expensive books to technological gadgets, here are 10 pricy things you can probably go without.

1. Car.

Freshmen who live on campus aren’t allowed to have cars at many colleges and universities, but even if you are it’s a good idea to rethink your decision. Costs understandably vary by a vehicle’s type, size, and condition, but CNN reports that the American Automobile Association found U.S. consumers spend roughly $7,000 per year to have a small car when gas, routine maintence, repairs, auto insurance, tires and depreciation are factored in. Unless you’re a commuter student, you can most likely survive without bringing your wheels to school—and save a lot of cash.

2. Smartphone.

According to Forbes, Pew Research Center has found that over 50% of adult Americans now own smartphones, but those handheld devices are considered essential for survival in the eyes of those between the ages of 18 and 34. (Just 20% of consumers who fall into that age bracket do not have smartphones.) There’s no denying that they’re convenient, but somehow we survived before their existence … and there’s no denying that the cost of a data plan, smartphone apps, covers and accessories, and insurance can put a dent in your bank account.

3. Brand new textbooks.

These days, college textbooks cost over 800% higher than they did in the late 1970s, reports The Huffington Post. Books and school go together like peanut butter and jelly, but fortunately there are less expensive alternatives than brand new books. Some students opt to share books with friends who are enrolled in the same classes, others purchase their books used, and textbook rental programs are popping up on campus and online.

4. Fake ID.

Underage drinking is against the law, but that doesn’t stop a lot of college students. A study published by the American Psychological Association in 2007 states that over 32% of fourth semester college students surveyed admitted to owning a fake ID. Ordered online or purchased from somewhat shady friends of friends of friends, those identification cards can cost a couple hundred dollars or more. Not only are these teens and young adults with fake IDs breaking the law in more ways than one, Pacific Standard reports that they are more likely to be binge drinkers than those without. It’s just not worth it.

5. Greek life.

Sororities and fraternities seem like a great way to meet new friends at college, but get ready to spend. US News blogger Julie Mayfield wrote that her daughter’s sorority-related costs were over $3,200 during her freshman year of college. Yes, you may get that feeling of belonging and possibly even make future business connections that will help you years down the road, but it’s completely possible to do that without going Greek.

6. Desktop AND laptop computers.

Computer labs are abundant on college campuses, but most students prefer to have their own PC so they can do assignments or go online at their convenience. In fact, a survey of 500 American college students found that 73% could not study without using some type of technology, reports Mashable. Many prefer laptops for their portablity but decide to keep a faster or more powerful desktop computer in their dorm or apartment as well. In most cases, this is an unnecessary expense—it’s generally possible to survive with one or the other.

7. Tablet.

Convenient, portable and fun, iPads and their competitors continue to grow in popularity. A study conducted by Transparency Market Research claims that tablet sales are continued to grow by nearly 40% through 2015, reports BGR. But even though the thought of playing games, reading the news, or sending an email from a device as small and thin as a legal pad is appealing, you may want to think twice before laying down the cash to buy a tablet. EWeek believes that they cannot completely replace computers (and may never be able to.)

8. Furniture.

College dorm rooms aren’t fancy, but they come equipped with basics like beds, desks and chairs. Back to school shopping sales can cause you to believe you need to purchase bookshelves, floor lamps, beanbag chairs, and more, but there’s a good chance they won’t even fit in your room. Save yourself some money and deal with what you’re given just like everyone else.

9. TV.

A fairly new trend among college students is binge watching, or watching entire seasons of TV shows in one sitting or over the course of a weekend, writes Washington Post reporter Jenna Johnson. Fun, sure, but it doesn’t really require a pricy TV. Use your computer to stream shows via the Internet or watch in a common area.

10. Meal plan.

Run of the mill cafeterias may be disappearing from college campuses to make way for fast food options and made to order meals, but these changes come at a cost. According to US News, the average price of room and board on college campuses rose over $250 in 2009. Meal plans are often required for students who live in student housing, but a few options are usually available. It’s unlikely that you’ll actually eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at a campus dining facility every single day, so why pay for food you aren’t going to eat?


Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.

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