Starting off with fashion advice:It is not complicated to create fashionable looks for less (H&M, TJMaxx, Marshalls, DSW, Vintage or thrift stores) . Besides, most of the people around you will wear their workout clothes/pajamas/free tees to school anyway. As a fashion student, I try to look like it. My rule: DRESS HOW YOU WANT TO BE ADDRESSED.
When it comes to buying clothing I sporadically pick up items all summer long and catch pre-fall sales for anything that I might think I liked for the colder months as well as fall. To tell you the truth the best time to shop for WINTER stuff is the end of season clearance around Feb. When buying jackets; if you stick to a classic cut and style, and end of season purchase won't look out of season.
There is a good college fashion website, http://www.collegefashion.net/ , that isn't always my taste, but can be helpful including lots of online shopping codes and further looks for less.
Budgeting takes discipline. I took a consumer behavior class and for a month I had to write everything I spent money on and place it into categories. www.mint.com does that for you, they even have a simple pie chart that tells you how much and what you spend your money on. From there you know what you don't need, and what you need more of.
OTHER MISC. STUFF:For new students, your first semester is going to take a load out of your wallet. I'm just letting you know right now, stocking up your pantry, school supplies, lab fees, parking fee's or parking pass, and BOOKS. My advice is simple. I don't want to write you a book, just take these things into account when you are venturing into adulthood.
1) Don't BUY a book unless you absolutely have to buy it. Look, I'm not cool with buying a $200 book and getting $20 back at the end of a semester. Sorry, Barnes and Noble but your best bet is to RENT YOUR TEXTBOOKS! Chegg.com, bookrenter.com, neebo.com... the list goes on. The website http://www.rentscouter.com/ Helps sort all of the websites to help you assess what the best price is. I just used it and ordered a book from www.Campusbookrentals.com I have never spent over $300 on textbooks ever. Total I usually spend around $200 on books. For example last semester IF I bought my books through my school it would have cost me $700, through a lot of researching, it cost me $110.
If you decide to rent from Campusbookrentals.com you can save 5% with my link: http://campusbookrentals.extole.com/a/clk/24HtJW
(*bonus tip, my school issues us credit cards. My refund money applies straight onto the card they issue. When I use my card on certain merchants I earn cash back. I ordered some books on chegg.com and on bookrenter.com and earned 8% -10%cashback! Look for things like this when trying to save money for online purchases, they make the perks for YOU, so USE THEM.)
2) Food. Most freshman have a mealplan. My only advice is, try not to get fat. I tried. Key word TRIED. I think its inevitable. Try not to snack, that was my issue. Also eating out all the time is going to take a chunk of your change, try to limit yourself. It will be healthy for you AND your wallet. If you have a rec center, use it (now I realize I am not taking my own advice here, but I have lost the freshman15 and then some, PLUS I walk like 10 blocks to get to class.I would rather do Pilates or crunches at home, or go on a scenic run, I have this thing with being in public working out... its odd... but anyway I am wasting my money by not using the rec!) Check your itemized fee statement, my rec center charges us over $200 a semester. Thats 4 months, WTF. That's more than a real gym. Billy Blake sure as hell doesn't teach classes but they charge like he does.
3) If you will be living in an apartment can I just share how amazing target is when it comes to food. Archers Farms is always on point. I mean have you tried Wal-Mart's Great Value stuff? Its not that great. But whatever they do at Archers Farms... It's heavenly. If you want to save money and still get a quality product go for it. It even looks fancy.And as far as apartment shopping goes, stores like Marshalls, Ross, and TJ Maxx are great places to find great items that are affordable. Also Target too, has the apartment essentials on lock. Thats where most of my bedroom comes from!
-oh and you will need to purchase a full length mirror. Be sure to have that.
If anyone has any specific questions I have answers, comment here or twitter or email me: