Money Saving Tips for Undergraduate Students

Living on your own for the first time with a fixed budget and limited income is a challenge for most college students. At Tufts, there are many ways students can utilize campus resources and cost-saving measures to minimize spending and maximize their college experience. What better way to learn these tips than from current Jumbos? Please take a look at the following cost-saving tips from your fellow students.


Buy used books from Tufts University Bookstore

A limited number of used books are available, so try to get there early. The Bookstore does buy back books at the end of the semester, but typically will pay 50% at most, and sometimes will not buy back a book if a newer edition has been released.

Buy or rent lower priced books online

You can almost always find books at a lower cost than the price at the bookstore on sites like Amazon, AbeBooks, or Chegg. You may be able to find a free version of a book online.

Buy, sell, or trade other students' books

You can try to buy books from or trade books with people you know who've taken the same class before. There is a Tufts Textbook Exchange group on Facebook where students post books they need or are selling, allowing for possible trades or purchases.

Borrow books on reserve at Tisch Library

Most instructors place multiple copies of the textbooks needed for their class on reserve at the library for student use. You can search the library website find out if they have the book you need, and whether it is checked out or available. Also, for many classes, such as Math 11 and Math 12, there is a teacher's solution manual on reserve in the library (the version at the bookstore only has solutions to odd-numbered problems).

Borrow books from a public library

If you are taking a course that will read fiction or other popular books, you may be able to borrow them from the Medford, Somerville, or Cambridge Public Library. They are all part of the Minuteman Library Network. You can obtain a card at any branch with proof of address (mail that has been delivered to you).

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Take advantage of your meal plan

Buying coffee and snacks can be very expensive. All first year undergraduate students have the Premium Meal Plan, which gives you access to the dining halls multiple times per day. The dining halls are open from early morning to 9 PM. If you have time, always take advantage of your meal plan before buying a snack at places like the Commons, Hotung or Tower. But, if you do end up at those spots frequently, check for a punch card to get a free coffee. Hodgdon also takes meal swipes and generally has the same food and pastries as the other cafes, so use your swipe there if you don't have time to go to a dining hall.

Buy snacks in bulk

You can buy snacks in bulk from grocery stores like bfresh in Davis Square, Star Market in Porter Square, or Stop & Shop on Alewife Brook Parkway. You'll pay a lot more for granola bars if you buy them individually instead of buying a box of them. You can also save by ordering snacks from Amazon. Or, if a family member is visiting, ask them to bring you snacks!

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For Your Room

Ignore the big store lists

You'll need sheets and towels for sure. Don't buy every little thing recommended to college students by big-name stores. Depending on your living situation, there are many things on their lists that you may not need. Be aware that you can buy things you need after arriving at school. There's even a school-sponsored trip to Bed Bath and Beyond for first-year students at the beginning of the year. And you can always buy stuff online later and have it shipped to campus.

Buy stuff from other students

Check out the Tufts Buy/Sell/Trade Facebook page for students buying and selling items. You can get almost anything you want from a fellow student.

Skip renting the Microfridge

If you really need a fridge, it's much cheaper to buy it yourself and keep it for four years. Plus, you will be able to use it after college as well. A separate microwave is not allowed in your room, but you can just go to the kitchen down the hall. Check out Res Life room policies.

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Getting Around

Get a Charlie Card to ride the T

If you will be riding the T (the Boston area's subway and bus service) more than once, instead of buying a one-trip Charlie Ticket, you should get a Charlie Card, a hard, reusable pass.

A subway ride on a Charlie Card is $2.25, vs $2.75 for the same trip on a Charlie ticket. The Charlie Card stores value, so you can add $5 or $10 and use it for multiple trips without having to stop at the fare machine.

You can get a Charlie card at many T stations, including Harvard and Park Street, and at the 7-Eleven right by the T station in Davis Square. Bus routes 80, 94, and 96 have stops on campus, and you can access the Red Line subway to Boston at Davis Square.

Ride the Tufts Shuttle

The Tuft Shuttle runs between the Campus Center and Davis Square, and it is always free. The schedule is online. Try to avoid cabs, and apps like Lyft and Uber as the T and Tufts Shuttle are easily accessible and more affordable.

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Free Fun

Catch a movie or show

You can go to free movie screenings hosted by TUSC's Film Series or scope out the movie selection at the Tisch Library to save on movie tickets. Or check out the free dance or drama performances, acapella shows, and musical ensemble performances on campus. You can buy tickets online for some events. Keep in mind some ticket prices increase closer to the date of the show.

Visit museums and monuments

Your Tufts ID gets you free admission into the Museum of Fine Arts. You can walk the Freedom Trail that begins at Boston Common and ends at the Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown. Google "free things to do in Boston" for more ideas.

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Other Tips

Fight the flu for free

You can get a free flu shot at Health and Wellness. This will cut down on the cost of cold medicine and cough drops when flue season arrives.

Save on printing and copying

You'll have $10 of JumboCash each year for copies, but after that you'll have to pay to print. Consider sharing a printer with a roommate or friend. Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, and Computer Engineering students, or those who have an EECS account form taking an Engineering course can print in Halligan Hall for free.

Seek out Student Success and Advising

The Office for Student Success and Advising (OSSA) website has a number of resources to help first and second year students.

Ask an upperclassman

Of course, there are many more ways to save money at Tufts, and these are just a few suggestions. Don't be afraid to ask upperclassman where you can find good deals, or about other little tricks to save money on or around campus.

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