Savvy Spender: Best Local Bargains

28 Oct

Macklemore on stage in black and white

Photo by: thecomeupshow

Feeling a bit strapped for cash these days? No worries, you’re not alone. Measly budgets are all part of the college experience, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style, fun, comfort…or your credit score!

You can save big money in just about every area of your life if you know how to shop. Fortunately, we have lots of insider tips to get you started.


Thrift Store clothes rackThank you, Macklemore, for making thrift shopping not only acceptable but actually trendy. If you’re not already poppin’ tags, you’re missing out.

Lafayette is chock full of thrift shops. Tip: More upscale areas tend to offer a more stylish selection of clothes and accessories. Don’t be surprised if you see name-brand, barely used stuff for pennies on the dollar.

Next time you’re in Indianapolis, make some time to hit up the thrift shops. You can score a lot more than clothing: many shops carry dishes, décor, and other home furnishings.

Bonus: The “vintage” look has never been more in style. Why pay a department store to create that look for you when you can wear authentic vintage clothing for a fraction of the price?


Headed for a department or big box store to trick out your dorm or apartment with furniture?

Not so fast. You can score quality furniture for much less if you do so by secondhand. Check out Craigslist for local listings. (Make sure to make safe arrangements, meet in public if possible, and

Photo by: Theif12 Permission by: Creative Commons

Photo by: Theif12
Permission by: Creative Commons

always bring a friend!) You might even find FREE stuff.

You can also use Craigslist or YardSaleSearch to look for yard sales. Also, the beginning and end of each semester are both great times to look around the neighborhood for furniture placed on the curb by people moving out.


Embrace the library — and not just Purdue’s library; scope out the local library as well. You can find really good movies on DVD, as well as music, magazines, newspapers and, of course, books. It’s all free!

Some libraries even offer free downloads of electronic books for your Kindle or iPad.

Zami student housingHousing

Purdue doesn’t require students to live on campus. Make sure you shop around, comparing rates for dormitories and meal plans to rates for apartments in town. Once again, Craigslist is your friend here!

Living with roommates saves money, and the willingness to live a block or two outside the “hot” areas can save big bucks as well.

The Bottom Line

College is a great time to master thrifty tricks. Why pay full price when you can manage the style, entertainment, and lifestyle you want for a fraction of the cost?


Ellen Hunter Gans, M.A., MSc. is a writer, editor and communications strategist who contributes to The Simple Dollar’s credit card portal. The Minnesota native has been writing about finance (among other things) for over four years. Find her on LinkedIn.

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