By tamaraHave you started your college shopping list for the summer or fall semester? If so, don’t rush out and start purchasing items just yet. Although there are many items you will need, it helps to do a little pre-planning and research before you hit the stores. If you don’t, your bank account could go into severe shock. It know it’s hard to resist all those trendy items and the color coordinated room packages, but trust me, there’s a better way to get everything you need without going broke. Just follow these simple tips for reducing your college expenses and you’ll not only be hanging out in a totally cool space, but you may also have some leftover money, as well. Get Organized College dorm rooms are notoriously tiny. This is not an exaggeration; they are really small. If you have a roommate, or several, you will probably find excuses not to be in your room whenever possible, simply because you have no space. If you want to fit everything you need (and stuff you don’t) into your room, you’ll need to get organized. This is where bins and other containers come in handy. Unfortunately, buying these items brand new at your local retailer can get expensive, so start hitting up garage sales to see what’s available. You typically can snag plastic bins and containers for $1 or $2 each (used), which is about a 75% savings over new bins. For smaller organizers, head over to your local dollar store, as they often carry sizes that are perfect for storing your school and cleaning supplies, as well as your toiletries. Be Thrifty Thrift stores are a college student’s best friend; most carry electronics, small appliances, housewares and clothing. It’s a good idea to stop by on a Tuesday or Wednesday, after the weekend donations have been processed and put out for purchase, so you can snag the best items before they disappear. Be sure to look here first for your microwave, mini-fridge, printer and storage bins, as you can save 50% or more off retail prices. Thrift stores are also a great place to pick up silverware and dinnerware for your room. While you’re there, pop a few tags and update your wardrobe, too! Avoid the Campus Bookstore One of the biggest aggravations you will have as a college student is purchasing textbooks each semester. Depending on your major, you could be spending $300, $500 or even more, if you purchase new books through the campus bookstore. You can keep more cash in your wallet by purchasing used books through many of the online retailers, such as Amazon or Better World Books, or renting them through one of the many other online book retailers. Another way to save some serious dough is by checking with students currently in the courses you plan to take next semester and arranging to borrow their books or purchase them at a lower rate. Don’t forget to check Craigslist for bargains in your area and make the rounds at your local colleges during the final week of the semester. Many students who are heading home will toss out their organizers and sell their appliances dirt cheap, especially if they are not returning or have to travel by plane. It’s a good idea to set a budget each semester, too. Decide how much you will spend on supplies, food, clothing, travel, entertainment and other expenses. Whenever possible, partner up with other students to purchase in bulk or get group discounts, and don’t forget to look for coupons or sales. A little research and preparation can save you quite a bit of money. If you stick to your plan and save enough, you can use the extra cash to help cover some of your college fees or start paying off your student loans. Want to save even more money for college? Check out the fun scholarships offered by ScholarshipExperts.com. There’s a new award every month, valued between $1,000 and $5,000. Good luck!