This post is in partnership with NUU Mobile.
Ohh August always brings me back to cracking open a new stack of post-its, the smell of a fresh notebook, and everything else that comes with back to school time! I loved being in school so much, I stayed until I was 25! Ha! I kid – but that's when I did graduate with my Master's degree so I definitely was in school longer than your standard four year degree. Over the years, I learned a lot about back to school shopping and which “must haves” are worth it and which can actually save you money in the long run!
I made the mistake of stacking up one wayyy to many reams of paper that I'm still working through all these years later… and not investing in the right things early on. You see college is actually the perfect time to get a head start on your financial future. Buying the right things now, you can go from broke college student to actually putting money in savings or towards your student loan repayment.
Which is why today I wanted to talk to you about the back to school “must haves” you'll actually use after college and will ultimately save you money in the long run!
NUU Mobile Smartphone
Instead of dropping a grand on other uber popular phones, consider getting a NUU Mobile G3 unlocked cell phone for under $200! Seriously, it's just like have a bigger name brand phone – but without spending hundreds of more dollars. It runs Android software and unlocks with the touch of your finger. Plusss if you're a selfie queen too it has not one – but TWO cameras to help you get all your close-ups and wide-angle shots. It even has a “pro” camera feature that lets you manually adjust focus, ISO, exposure, and lighting to get your pictures looking exactly how you want! The quality of your calls and streaming is great too thanks to VoLTE technology which keeps everything sounds crisp and clear!
Lastly, if you're supa broke and want to either split your phone with a friend or “rent” your phone out (is that a side hustle? it should be) the NUU Mobile G3 has a dual SIM feature making it easy for you to switch between two numbers or two data plans in the same phone.
I don't know if this is always the case, but when I was on their website it even popped up offering an additional 30% off on accessories (cases, waterproof earbuds, etc.), so that's another win. Plus if you're someone who generally loses or drops their phone a lot it may be better to just go with a lower cost alternative during college (because LBH, college is the place you'll most frequently lose or damage your phone, and the NUU Mobile G3 also comes with a one-year warranty). Plus this way, the $500-800 you would've spent on a different phone can go towards investing in yourself (savings account, retirement, money towards repaying student loans).
Reusable cups and straws
I get how easy it can be to just grab a stack of paper plates, plastic cups and straws for your dorm room or apartment and wing the whole “dishes” thing. But the truth is, by getting yourself a nice reusable cup and straw your not only saving a ton of money, you're also helping the environment! Plus after college you'll be able to take these with you and they'll keep saving you money – #truth: I still have a handful of my reusable cups from undergrad and wasn't that budget or environmentally conscious at the time to even know reusable straws were a thing! Oh and a lot of places offer “cup discounts” where if you bring your own cup they give you a 5-10% discount on your drink.
Aside from the fact that drinking from plastic water bottles isn't generally considered the safest/healthiest option – do you even know how much money you waste in buying water bottles?! Last year alone, Americans were estimated to spend over $16 Billion on bottled water! Consider getting some sort of water filter (whether it's one that goes in your fridge, or if your a taste snob, they make awesome countertop filtration systems today). Getting a water filter for your place to refill your reusable cup will save you potentially hundreds of dollars a year. Plus it's good for the environment, so it's a double dose of goodness!
Pressure cooker / crock pot
Meals out are the biggest culprit of draining your limited bank account and expanding your waste line – and trust me the freshman 15 is real. So while it's tempting to pull up a food delivery app on your NUU Mobile G3 phone consider getting a pressure cooker or crock pot to make some super simple “dump” meals. A “dump” meal if you're not familiar is when you literally just have to dump all the ingredients in the pot, turn it on with a timer, and then forget about it until you're ready to eat! Personally, I like to make enough that'd serve 6-8 in one of these, and then I just freeze the rest so I have food for a week or two to make my life even easier! And trust me, once you're out of college and working the 9-5 grind, you'll be happy you're already in this habit!
Ditch the cable bill and opt for a streaming device. If you have your parent's cable login you can login to tons of the network apps without having to pay anything beyond the initial cost of the device! Otherwise you can pay a lot less than a normal cable bill for your favorite streaming apps.
A quality small speaker
I can't even tell you how many $20 drug store speakers I went through in college. They were always breaking or just straight up dying out of nowhere. Plus I could barely hear them. Do yourself a favor, instead of wasting $20 every semester for a new speaker, just buy a really nice small portable one. Take good care of it (*ahem* don't leave it on spring break!) and it'll last you wayyyyy past college.
When I was in undergrad I got my first e-reader (back when they were starting at $500+!) Today, you can get an e-reader for under $100 and it can save you LOADS of money! A lot of libraries will let you download digital books right to your device. So even while you're on campus, you can borrow books from your library back home rather than spending tons of money on reading. My e-reader from sophomore year lasted almost 10 years before I had to replace it! That's a lot of money saved!