College town bargains

Many personal finance and college blogs lament the marketing of credit cards to jobless college students. Young people often make foolish impulse purchases to support the lifestyle they feel entitled to. True, young adults tend to be big shoppers, and often fail to see the big picture of rampant spending and credit card use.

We can spend all day clucking “tsk-tsk” over their extravagance and wastefulness. Not to mention the reality of many students continuing to pay interest on discarded items for years to come. However, their consumerism can be to your advantage if you live in a college town.

Students tend to leave vast piles of stuff behind when they leave campus for the summer. Many colleges have big year-end sales to liquidate all that stuff.

In fact, I went to the annual Clean Sweep Sale at Bates College (Lewiston, Maine) this morning. Each year, Bates manages to fill an entire hockey rink with students’ abandoned belongings (and some donations from the community). The sale is completely volunteer-run, and all proceeds go to various local charities. Bates, by the way, is an elite college located in the middle of a very poor city. I think it’s a great support service for the community– great bargains for shoppers and needed assistance for charities. Not to mention all that perfectly good stuff being re-used instead of going into landfills.

At the Bates sale, you’ll find piles and piles of clothing, electronics, appliances, dorm/household items, sporting goods, furniture, books, and more. Sure, some of it is pure crap, and the early birds get all the good stuff. Still, there are always treasures to be found. I picked up a few paperbacks and a nice (practically new) purple v-neck top. Total purchase: three dollars. (I hemmed and hawed over one particular solid oak desk with a hutch selling for $25. It wouldn’t fit in my car.)

Anyway, if you live in a college town, it’s worth your while to find out if similar sales are going on. Also, check your local craigslist site for free and inexpensive student discards. It’s daunting to think about the waste involved, but you can help re-use and recycle these discarded items. Always try to take advantage of these opportunities in your area!


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Filed under cheap fun, frugal, shopping

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