Cheat sheet to affording academia


By Alexandra Hanrath

On the case of thrifty spending

Tuition and housing are a hefty weight to shoulder, but the tools you need to succeed in university don’t have to break your back.

Knowing where to go for your school supplies is as essential as knowing what you need to perform at your best. Will you be taking notes by hand or on your computer/tablet? Will you print at home or at the library or other Uprint locations?

Gizmos Galore

Let’s start with the digital side of things.

Buying a laptop or tablet for classes is a tricky situation that requires a lot of patience. Best Buy is a good place to start, they tend to have a lot of back-to-school sales.

Amazon will also offer things for a low price, especially when it comes to memory cards, USB sticks, mice, even printer ink. Since you’re now affiliated with the University of Waterloo, you’ll be able to access a six month trial with Amazon Prime, including two-day free shipping.

In person, Walmart is probably your go-to for school supplies. Unfortunately printer ink is about the same price no matter where you go. Make sure you check the prices at multiple places before you buy, it could save you a dollar or two. Although it isn’t cheap, sometimes your best bet for a long lasting printer is a laser printer. You replace the ink far less often and they tend to print faster than that $20 printer you got on sale.


Always, and I mean always, pesture your professors to see if an earlier edition will do. It can save you plenty of money and budgeting expenses. Majority of the times, editions are updated for the most benign reasons, like chapters being switched around. If it’s the case that an earlier edition works, check out Feds Used Book store to see if they carry any. You might also be able to find used copies of textbooks through the UW textbook exchange Facebook group.

Check out your UW Book Look account a few weeks before classes to find out what your courseware is. Often times, old or even new editions of textbooks will be available for much cheaper on Amazon.

There are also many regional used book stores that might carry donated textbooks. The Old Goat in Uptown Waterloo looks quaint and homely, but it’s stocked with shelves of assorted materials. In case that doesn’t work out for you, there’s also Words Worth Books.

The most economical option for avoiding heft textbook expenses altogether is probably the library. Most courseware can be found on the on campus libraries. If your textbooks are listed as course reserves, be warned there will be a time limit of how long you can access them. Although if you’re an adrenaline junky, a time limit might actually help with your studying. My pro-tip for you is to find an older edition of your text and just borrow that for the whole semester.

Stocked with the essentials

No matter your budget, you can make your supplies work for you. Besides the dollar store, Walmart and Staples are usually your alternative for finding the cheapest stationary. Incase, these options fail to be the most aesthetically pleasing, there’s always MINISO.


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