As a shopping lover, you might be an expert in shopping in your home country, but I’m sure you will need these tips and strategies to survive in the overwhelming shopping choices and stores in the US.
Save for the most necessary ones. Here in Ann Arbor, first and foremost, you need to be well equipped for winter because winter is not far when fall comes. In order to survive in the five to six months’ winter time, you need to get your winter clothes ready. Winter clothes usually cost more than summer t-shirts, so be prepared to spend some good amount of money on your winter clothes to keep you warm and comfortable. Don’t buy too much when clothes are on sale before you make sure you really need them.
Consider textbook as a part of your budget. Don’t expect you can deal with textbooks within a few bucks. However, there are still ways to save on textbook spending. I believe most of you know about Amazon, but how about Amazon Student Prime. Currently, Amazon has six-month membership free trial which can give you unlimited two-day free shipping for half a year. How does that sound? There is more textbook-focused website like Chegg which makes it more convenient to rent and purchase books. Half-ebay also has good deals on used textbooks. It is really your choice to choose between purchasing new books or used ones. I would recommend used books because according to my experiences, I’ve always been surprised and satisfied with the quality of used books. Make sure you are looking for the required edition or ask your professor before you make the purchase. Finally, don’t forget the UM Book Exchange in the beginning of every semester.
Search for online coupons. You can always find online coupons of some online stores, such as Sephora (personal care), H&M (clothes), etc. Try to search online coupons (you can simply put “store name” coupon in Google) before you place the order, there is always surprise out there that could save your money, so why not?
Take advantage of what university has to offer. You can go almost anywhere with public transportation free of charge using your MCard. You will get a $15 eye exam annually and discount on glasses and contact lens with your student insurance. In addition, if you like socializing, our campus has an array of museums, movie nights and social events for cheaper price or even free.
Use a free finance management tool. For example, Mint.com also has its corresponding apps in smartphones, which is really convenient and keeps track of your money automatically. It is much easier to manage your finance when you actually know where your money goes. I found it really useful as it gives you a visual look of your spending and earning, and it also divides your spending into categories, such as shopping, grocery, so that you will not over spend on any certain categories. Most importantly, it is safe, free and automatic.
Share with your friends. It is always a good idea to share with your friends your tips and tricks for shopping, and you might get better suggestions from them in return. At the same time, you can make friends by having shopping as a common interest and make your next shopping trip much more fun.
All of these are just some tips that I use for shopping and financial management in the US. They are not official or authoritative, and sometimes it might not fit for your shopping style. The best way is to figure out your own as you experience through this life journey in the US. If you want to know more specific about shopping in Ann Arbor, don’t forget to join us in the August workshops! Welcome to Michigan and good luck to all of you!
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Transfer Connections Mentor
International Center Summer Orientation Peer Adviser