MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A University of Minnesota sophomore is living on an extreme budget, and chronicling it online.

David Levitz’s apartment is barebones, like a lot of college students.

“I’ve got a lot of affordable furniture here. This couch was $30,” Levitz said.

He’s pinching pennies, like a lot of college students.

“I got a lot of my kitchenware for free. My microwave and my toaster oven were both free,” he said.

But unlike the rest of them, he’s doing it for profit.

“There are a lot of foreign exchange students in this apartment, so when they leave, they just want to give all their stuff away,” he said.

He’s participating in a bit of an experiment where he tries to rent, borrow or barter his way through the semester.

BookRenter.com picked him to star in a reality TV-style web series.

After seeing the pop culture video blogs, he tapes in the corner of his Spartan bedroom. But it turns out he already had some experience living on an extreme budget.

“I unfortunately lost my summer job through a series of crazy events, and so I’d been living with basically no money,” Levitz said. “They came to me at the perfect time.”

BookRenter.com is paying him $6,800 for the semester, based on the average college student’s expenses. And David gets to keep whatever he doesn’t spend.

“I’m trying my best to just save as much money as possible. I’m going to London next year, so I’m gonna try and save up as much to go there as possible because gonna be mad expensive,” he said.

Colin Barcelloux, founder of BookRenter.com, says his company is part of a new trend in campuses, where renting and sharing sites have moved into the mainstream.

“Since the start of the company, we’ve helped save students $300 million,” Barcelloux said.

In fact, students can save between 50- and 70-percent off retail by renting their books.

“It’s always easy to write a check, but I think it’s more important to really look at the options, get creative, have those conversations with students,” he said. “There’s a lot of ways to save money.”

Levitz saves money by working out at the campus gym for free, riding his bike from place to place and even renting it to other folks for a few bucks through another website. And he gets all of his meals and snacks from the campus food service.

“In terms of just going to coffee shops and getting coffee, that’s covered by my meal plan,” he said. “Anything else, I kind of thrift along.”

David will spend about $4,000 on rent and the food service, plus another $800 on other incidentals.

If all works out according to plan, he’ll pocket the other $2,000.


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