Making the Cut: Groceries on the College Budget

It is just a fact of life, we need food to survive.  With a busy schedule of classes, studying, writing papers, or whatever your plate holds, it can be easy to grab some fast food and go. Consider making some cuts to your eating habits daily. Here are some ideas on how to bank some bucks.

  • Trying to eat on 12 cents? Two words: Ramen® Noodles.
  • If you live on campus and pay for a meal plan, then use it. Some programs don’t restrict you from taking food to go or eating as many meals as you wish.
  • If you’re like many college students ducking into the corner coffeehouse every morning for your daily cup of Joe, then you are wasting money. An average latte, cappuccino, or mocha costs about $3.50 depending on the size you need. Seven days of that routine costs you $17.50 per week, $70 per month and around $280 per semester. That’s over $500 a year! Make your own. By the time you graduate from a four-year degree, you’ve saved over $2000 in coffee costs. Even if you buy numberswiki.com a decent coffee maker or small espresso/cappuccino machine for your dorm room or apartment, you’ll still save hundreds of dollars.
  • Oatmeal is fast, filling and affordable.
  • Peanut Butter Rocks.
  • Skip the fast food forays and late night take-out. Make sure you keep healthy, affordable options in your room or apartment. Yogurt, cottage cheese, string cheese, bagels, peanut butter are all affordable, convenient and much more healthy than a late night burger and fries.
  • Collect coupons and follow the weekly sales at the grocery store. Avoid high-end markets like Whole Foods. These are nice, but most products cost much more. Once you’re out of school and have a good job you can shop the upscale markets.
  • Kick the bottled water habit; support your local tap water and drink for free. If you’re freaked out by unfiltered water, consider buying a convenient travel-size filtered cup.

Think of the many ways you can cut costs while doing day to day budget checks. What are some of your favorite tips for saving money on food?

 

Source:
“118 Ways to Save Money in College” College Scholarships. 04 Dec 2013 <http://www.collegescholarships.org/student-living/save-money.htm>.

4 Ways to Save Money in College

Turn your pennies into dollars without touching a single package of Ramen Noodles®.

Make a budget and stick to it

Determine what you need to cover the necessities – rent, education expenses, loans, etc.  Create a budget.  Even a simple budget can help you avoid overspending on a night out when you needed money for a new textbook.

Consider cheap text book options

Did you know you can rent textbooks? Rent a book for as long as you need it and return it when you are done. Check out sites like BookRenter, TextBooks.com, eCampus and CampusBooks. Selling your used textbooks is a great option too. It never hurts to get a little bit of cash back to put toward your next semester.

Different living options

Sometimes room and board can be more expensive than tuition.  So how can you try and lower the cost if you need a place to stay? If you work as a Resident Advisor (RA) you can get significantly reduced costs on room and board and in some cases RA’s rooms are free. If you’re rarely near your own room, look into dorms with fewer amenities.  Even though staying on campus may be a bit pricey, it is nothing compared to staying off site. Yes, you may have a cheaper rent, but when you add utilities, internet, transportation, etc., it can actually be more expensive.

Use your student ID for discounts… EVERYWHERE

Make the most of your student status; take advantage of your student discounts. Save on electronics, enjoy discounts for clothing/shoes, movies, printer ink, fast food/pizza, gym memberships and even traveling.

If you put all of the money you saved into your savings account and didn’t touch it, how much do you think you could really save in a month or even a year? I challenge you to put that money away and see what you can reward yourself with at the end of a month or even a year.

Next week, “Making the Cut: Groceries on the College Budget.”

 

Source:
“24 Ways to Save Money in College” shmoop. College 101. 04 Dec 2013 <http://www.shmoop.com/college/save-money-in-college.html>.

Student Discounts – yes please!

Helloooo, Mason Nation! Whether this is your first year at George Mason University or your last, we want to make sure everyone is ‘in’ on where to go and how to get the best deals in the area! There’s so much to do, so many restaurants to try – check out the website below for student discounts (some are specifically for GMU students) before you head out!

I just stumbled upon this site, TUN (The University Network) – head to their website HERE and watch the deals scroll in. You’ll find everything from restaurants to gym memberships to salons and more!

If you don’t want to watch the scrolling deals (personally it made me dizzy..), click on the green bar at the top that says “Latest Student Deals Around George Mason University Click Here To See Them All!” to view a map of all the deals. The page will look something like this (just click each bubble to view the deal! Enjoy the savings!):

Decorate your Dorm

I remember the last summer before my freshman year of college like it was yesterday. You’re excited, anxious, nervous and ready to take on the world all at once. One of the biggest curiosities for me was wondering what my dorm room would be like. I mean, this IS the place I’ll be calling ‘home’ for the next year of my life, will it feel like my own place? I looked around online and in magazines for decorating your dorm tips and WOW, I didn’t realize my dorm would have a dangling chandelier, fancy furry carpets and interesting hand painted furniture! Well, when I walked into my dorm a few months later it was slightly different than I imagined…

There were two beds, two dressers, two desks and a closet – all made out of weird orange-ish fake wood. The floor was tile and the walls very bare and white. I felt a bit nervous at first, how was this ‘cold’ room with weird furniture ever going to feel like home? I took a deep breath and thought about the magazine dorms I studied all summer. No, my room won’t have the most interesting one-of-a-kind chandelier, but I could take some ideas from their perfectly designed dorms and apply them to this real-life, not modern studio apartment, dorm scenario.

For Part 1 of this series, I’m going to focus on transforming the sleeping area:

From my experience, simply ‘decorating’ my bed was the quickest way to make the room feel drastically different and home-like.

What to do?

  • Get a comforter with bright colors or bold prints to instantly transform the room
  • Get a thick, heavy comforter and a lightweight blanket/comforter. My dorm temperatures were sometimes very unpredictable so having both options readily available was a life-saver. (Storage tip: Don’t take up valuable storage space by trying to keep the extra comforter in a bin somewhere, keep it folded at the end of your bed!)
  • Get fun pillows! Adding one or two accent pillows made my bed feel more sophisticated, anyone else feel fancy with theirs?
  • Find an interesting bedside table lamp. Every dorm is different, but my bedside table is what separated the two beds and didn’t come with a lamp – score! See below for a do it yourself idea to transform a thrift store find.

 

Where to find deals:

  • Target – has a back to college section on their website, check out the on-sale items HERE.
  • HomeGoods – I wish I knew about Home Goods when I was in college, but I somehow missed the memo. HomeGoods has pretty much everything for your decorating needs and most important – always at discount prices! Find your nearest location HERE.
  • Fab.com or download the App on your smartphone – I have the Fab app on my phone – everything is offered at discounted prices and is my go-to for decorating ideas. I’ve used it so far to get pillows, rugs, dishwashing tools, coasters, shoes…half of my apartment…check it out online HERE.
  • Bed, Bath & Beyond – Every year Bed, Bath & Beyond has tons of ideas for college, check out their deals HERE. Also be on the lookout for coupons in the mail, I’ve received a few 20% off and $5 off coupons!
  • Thrift Store – We all know about the great prices at thrift stores, but what would you get to decorate your dorm with? Be creative! My friend found a white, older looking lamp at a thrift store and here’s what she turned it into:

 

Now she has a fun, bright colored, modern owl lamp! She simply spray painted the owl with the blue color, bought a new lamp shade and voila! Awesome owl lamp.

 

If you have any tips for decorating a dorm, let me know in the comments!