College students don’t have to live like they are poor

Taylor Leckie

It costs a lot of money to go to college in order to make some money one day.

You might remember some lectures about spending and saving from your parents. But now, you’re in college and out in the world, and you’re learning about life by actually living it. During these times, when money is likely tight, doing little things to save can make a big difference.

Going out to eat really is expensive and the cost adds up fast. Think about it. When you go out to eat, you end up having to pay restaurant prices — those include the cost of the food, plus the cost of preparing it. On top of that, you’re obliged to leave a tip.

Instead, try making a grocery list of food items that go together but still have enough variety so you aren’t bored with what is in your fridge by the end of the week.

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Vary the way you spice and marinate foods to keep your diet interesting without spending too much.
Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

For example, buy chicken and different kinds of sauces, pastas and produce to mix and match throughout the week. Marinating the chicken in different flavors is another way to have variety without buying a bunch of different things.

You don’t have to be a nutrition major to learn how to prepare inexpensive, healthy meals; there are all sorts of free recipes online. Check out food.com or allrecipes.com to get started.

Being a college student and all, one of my major expenses used to be coffee. Just because the coffee is expensive doesn’t mean it’s unique or better. Most coffee places have the same flavored syrups and iced beverages as the expensive, popular coffee places, but for a lot cheaper.

Instead of spending upwards of five dollars on a medium pumpkin spice latte, you could get the same thing for less than three dollars somewhere else. Don’t sucumb to the marketing.

You can also make these beverages at home for a fraction of the cost. All they are made of is coffee, syrup, and cream. I’m sure you know where to buy the coffee and cream, and the syrups are available at many places, such as World Market. It’s as easy as making the coffee and adding your preferred amount of cream and flavored syrup. Then you’re good to take on the day with your homemade caffeine fix.

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Something you might not’ve heard from your parents’ financial lectures is how to use your phone to make you a more savvy spender. Since I’ve been using a monthly budget app on my phone, I’ve cut my spending in half.

The icon on the phone’s screen reminds you of how much you’ve spent so far as it compares it to your set limit. It can even break down the expenditures into categories and display them in a graph for you to see where exactly all your money goes.

UNF also provides free things like food and movies and whatnot that could help to stretch your tight budget. Attending Market Days down by the Student Union every Wednesday for example might score you some free t-shirts or cupcakes. UNF’s website has a list of events that might provide free food or entertainment.

If there is something out there that you simply must have, do a bit of research before buying.  You don’t have to contribute to the $4.2 trillion dollars spent on impulse buying, according to the Department of Commerce. Determine if the product you are about to purchase is something you really need. Even if you don’t need it, but really do want it, you should still investigate. A little time invested now could save you future regret.

Being a “poor college student” doesn’t mean you have to miss out on life’s little luxuries. It just means that you have to be smart about how you partake in such activities. With some research, discipline and determination, you might just discover there is a lot more out there for less.

Check into cost saving websites such as Groupon and LivingSocial.