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UNF Spinnaker

Getting more bang for your buck at UNF

Graphic by Rachelle Keller
Click for full size. Graphic by Rachelle Keller

School is expensive.  From tuition and books to food and having fun, the university experience can leave your bank account a bit empty. According to UNF’s website, total college costs for UNF students are about $37,036 after four years. That includes tuition, registration fees, on-campus housing, board, meal plan, books and supplies. That number doesn’t include dining off campus, transportation and leisure.

Here are some suggestions to help you survive and maybe even have fun while at university.

Eat more than just ramen or pizza

Everyone has to eat, there is no way around that. Going out to eat isn’t the best idea if you’re trying to save money; however, there are saving options there as well. If you use Ozzie Bucks, here’s a list of places where you can use them both on and off campus.

OzzieBucks - Off Campus
Graphic by Rachelle Keller

If you are in a tight spot with money, UNF has a food pantry operated by and for students. They’re college kids just like you who understand what it’s like. The volunteers also offer friendly advice on cooking ideas and healthy meal options on a budget. You are allowed to take up to five pounds from the Lend-A-Wing pantry with your Osprey 1Card.

Cooking at home and bringing your own lunch and snacks will save you money. Americans spend $18 a week on dining out for lunch alone, according to a 2013 Visa survey. Comparatively, a study done by the USDA concluded that the total cost for all your meals per week is about $42.60 on a thrifty budget. **

Foods that you make at home are also better for you. According to the USDA, people are consuming more “food away from home” than ever before. Those foods have high levels of elements in our diet that are already elevated, like saturated fat. “Food away from home” also lacks nutrients our bodies need and often lack, such as iron.

When you do go out to eat, bring a coupon app or book, as they can help save a few dollars. Many restaurants in the area such as Al’s Pizza or Brucci’s Pizza run specials like $1 slices of pizza or discounted wings.

Check to see if the restaurant you are interested in offers a discount for students, and remember to bring your Osprey 1Card.  To make things easier, we put together a cheat sheet of places in the area that give discounts to students.

Want a Pinterest-perfect pad?

You can create an awesome room without going broke. One available resource is Craigslist. While not as plentiful as it used to be, craigslist sellers have much to offer, from free or inexpensive furniture, to home decor and almost anything else you can imagine. Check on Facebook for resale groups, and don’t forget about eBay.

Look for local spots as well. Try flea markets, garage sales and scratch and dent shops. Check out the clearance section in Lowe’s and the Home Depot for some really awesome gems that you can’t get online. It’s best to try going in the morning. You can get “oops” paint mixes for an awesome steal too.  Trash and move out days produce some great results around the dorms and housing areas. You might score a free TV, vacuum cleaner or other appliance if you get lucky.

If you put in a little effort by combining these resources, you can improve gently-used items into some pretty awesome things. For example, pick up a second hand couch, clean it up, and throw a cover over it and a few accent pillows.

Give a little paint to a table to breathe new life into it, or take some sandpaper to it after the paint has dried to give a rustic vibe. Find a rad frame with a terrible painting in it and swap it for a mirror.

Make that money

If you really need straight up cash, get a job. That’s not the answer students want to hear, but UNF does have plenty of part-time positions that are open to students. Many local businesses are willing to employ students and work within your school schedule.

For those out there with a more entrepreneurial spirit, maybe try your hand at “Craigslist flipping”: picking up something from Craigslist, a classified ad, or side of the road, then selling it for a profit.

Normally the best time to dive into any of these opportunities is in between school terms, with the rotating flux of the student population leaving and returning.

For creative types and artists, try selling your work at local art walks or online. Better Jacksonville Beach sponsors an art walk that is free for any artist to come sell their crafts.

As for credit cards, just don’t. Yes, you need to build up credit, but wait a bit on this one.  See how incorporating one into your daily life could help you rather than buying a new TV.

Be a Lannister, always pay your debts.

 Graphic by Rachelle Keller
Graphic by Rachelle Keller

Avoid fees when you can, and if you do get some pay them off as soon as possible. Fees can come back to haunt you if you forget about them. You don’t want to get stuck with an unpaid parking fine by graduation time! Make sure to return things on time, be careful where you park and don’t ignore bills when they come up.

Lifestyle and leisure

There are many ways to have fun for cheap. Look up local festivals and shows. Many times these events are free to the public. Usually they take place at the beach or downtown.

The Riverside Arts Market is a rad experience akin to a Farmer’s Market held every Saturday from 10am to 4pm.  There is live entertainment and an expansive assortment of foods and art created by locals.

Artwalk is also a nice afternoon/evening event; there is one in downtown on the first Wednesday of every month. Jax Beach Art Walk, located in Jacksonville Beach, is held on the second Tuesday of each month. The Jacksonville Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) is located downtown and is free to attend for UNF students.

If you enjoy the outdoors or are the sporting type, try the UNF nature trail or Eco Adventure Program, which offers free rentals for camping and water adventure gear.  There are intramural sports, a variety of group fitness classes, the Student Wellness Complex and many different club sports right on campus that you can be a part of.

Beyond sports, there are many clubs on campus that you might have an interest in. Meeting people and making connections can lead to finding out about more things you’d enjoy. Keep an eye on Campus Life’s upcoming events.

If you enjoy gaming, check out the game room in the Student Union. They have everything from pool and ping pong to some rad board games and video games. The game room’s game library is well stocked and is updated frequently. So if you want to try out a new fighting game or FPS, you may be able to try it out in the Game Room first. Just don’t forget that Osprey 1 Card.

Another fun campus organization is Osprey Productions. They host lots of free events on campus like movie nights, pool parties, concerts and festivals.

There’s an app for that

There are apps and websites out there that help you find great deals. Here are a few that we think you should try out.

Instructables is a great project site where you can learn how to make everything from food and crafts to robotics or wooden pallet furniture with step by step instructions. There’s also Make, which tends to be the more tech oriented of the two.

Groupon and Livingsocial are the most well-known deal apps. They offer a variety of specials on things to do, services, food and shopping in the area. They are also great for planning trips or going out with friends and family. Travelzoo is another good app for travel.

Want to empty your closet and make a dollar with the clothes that you don’t want? Poshmark and Threadflip let you list your old clothes on their site for a small fee. ThredUp has an additional perk: send them your things and they handle all the shipping and pricing. These are also great places to shop while trying to keep on a budget.

Etsy and Scoutmob both offer unique and often handmade items by artists. If you are a maker of sorts you can sell your goods on these platforms as well. Etsy has more of a variety to choose from out of the two, while Scoutmob also has some features for exploring a few major cities.

Freecycle is basically just people giving stuff away. OfferUp is better for buying and selling, but lacks job and community features. Oodle and Recycler are the most like Craigslist, in that they’re online classified ad places. GSALR is a garage, yard and estate sale listing site.

Finishing up the app list is the Amazon App Store. The only reason why: the “Free App of the Day” that Amazon offers. Who doesn’t like free things?

You can use the Amazon App Store and get the free apps, even if you’re on an Android phone.

A warning to all those who venture on the internet: be careful. Don’t give out too much personal information, and if you meet someone for a sale, go to a neutral public location with a friend or two.

Books, books and more books

Textbooks can be some of the most costly items you buy for school, so hold off on buying them right away. Talk to your professor about what books they are actually going to use during the course. See if an older edition of the book will work as well.

Consider buying a book with a friend or two then sharing it or making reference copies of sections. Try to buy used books; a local place to try is Chamblin’s Bookmine. Renting books isn’t a bad plan either, just don’t forget to return them.

Need testing supplies? Don’t sweat it. Professors are supposed to supply you with Scantrons, and you can get free green books in the Student Government building on the third floor of the Student Union, 58 East.

Need a pen or pencil? Try going out to Market Day every Wednesday at the Student Union. There are normally different groups out with free promotional swag that you can pick up, as well as some occasional free food.






All graphics by Rachelle Keller

For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story, contact [email protected]

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