How to budget your way through college

Olivia Alvord, Staff Writer


There are plenty of opportunities and secrets to make it through college on a budget. Below is a list of resources for everyone to benefit from, it also includes a few common knowledge tips that minimize the number of times that you pay when you eat out. There are a lot of freebies available just for college students.

First, a word of advice, you have to pay for a meal plan—so use it. Do not waste your money going out to eat all the time. Sure, the food from the Caf is not always what you want all the time, but get creative and use those already paid for meals. If you are really not into the food, find a way to spend your flex cash and meal credits to make your own meals in the community kitchens. I recommend Winco as a great place to buy in bulk for cheap, and Costco is worth it if you or a friend has a membership. Grocery Outlet also has great deals for affordable prices, just don’t count on going back for anything you find because most of it won’t be there next time. Many people have tons of flex cash and meal credits left over at the end of the year. Be smart and use your resources because if you don’t, it is just a waste of money.

Next, there are plenty of ways to get free items or reduced prices no matter where you go. That is a perk of being a college student. It never hurts to ask if the restaurant or store has a student discount when you are about to checkout, most businesses are open when advertising about it.

For most fast food restaurants and stores you just have to present them with your student ID at the register. Below is a list of options, but it is by no means exhaustive.

Necessities are by far the most important category. Sign up for Amazon with your school email and receive Amazon Prime free for six months. After the trial is over, prime is only $6.95 per month which turns out to be just $49 a year instead of the regular member fee of $99. In addition, Amazon gives 15 percent off select computers, phones, and cell-phones. Students are also able to get Microsoft Office programs for free when they sign up with their school email addresses. You can do this through the Saint Martin’s website as well. With a valid ID at FedEx, students receive 30 percent off when sending documents, and 20 percent off on most other packages. Apple music is just $4.99 a month for students, and Spotify Premium offers $0.99 for the first three months then moves to $4.99 a month after that period. Spotify Premium members also receive a Hulu and Showtime membership.

Almost as important, is food, which is arguably also a necessity. Dunkin Donuts, McDonald’s, Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Subway, and Burger King give students 10 percent off purchases when you present your student ID. Dairy Queen offers a free blizzard when you download the Dairy Queen app. You can simply download the app for the one free thing, or keep it and get updates every week for sweet deals. They also offer a student discount of 10 percent off with every purchase. Both Chick-fil-a, and Chipotle offer a free drink with every purchase when you provide your student ID.

Groceries are another area of importance, especially if you like to cook. Get the Safeway app and create an account with your phone number for free. Key in your phone number at the checkout with every visit and you will get the member price on most items. Member-only deals happen every day for great prices. They have it all from $5 Fridays, to buy one, get one free days. In addition to awesome deals, for every item you buy, they award you points that add up to rewards when you hit 100 points, such as, ten cents off of up to eight gallons of gas.

Finally, there are lots of great extra deals available to students as well. Most movie theaters take a dollar off of the purchase price of the ticket after 3:00 p.m., this can save you lots of money in the long-run if you go to the theater often. In addition, you can sign up for a rewards card or get the reward app for additional free and discounted movie tickets and snacks. For those who travel often, Amtrak gives a hearty 10 percent off when you book trips ahead of time. This is definitely a great deal if you travel home on train. College is expensive, so enjoy these tips and tricks to get the most out of your experience before your student status expires.


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