Surviving the Crunch of College

by Geoff Walbroehl


Hello money savers! I was just writing a quick response to a note I happened to read in a recent issue of The Dollar Stretcher. The question came from a girl in Iowa named Rebecca who was looking for some ways to save money while in (and possibly after) college. I remember compiling a list for a friend of mine; I revamped it some and divided it into sections. I hope this helps!

1. Food

This can be expensive, especially if you've seen some of the prices on-campus eating places charge. I would recommend buying a 2-liter of soda and maybe saving some cups. That way you can cut down having to buy drinks from the cafeteria.

Also, buying whatever the cafe counts as a "special" is usually a pretty good deal for the money. It's being advertised by them in the first place because they have a surplus of it or have to get rid of it. Ironically, more healthy foods on campus (so much for the eating habits of America) like fresh fruit, rolls, etc. are occasionally less expensive then french fries and the like.

Finally, a hot pot or small refrigerator, (small used fridges usually go on sale around the beginning and end of a semester) although initially an investment can be used to cook and store cheaper food from off-campus. You can buy a good hot pot for around $15.00 at Wal-Mart.

2. Books and Other Supplies

If possible you may want to think about "borrowing" silverware, cups, a plate or two (no more then this, though) from a nearby cafeteria. Just make sure you return them by the end of the year. Check to see if any books you need for a class are available at the school library for free. If you know exactly what books are being used for upcoming classes, you can check for those, as well.

Pencils and pens are always on sale at Wal-Mart and close-out stores (ours is called "Odd Lots".) You can buy enough supplies to last a few years there at a good price. Laundry soap, too. Sometimes the campus rec center has soap, etc in their locker rooms. You can extend the life of your bathroom supplies by having an occasional shower there.

Good Will / Salvation Army (Good Will where we are is the least expensive) carries some pretty cool clothes pretty cheap.

3. Utilities

Have your parents (or whomever) call you, instead of calling them. E-mail if you can. Many Universities have several computer labs, and e-mail is an invaluable free service. Living with a roommate may be less expensive as well. Although it's always nice to meet new people, try to room with someone you know, as it will be easier to tell them (for example) to please turn the music down then a total stranger.

4. Entertainment

Ah, the best part of college! Parties can be fun, but weekly alcohol (and cigarette) purchases really add up. Quitting smoking and reducing or eliminating drinking can free up money for anyone, anywhere. Plus it's more healthy.

Using free on-campus programs (such as sports or the rec center) can be a good way to spend Friday night. I myself enjoy exercising at the rec center (for free since I am a full-time student) on occasion. Take advantage of the "general fee"! Also, for about a dollar, tea or coffee at a coffee shop is a great relaxer. The local parks and museums are usually free and, if close enough (or if you know someone who has a car), are fun, too.

I hope that these hints help. You can just say to yourself : "Soon, I will be graduated, and none of this will matter anymore."

Take care!,
* Geoff


Geoff Walbroehl is a resident of Bowling Green, Ohio. He graduated with a B.A. in Sociology, and enjoys pursuing both simplicity and thriftiness. He realized during his years how little one truly needs to survive (mainly through his friends, who went through some tough times.) Thanks!

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