college budget

My Weekend Getaway: Easy. Fast. Cheap!

This month my roommates and I went on a last-minute overnight trip for the Fourth of July. The best part? I spent less than $50 for the entire thing (hotel, travel, food and fun)! One of my roommates received an email on July 3 from a travel site (think Travelocity, Expedia, etc.) saying that there were still rooms available in select cities for the fourth. We decided on St. Louis since it was only a few hours for us to drive, and we booked a room for just under $100. We stocked up on cheap snack food and we were on our way!road trip

 

As annoying as they can be, emails from these kinds of websites can let you know about great deals or sales they have going on that you wouldn’t know about otherwise. In this case, we were able to celebrate the holiday in a really fun way without spending more than we can afford. I decided to make myself an email account that is strictly for “junk” mail that I give to stores or restaurants when I have to provide one. Although I don’t check it everyday, I do check it at least once or twice a week to see if there’s anything good going on, but this way I can keep my actual email’s inbox clean without missing out on great promotions.

 

Living on my own this summer has taught me the importance of saving my money. Like most college students, I’m always on the lookout for ways I can cut costs, but that doesn’t mean we can’t treat ourselves to a weekend getaway. Whether it’s a weekend excursion to see an away game for your college, or a spring break trip to the beach, we just have to be smart about planning and use the resources available to us! If you are planning a trip that requires a flight, be sure to check out this travel site that offers cheap airfare just for students.

What ideas do you have for affordable weekend trips? We would love to hear!

 

College Budget Shopping

Ever since I went to college my definition of “grocery shopping” has changed a little. I loved going with my mom and dad, of course—sneaking things into the cart, or begging, “but mom, it’s on sale!”

But, now that I’m footing the bill, shopping goes a little differently. I’m frugal and picky. I need to make sure that whatever I’m buying meets a list of highly thought out requirements.

1)     It’s inexpensive (or on sale)

2)     It’s delicious (nutritious is a bonus, but not a requirement)

If an item doesn’t make the cut, it can’t go in the cart. Now, I thought that my college shopping techniques were subtle—There could be a million reasons why 90% of the cart was pasta or carbs. However, despite my attempts to conceal my budgetary grocery needs, clerks at checkout knew instantly that I was a student.

I was surprised at first. I wasn’t wearing my school shirt. I didn’t use my school I.D to pay. How did they know that I was a college student, on a college budget?

Let’s examine my cart:

Case of Soda

Macaroni and Cheese (at least 3 boxes)

Green Grapes

Instant Noodles

Spaghettios

Gallon of Skim Milk

Pasta Sides

Bow Tie Noodles

Chips and Salsa

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised after all.

In between working, taking classes, and trying to enjoy summer, it’s hard to find time to shop and afford the kinds of groceries you really want. Yes, I would love steak, or tons of fresh produce. But, it’s easier and cheaper to buy cheaper and stick to one or ton items from the “fresh” section. Plus, did you know there are about a million ways to prepare bowtie pasta?

Although I’m embarrassed that the guy at the check out called me out on my Chef Boyardee raviolis and ramen noodles, it doesn’t change what I like to eat and shop for. Sure it’s not the healthiest or the most balanced—but those things can be altered. Ingredients can be added, side dishes can be prepared. However, grocery budgets don’t just appear. While you’re in college do the best to eat balanced meals, but also remember that you’re only young once. I’m pretty sure I can only get away with buying spaghettios for so much longer—I might as well take advantage of it while I can.