Eating Healthy on a Student Budget

Eating a healthy, nutritious and diverse diet is key to doing well in school (that, and not slacking off when you are supposed to be studying). There is nothing more detrimental to your brain power than eating junk food all day.

It is therefore incredibly important for students to eat a diet high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, and nuts and seeds. These things will all help you focus more, increase your reaction time, and score better on exams and tests. They’ll give you more energy and help you look better, too!

Eating healthy is often seen as a budget buster, despite it’s benefits, especially for students who are already counting pennies. 

healthy food student budget

This myth has been somewhat dispelled but not completely, and not if you are looking at organic or fair trade foods (those things are very expensive). There are ways to save money on nutrition, so here are a few things you can do:

Use Your Student Discount Card

Do you have a discount card through your college? If so use it! Check to see which grocery stores in your area offer a student discount with the card (or otherwise) and take advantage.

There are far too many people who let these discounts go to waste and you may end up regretting it when you are no longer a student.

Even if you only get 10% off of your groceries, if you spend $300/month on groceries you are saving $360 per year!

Farmers Markets

Farmers markets are usually a great place to take advantage of steeply discounted fruits and vegetables. Avoid the other stalls (breads, etc) as they are usually marked up quite a bit higher than the grocery store, but you can also negotiate the price at farmers markets usually.

If you are looking for organic food be aware that many local farms cannot afford to have the “certified organic” label but ask if they are spray free; often, they will be and you can save some money on them since they aren’t stamped with the organic label.

Buy What is In Season

Food is so expensive when it is not in season. Have you ever tried buying blueberries in the winter? Yeah, they are pricey! That’s because they have to be shipped in from all over the world which adds to the cost (and removes some of the nutritional value).

Buy buying what is in season to eat, it will save you a lot of money and also be far healthier. Who wants to eat food which has been sitting on trucks and boats for weeks on end, with rats and other vermin around them?

Plus, the food that is in season (and usually a little more local) is much tastier, since it ripens on the tree or plant instead of in the grocery store.

 

Don’t forgo healthy eating because of a budget. It’s really important to be healthy so you can excel!

Summer Vacation on a Budget? Go Camping!

If you’re a money-conscious college student, you’ve probably been working hard all semester to ensure your grades are good enough. In addition to all the studying, you may even have been working a part-time job while you study, to keep your debt down and earn extra cash.

During your summer break, you probably want (and deserve) a proper vacation without spending too much. So grab your portable BBQs and your tents, and get ready for a great summer getaway on a budget!

save money camping

Grab Your Tent

With no need for hotels, camping is the most affordable accommodation option if you’re travelling away from home. There are campsites all over the place, often offering pitches for just a few dollars a night. Make sure you’ve got everything you need and that your tent is waterproof, otherwise you could be in for a damp night when the dew falls or if you get caught in a storm.

Wild Camping

If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can always pitch away from campsites and out in the country side, but be aware that there’s no running water or toilets, and don’t camp on private land unless you’re allowed. Make sure you avoid wildlife habitats, and research wild camping in your chosen area before you leave so you know the specific ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’.

Cook Your Own

A lot of your travel budget might be spent on food in restaurants but if you bring your own camping stove as well, you can eat cheaply in the outdoors. When cooked well, nothing tastes better than a meal you’ve prepared yourself in the open air. It does require preparation time and the right cooking supplies, so make sure you’ve packed your ingredients and tools: stores near campsites know their market and will adjust prices to make the most profit from campers in need.

Go For a Hike

Some of the best fun you’ll have in life are free delights, such as tying up your walking boots and going for a hike. No matter where you’re camping, there’s bound to be excellent hiking trails and it costs nothing to see the scenery and climb those hills.

Play Some Games

If you’re on vacation with a group of friends, prepare some games in advance. Remember the games you played when you were kids: you didn’t need money to have a good time when you were playing hide and go seek or tag! Bring a bat and ball for daytime games, and pens and paper for quieter games around the campfire.

There are many ways you can have a great vacation without spending too much money. With a little preparation, you could have the best summer of your life without tapping into your precious savings. Have a great time: you’ve earned it!

Image by Dave Dugdale, used under the Creative Comms licence.

 

Charlotte Quinn is a recent English Lit graduate, partial to vintage dresses, cocktails and a cheeky bit of travel. When she’s not blogging or reading, she hangs out with her Jack Russell, Bella.

 

How to Budget in College

Have you ever tried to make a monthly budget? It can be very important to achieving your short term and long term goals, especially if they are financial goals such as: getting through college without any debt, saving up money to buy a bicycle, or saving enough money to afford a suit for your upcoming interviews. Budgeting will help you see your total income each month and also will allow you to discover where each of your dollars are going each month as well. It can be a very powerful tool succeed in your upcoming future.

budget in college

Image via https://www.flickr.com/photos/86530412@N02/

Your Income

Even though you are in college, you should still have an income. I believe that every college student should at least have a part time job during the school semesters and then a full time job in the summers when class is not in session. Whether your income is consistent or not, make an income goal each month and write that down on your master piece of paper (or insert it into a website like Mint.com).

Your Expenses

Estimating your income is actually pretty simple when compared to estimating your expenses. We are all creatures of spontaneity and have absolutely no idea what we might buy in the month to come. We might have an urge to buy pizza one night, or maybe a designer handbag that’s on sale another night. However, by setting a budget you are empowering yourself to avoid certain expenses that do not align with your long term goal.

First, write down your expenses that are certain – like tuition every four months, books, food, rent, utilities, car insurance, gasoline, and clothing. For items that do not happen monthly (like the tuition bill), divide the expenses into each month of the year. After writing out your expenses, how do your bills compare to your current income? If they do not align, then you either need to increase your income or reduce your expenses.

Making the Budgets Work

Many people refuse to use a budget. Do you know why? Because they’re hard and people often give up on them before they start having an impact on their lives. If, however, you can stick with a budget long enough, you will realize the tremendous impact that it will have on you.

More than likely, your college expenses will exceed your income and you might think to yourself, “This is stupid. There’s no way I can survive on my income throughout college. I should just take out student loans and be done with this whole budget thing. It just doesn’t work.” This is the coward’s way out.

If you truly want to be a success, you should instead ask yourself, “I wonder how I could increase my income to cover all of these expenses?” This question allows your mind to create and grow new ideas about earning money. Maybe you could wash some cars on Saturday or get another job washing boats by the lake. Use this budget exercise to visually see where your money is going, trim back your expenses, and find ways to increase your income.

Are you ready to get that budget started?

How to Take a Cheap Vacation as a Broke College Student

College can certainly be a fun time. You finally have independence from your parents and can make your own choices every single day. However, being in college also means that you probably don’t have a lot of money. Every extra penny you can scrape up goes toward food, books, and of course, tuition.

cheap vacation

With so little money, what can you possibly do for a vacation? Well, even with just a few hundred bucks, you have quite a few options for going on a cheap vacation. My friend once traveled from the snow in Michigan to the beaches of Florida for an entire week and only spend $300 in total. Yes, it is possible, so let’s explore how you can take a cheap vacation too! After all, everyone needs a vacation once in a while.

1) Travel by Bus

Making your way across the country in a bus is certainly not the fastest way to travel, but it is pretty cost effective. A trip from Chicago, IL to Florida can cost as little as $85. So, if you aren’t necessarily concerned about speed, but would like a way to travel inexpensively without having to drive yourself, this is an awesome option.

2) Travel with Cheap Airfare

You might think of air travel as expensive, but there are many low-cost airlines these days. And, if you evaluate prices of air travel often you will start to notice when ticket prices tend to go on sale. Most of the time, the best time to buy a flight ticket is 2 or 3 weeks before your departure date. Couple this with a weekday departure and return and you could fly for less than a hundred dollars each way. My friend used to find great flight deals for $9 each way. Add taxes and fees and he was still only paying $70 round-trip. Start scoping out the prices and you could fly for cheap too!

3) Make Friends

As you make friends in college, you will meet people from all over the U.S., and perhaps all over the world. When it is time for a vacation, start to talk to one another about where you would like to visit and if any of you have friends or family in that location. Chances are, you could crash at someone’s home for free! Be sure to do the dishes and clean after yourself however.

4) Couch Surf

If you do not have any friends in the areas you would like to visit, then couch surfing is indeed an option. If you have not heard of couch surfing, this is where you line up a stay with another person that has willingly opened their house up to strangers. If you meet their criteria, you are welcome to sleep on their couch for a given period of time. You must be very careful if you choose to travel this way, but it is definitely an option that could be considered, especially since it’s basically free.

5) Don’t Eat Out, Buy Groceries

Even when you’re on vacation, groceries are the cheapest way to go. Many times, you can purchase entire meals for only $0.25, which starts to make fast food look expensive! Make a meal plan, and buy things like bread, peanut butter and jelly, granola bars, and cereal. These items can last you for quite a long time and they are fairly inexpensive as well!

Are you ready to take a cheap vacation? What is the cheapest vacation you have ever taken?