With tuition increasing, it’s important for students to take responsibility for what little spending money they have. Although some students feel they are too broke to go out anywhere, they should to recognize the biggest drains on funds and ways to live frugally. Here is a guide to living on only $10 per day, not including rent and tuition. See which tips you can follow.
1. Determine what you’re spending a lot of money on.
You can use services like mint.com, a free personal finance software, to determine what percentage of your funds goes where. You may be surprised. Once you determine where your money is going, see if you can cut back on some of your more expensive habits.
“I only buy what I need, and preferably when it’s on sale,” said sophomore Alexander Koontz, 20, deaf studies major.
2. Make your own meals.
Restaurants considered inexpensive can charge $12 per meal and $3.50 for a drink. Add tax and tip, and multiply by three meals per day, 365 days per year. Of course you’re not necessarily going to spend exactly that much at every meal, and sometimes you will be spending more or less. That would be $20,637 per year—that’s more than tuition! The food you would make yourself varies, but a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, for instance, can cost less than $1 to make. It’s even cheaper than fast food.
3. Don’t commute.
Even if you have to move out of your parents’ rent-free house, moving closer to campus will save you money, ultimately. According to commutesolutions.org, driving to school can cost up to $9,000 per year—that’s more than it costs to live in the residence halls.
4. Movie theaters aren’t cheap—find entertainment that is.
Going to the movie theater was once considered inexpensive entertainment. Movie tickets now cost up to $12, or almost $20 for 3-D films. If you want to see a film, rent one from a Red Box (there’s one at Vons) for only $1, or borrow one from a friend’s DVD collection. There are also a lot of free films you can find at CSUN, including the people handing out screening passes in front of the Matador book store and the cinematheque films (movies.csun.edu). The community center, which is open 24/7, offers DVD rentals.
5. Water should be free.
There are many filtered water stations around campus, and even unfiltered tap water is potable. To spend $1.50 on a bottle of water makes as much sense as buying bottles of air.
6. Take advantage of free resources on campus.
If you need tutoring, counseling, career advice, entertainment, computer equipment rentals, printing or to borrow books and magazines, CSUN’s various departments offer all of those for free.
7. Shop at thrift and discount stores first.
The 99¢ Only store has most of your needs, from eggs and tomatoes to toilet paper. Thrift stores are also fun and full of cheap finds.
A general rule of thumb is that you should try to be conscious of where your money goes.
“It sounds clichéd, but I watch my spending,” said freshman Claire Plauzoles, 18, business major. “When I’m going to buy something, I ask myself if I really need it or not.”
Over the course of a day, you could get your morning coffee and doughnut ($8) drive 25 miles to school ($13, depending on your mileage), eat lunch at subway ($5 plus a drink, $7.50) and dinner at Applebee’s (around $19), then purchase a book (around $20), and see a film ($11.50 at Pacific Theaters.) That’s $79.
Alternatively, you could buy a small box of donuts at the 99¢ Only store ($1), ride your bike to school if you live close enough ($0), eat your peanut butter and jelly packed lunch ($1) and an orange from the orange grove ($0) and make a microwavable meal for dinner ($5), check out a book from the library ($0), and see one of the films at the community center ($0.) That’s only $7.
If you’re concerned at all about the rising price of college tuition, it’s important to remember to be responsible with our money. Try to use these tips, and use the leftover money for your tuition and textbooks.