Tips for broke students trying to stay on budget

Alyssa Lofgren

If your bank statement makes you cringe, it might be time to start thinking about the way you’re spending money. While I’m admittedly more “frugal” than I want to be, I save tons of money all the time just by using resources at hand. Here are a few tips I think every college student should consider.

If you live on your own, you know that groceries can be a hefty chunk of change every month. Although it is possible to thrive solely on beer and top ramen, eventually your jeans and health won’t be so forgiving.

Although the 99 cents store is perhaps not the most glamorous place to shop, I do on a regular basis. The 99 cents store offers tons of name-brand food and household products, all for 99 cents or less. There’s one about half a mile from CSUN, on Reseda Boulevard. Essential items like toilet paper, milk, eggs and bottled water can be purchased there for less than the cost of a daily parking permit. If you’re having a party and need the classic red cups, you can get a whole package for a buck. They also have the sort of things you never thought about when you left home, like tape or a plunger. You definitely don’t want to be caught without the latter.

Your student I.D. card packs a lot of punch for a little piece of plastic. Although the picture on mine resembles a cross between Sasquatch and Amy Grant, I flash it like it’s a V.I.P. pass. You never know what you’re going to save. Museums offer free or drastically reduced admission for students and everyone should know that Chipotle will give you a free drink if you show them your I.D. If you don’t have one, head to University Cash Services in Bayramian Hall and they’ll take your glamour shot and five dollars.

Even if places don’t offer a student discount, sometimes just mentioning your less than rich status will make the cashier flash back to their sleep-deprived college days and hook you up anyways. I got 10 bucks off an oil change last week just because I played my “broke student” cards the right way, and this can work like a charm in several situations.

The University Student Union sells movie tickets for $6 if the movie is 10 days old. Sure, you have to wait a little longer, but the money you’ll save over time can buy you the extra large popcorn guilt free. If you want to be a hard-core tight wad like myself, you can invest in the San Fernando Valley Entertainment Book. This fat little book is bursting at the seams with tear-out, buy-one-get-one-free coupons for hundreds of restaurants in the Valley. It also offers tons of reduced admission coupons to places like amusement parks, movie theaters and sports events. The book costs about $15 and is available online at The cost of the book pays for itself after about two dinners out with a friend.

Lastly, if you want to go shopping, check out places like Nordstrom’s Rack, Marshalls, TJ Maxx and Burlington Coat Factory. While they’re not as high end as the shops on Rodeo Drive, you can find new, brand-name things for a fraction of the original price.

It takes some time to get used to a penny-pinching lifestyle, but after a while your wallet will prove that being money-conscious really does pay off.

E-mail Alyssa Lofgren with your feedback and budget tips at