The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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CSUN students learn how to stay frugal on a college budget

Finding ways to be frugal in a fast-paced college environment can be tough. When you’re constantly busy with classes and homework, work and various extracurricular activities, it’s not always easy to find affordable ways to eat, maintain hygiene or make your living space aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

Fortunately, there are three stores nearby campus that can help you save money.

99 Cents Only Store: Groceries

Every student needs food to stay focused throughout the semester, but it’s not always easy to budget when schedules are filled with classes, homework and work. Finding time to scout for affordable groceries can be a challenge, but food options at 99 Cent Only Stores range from lunch meats and pastas, to vegetarian-friendly ingredients – and they’re only 99 cents.

For $25, students can purchase at least a week’s worth of food at this affordable grocery store.


* soy milk/milk

* string cheese

* cheese singles

* cream cheese

* butter

* eggs

* tofu


* bagels

* texas toast (for french toast)

* wheat sandwich bread

* 1/2 lb of rice

* bag of spaghetti

* tortillas

Canned goods:

* black beans

* tomatoes

* peanut butter


* bananas

* apples

* potatoes

* cucumbers

* oranges

* bell peppers

* lettuce

* celery

* carrots


* cookies

Frozen foods:

* bean/cheese burritos

* individual pizzas

Big Lots: Hygiene Products

If you’re looking for ways to save money, it’s not necessary to sacrifice the quality of basic products. Big Lots offers name-brand products at a reasonable price and is an option for those who want an inexpensive alternative.

Basic hygiene products can add up and stretching every dollar is essential these days. CVS and Target may be the stores that come to mind when looking for hygiene essentials, but Big Lots offers some surprisingly affordable products for students.

With a $25 budget, the following 10 items can be purchased:


* Yes To Tomatoes volumizing shampoo $3.50

* Bloom body wash $2

* Secret deodorant with a bonus body spray $2.75


* Suave Professionals Men 2-in-1 shampoo $1.50

* Dove Men+Care body wash $3.30

* Dove Men+Care deodorant $2.50

General hygiene products: 

* Colgate toothpaste 95 cents

* Body sponge $1

* Listerine mouthwash $4

* Oral-B toothbrush $2

Dollar Tree: Home Improvement

Stocking up on home necessities on a college budget can be a daunting task for students living on their own or in dorms, and buying accent decorations may seen particularly frivolous. Bargain hunting can be time consuming and frustrating, but there are some surprising $1 options at Dollar Tree that may be worth a trip if you are trying to spruce up your home. While this doesn’t seem like the first place to shop for important items (and for a lot of things it isn’t) there are some decent quality items. On a $25 budget, you can buy the following 25 items that will help improve your living space.

For the kitchen:

* large white ceramic plate

* large colorful ceramic plate

* coffee mug

* corkscrew/bottle opener

* 20 paper plates

* stainless-steel kitchen shears (cooking scissors)

* two colorful wine glasses

* two coasters (they had a wide selection of different designs)

* kitchen towel

All of the above items are of good quality considering the price, with the exception of the kitchen towel which was very thin and won’t last many cycles in the washing machine. Utensils from here are not the best: the forks and knives were very cheap looking and the metal was questionable.

For the bathroom:

* soup dispenser

* matching toothbrush holder (can hold four brushes)

* three pack of 11″ by 11″ microfiber washcloths

For multipurpose:

* small mirror (about 10 x16)

* lightbulbs (3 for $1)

* pack of plastic hangers (6 for 1$)

* pair of cloth, swivel-head hangers ( get 40 hangers for $20 at the dollar tree or 40 comparable hangers at target for $31.99)

* 8 x 11 picture frame (had a variety of colors to choose from including gold, black, brown and silver)

* two decorative glass candle holders

* two pillar scented candles (Dollar Tree has a whole aisle for candle options including a variety of sizes and scents)

* clear vase

* decorative rocks (to put at bottom of vase)

The small mirror and the frame were two of the worst items on the list of 25, but using them as an accent on a desk or on top of a cabinet may still be a good option. Refrain from buying the fake, tacky flowers that they seem to have an endless supply of to fill your vase. Spending a little bit extra on real flowers from your local farmers market, grocery store or florist will really make a difference in a home.