By Joe Stando
Let’s face it. The economy isn’t in the greatest shape these days. Times are tough on everybody, and as college students, our wallets are lighter than ever. However, there are still a lot of ways to save money every day, in a lot of different places.
Buying groceries is a big opportunity to save. Store brands cost less than name brands but usually taste the same. Most stores have coupons available in the store, from mailing lists, or online. But one of the biggest deals is on fresh fruits and vegetables. Prepared meals and canned food may take less time to cook, but for the same amount you can prepare a large home cooked meal, with leftovers for lunch or a snack later. Cooking your own meals is also generally cheaper than going out to eat.
Speaking of going out to eat, try only ordering water next time you go out. I couldn’t believe how much I saved once I got in the habit of drinking water. Drinks usually run a couple dollars at most restaurants, not to mention places that don’t offer free refills. The same goes for appetizers and desserts. Don’t try to stuff yourself and you can cut your check in half.
The name brand rule applies elsewhere too, namely when purchasing toiletries, cleaning supplies, and other household necessities. Another tip to keep in mind is purchasing in bulk. Sure, you may get a weird look from the cashier while buying a 72-pack of toilet paper, but bulk sizes save you plenty on things you use anyway. I’ve had friends who’ve only shopped at bulk stores like GFS or Sam’s Club.
Traveling is another possible score. If you’re driving, you’re paying for gas, and possibly paying the hefty price tag on a university parking pass. Both the university and the city of Kalamazoo offer regular bus service, with schedules available online. Carpooling, biking, and walking (gasp) are also options. Better for you, better for the environment, and most importantly, better for your wallet.
The last area to pick up a few bucks is in your free time. Going to see movies and buying CDs and video games is great, but isn’t always the best decision for your bank account. There are a ton of free opportunities to have fun on campus. Go to a sports game (free with your student ID). Work out at the Rec (no additional cost for WMU students). Join an RSO or go to a free event. Take a walk over to East Campus and check out the view. The possibilities are endless.