Eating Healthy on a Budget

Healthy food can be expensive, especially as a college student on a budget. It can be so tempting to drive through your favorite fast food place when you’re tired or need something quick. But I promise, there are plenty of tips and tricks to eat healthy while also being smart with your money! Here are some money saving ways to trade in that Big Mac for some nutrient-packed goodness.

Plan Out Your Meals Ahead of Time

Take an hour each week to plan all your meals, and make a grocery list based on that. This way, you only get exactly what you need instead of items you won’t use and waste money!

And stick to this plan when you get to the grocery store: don’t give in to an impulse buy or random junk food.

Cook Larger Meals

When you cook larger portions, you can save the leftovers. Invest in some plastic containers and keep your leftover food for lunches or dinners on days when you’re in a hurry. This will replace those frantic stops at a drive-thru!

Buy in Bulk

Many grocery stores are adding bulk food sections, where you can get large quantities of certain items at cheap prices.

Food like grains, rice, oats, nuts, and snack mixes are healthy options that can be used in many recipes and last a long time when stored in airtight containers!

Take Advantage of Frozen Produce

Fresh fruits and veggies are optimal, but can sometimes be expensive when it’s not in season. Canned produce is full of preservatives and often has less nutritional value.

When produce is out of season or more expensive, go check the frozen section! Frozen fruits and veggies can be used year-round, steamed with your meals, or thrown into a delicious smoothie.

Get Creative with Your Protein

Replacing meats with other proteins a couple times a week can save you money. Try opting for other healthy protein sources like eggs, beans, nuts, quinoa, or tofu a couple times a week.

When you do buy meat, aim for healthier types like turkey, fish, and chicken instead of red meat and cured items. Red meats and cured foods (like bacon and sausage) have more bad fats and preservatives than poultry, so try replacing these types of meat in your meals.

Switch to Whole Grains

They are full of fiber and help your digestive system! If you eat foods with white flour, switch to ones with whole grain: good places to start are bread and crackers. Opt for brown rice instead of white rice. These are easy switches to make that won’t change your grocery bill at all!

These are just a few tips to get started on your new healthy lifestyle, while not breaking the bank! There are many ways to save money and eat foods that are good for you and will build healthy habits through your college years!

Discounts With Your Student I.D.

College life has its ups and downs, but one major perk is all the discounts you can get with that small piece of plastic: your student ID! There are hundreds of places that offer discounts or freebies by verifying your student status. We have found 28 websites and stores that can help you save money!


Student Discounts at Retail Stores

  • Amazon: With your student email, you can get a 6 month free trial of prime, then pay 50% less than the full prime price after the trial ends.
  • Sam’s Club: Discounted membership and a $15 giftcard when you sign up.
  • J.Crew: Your student I.D. can get you 15% off full priced items online or in store.
  • Banana Republic: 15% off your full priced purchase when you show your ID in store.
  • Madewell: 15% off when you show your student I.D.
  • Kate Spade: 15% off your purchase when you sign up through UNiDAYS.
  • Levi’s: 15% off your purchase when you sign up through UNiDAYS.
  • Nike: 10% off online when you verify that you’re a student.

Student Discounts on Electronics

  • Apple: Apple offers “education pricing” for all students, even if you have just been accepted to a college. This discount can be up to 15% off Apple products.
  • Norton: Students can get 50% off protection software for your computer.
  • HP: Students can get up to 55% off select products and free shipping if you sign up through UNiDAYS.
  • Lenovo: Select your school and get up to 25% off certain brands, plus free shipping.
  • Sony: Up to 10% off products for students.
  • Adobe: Students can get up to 60% off “Creative Cloud” design software.

Student Discounts for Entertainment

  • AMC Theatres: They offer discounted student tickets on select nights when you show your I.D.
  • Spotify: With your student email address, get Spotify Premium for $5 a month (also includes Hulu and SHOWTIME).
  • Cinemark: At select Ciemark theatres, show your student ID to get discounted tickets.
  • Regal Cinemas: Certain locations offer student discounts when you show your ID. Check the list here to see if your location offers this discount.
  • Many museums or art galleries offer student discounts. Check out your local museums to see if they have any discounts for students!

Student Discounts on Food

  • These fast food restaurants offer 10% off meals at participating store locations when you show your student I.D:
    • Arby’s
    • Dairy Queen
    • Dunkin’ Donuts
    • Firehouse Subs
    • McDonald’s
  • Buffalo Wild Wings: If the university you attend is on this list, you can get a free appetizer with any $5 purchase.
  • Chick-Fil-A: You can get a free drink when you show student ID.
  • Wingstop: They run a promotional where you can get 15% off all combos Monday-Friday from 2-6pm with your student I.D.
  • Hello Fresh: 15% off every box plus free shipping when you sign up with UNiDAYS.

There are so many more student discounts out there to take advantage of! Another tip is to check out UNiDAYS, an app exclusively for college students that has TONS of discounts for restaurants, clothing stores, electronics, and more! Comment and tell us about other student discounts you’ve found!

Creating Your Own Budget

If you are starting college or moving away from home, one major change is that you have to be responsible for your money. It’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new place and lose track of your spending habits! Whether you have recently left home or been on your own for a while, it is never too late to start budgeting. We want to show you how budgeting can be easy and effortless! Creating a budget and keeping track of it may take some groundwork at first, but it is all about building good habits. Here are some tips for how to lay that groundwork and get your budget started!

Discuss your budget and expenses with anyone involved, such as your parents or guardians. If anyone is giving you money each month or semester, you want to communicate with them your needs and set a solid game plan. This is also a good time to figure out the expectations: do they want you to get a job to earn some income, apply for loans for tuition, or put a certain percentage into savings? Establishing the expectations on both ends will lead to a smoother transition and all of you will feel more confident and comfortable!

List all of your income. This is great to do with your family, if they are providing you with monthly income. Take into account all ways you may be getting money: allowance from family, part-time jobs, side gigs, financial aid, savings, and any other place you have income coming from to help you live during college.

Now, list your expenses. Another topic of discussion is how the expenses will be paid for. This is an important step in communicating with family because you can figure out what money is being used for each expense. If you are unsure what all of your expenses are, track them for a month or two and start categorizing them so you can see how much you’re spending on each per month. Some common expenses for college students are:

  • School related: tuition, textbooks, school supplies
  • Living: rent, utilities, internet, insurance, cell phone, basic home and health supplies
  • Food: eating out and groceries
  • Transportation: car expenses, gas, bus system
  • Entertainment and clothing

Make sure your expenses aren’t more than your income! Add up all your monthly income and monthly expenses, and see what the difference is. You’re aiming for either breaking even or having some money left over. If your expenses are more than what money is coming in every, you need to start budgeting and cutting back! An easy way to start this is by monitoring your spending by checking your bank accounts, credit card statements, or apps like LearnVest or Mint. Apps like this are linked to your bank accounts and automatically put purchases in various folders so you can see exactly how much you’re spending on each category. (See the end of the post for a list of great apps for budgeting!) This can help you figure out areas you can cut back on, such as eating out less per month or finding cheaper solutions to your groceries and supplies.

It’s never too early to think about the future! If you are able, it’s always a good idea to start putting money into your savings. This can be an emergency fund, a travel fund, or saving for your future and a family. Even if it’s small, every little bit helps!

Now that you have clear expectations and goals for where your money needs to go, your foundation is set! Building good spending habits and remembering to keep track of when you’re swiping that card are important for maintaining your budget going forward. Here are a few great apps to help with this and keep you accountable, since it is sometimes hard to keep track of it all!

5 Great Budgeting Apps for College Students

  1. LearnVest: This app links to your bank account and categorizes your purchases into various folders like Groceries, Entertainment, Living, or ones you create yourself.
  2. Mint: This app also connects to your bank account automatically updates your spending and allows you to create whatever budgets you want. It also makes sure that you never charge more than what you have on a credit card.
  3. Pocket Budget: This app shows your main budget in a pie chart and also lists your transactions. It is very straightforward and let’s you easily see what percentage of your money is going to each category of expenses.
  4. You Need a Budget: This app does all the work for you! It is based off of your personal income and “assigns” your money to specific categories, like rent, groceries, entertainment, and savings. It doesn’t leave any dollar unaccounted for, so you can make sure you’re being as effective as possible.  
  5. Wally: This app helps you track your income and expenses and shows your remaining budget so you don’t overspend.

What are the benefits of getting used textbooks?

Used textbooks are a great choice for students looking to save money on their path to graduation and finding a great job! Here are a few reasons why used textbooks are so great:cash-coins-money-259165

Cheaper option: Used books are almost always cheaper than new books! Aside from regular wear and tear from being used by other students, there are no content differences between a new book and a used book.

More books in the market: There are way more used books in the textbook market than new books, which makes finding a great deal on the book you need easier, faster, and cheaper.

Can help save time with studying: A pre-highlighted word here and a pre-underlined word there might just make the important information stand out easier!

Won’t affect your buyback price: If you plan on selling your book at the end of the semester, you might as well purchase a used book. Normally, bookstores will buy books at the same price, even if you bought it new. The only time the price may change is if there’s minor damage on the book and the bookstore isn’t willing to pay the full price.

Lower Negative Environmental Impact: Everyone loves the smell of new books; the paper, the ink – and maybe even the glue…but it’s no doubt that mass production of books and paper products require a lot of lost trees. When you purchase a used book, it’s just like reducing, reusing, and recycling!

Which is better: renting my college textbooks or buying them?

While searching for your textbooks, you may be wondering whether you should rent or buy your textbooks. The short answer is it depends on the book! Here are a few tips to help decided if you want to rent or buy your textbook:

Renting:adult-black-and-white-business-889089.jpg

  • Expect to save 50%-90% off the new price of a book.
  • Allows you to pay less money today than buying books.
  • Great for textbooks you’re not sure you’ll want to keep, especially classes outside your major or introductory classes.
  • Reduces stress and risk of selling your book at the end of the semester.

Buying:

  • Great for novels and books that you’ll want to keep, especially books in your field of focus.
  • Able to try to sell the book for cash at the end of the semester.
  • No risk of being charged a fee if the book gets lost or damaged.

Ultimately, the better option depends on your situation. If you are having trouble making a decision on whether to rent or buy, just ask us! We will be more than happy to help you make a good decision that fits your needs!

Check out an earlier blog post to see Four Tips For Getting Cheap Textbooks.