Story by Sarah O’Rourke
What is the one thing all college students have in common? We’re dirt poor! But that’s no reason to stay away from your favorite activities that involve spending money. There are many ways to save money that not all college students are aware of, but I feel it is absolutely necessary to know. And for those of you who have your parents buy everything for you, you have plenty to learn for when the day comes that they stop spoiling you.
Clothes: I seriously can’t remember the last time I paid full price for an item of clothing. Whenever I walk into a store, I ignore the displays in the front and walk straight to the back where the clearance section is. The important part to remember about shopping on clearance racks is that you can’t get frustrated. Some clearance racks are terrible and have absolutely nothing, while others are like walking into a real life “Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory” where you want everything. A lot of times I find that clearance racks will have the off-season clothing, so if you are shopping in the spring, you might find some nice winter clothes for cheap. I basically bought my entire summer wardrobe in the fall. Some clearance racks have between 50-70 percent off, so make sure someone is there to check your pulse while you’re shopping. It gets pretty exciting when you find something that is cute (or handsome for you males out there), fits well and is really cheap.
Another thing to remember about shopping is that a ton of stores offer student discounts between 15-20 percent off. Who knew that being a student had these perks? While I am checking out, I’ll usually ask the clerk if they have a student discount. They will probably just ask for a student ID and you’ll get an additional discount, even if the items are on clearance.
Food: If you’re living in an apartment, you probably need to buy your own food, which means spending more money. And if you have a meal plan on campus, you will probably need to buy your own food in the future (we can’t eat at Hubbell forever), so it is important to learn tips about how to save money and keep those tummies full at the same time.
First, I suggest the basic coupon clipping and ad watching. You can find coupons online or in the newspaper, so it is super convenient. Even if you’re only saving a few cents, it adds up in the long run.
Also keep an eye on ads from your favorite grocery stores. If you see a store has a sale on meat for one day only, head to the store that day. Stock up on meat, keep it in the freezer and have a meat fest! Most stores have random sales like that, so definitely take advantage of those.
If you find that most common grocery stores are getting too expensive, there is another option. Try visiting a grocery store like Aldi that has the exact same food products as any other grocery store, but everything is generic. After all, who needs name brand everything? Not us college students.
Household Appliances: When you finally graduate from the dorms and have your own apartment, you will need to get random household appliances to cook for yourself. Pots, pans, dishes and cookie sheets, the list is endless. But who has the money to buy brand new appliances? That is why I absolutely love shopping at garage sales.
Shopping at garage sales is pretty much a full time job over the summer. And yes, they are over the summer. Therefore, you have no excuses for missing them. You will have to make a list of the things you are looking for and look up garage sales online that will probably have these items. Most garage sales that I go to have kitchen appliances listed on the description, so those are a safe bet to go to.
The saying “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure” is so true when it comes to garage sales. I found basically everything that is in my apartment from a garage sale. I got a box of 16 glasses for a dollar, a brand new George Foreman Grill for five dollars, a frying pan for a dime and even a waffle maker for a quarter. Garage sales are clearly a college kid’s best friend.
I know we are all creatures of habit, but I challenge you to try something different and see how much money you can save. Grab a friend, hit the clearance racks, clip coupons and go to garage sales. Keep your hard earned cash in your wallet. You can thank me later.
O’Rourke is a first-year pharmacy major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org