Here’s a shocking fact: college is expensive. Even after you’re done paying for tuition and board, you can still rack up some pretty serious charges. That doesn’t mean you need to resort to living on instant noodles and tap water, though. Here are some tips for students looking to save some cash while living on the Virginia Peninsula.
Be frugal about your food
Late night runs to WaWa and Food Lion can really add up. Save the midnight mac and cheese for an occasional treat. If you have a campus meal plan—use it! Raid your cafeteria for fruit and cookies so you’ve got snacks between meals. If you live off-campus or make your own meals, arm yourself with coupons and a plan before you hit the grocery store. Food blogs are your friends—getting affordable, delicious recipes is easier than ever. When you’re grocery shopping, always make a list. Having a concrete plan keeps you on track so you don’t end up leaving with the entire store (or an unnecessarily large amount of cheese and wine).
Get thrifty at the theater
Instead of spending a ton of money at the theater, borrow movies from your school or local library and stay in for a movie night. Bonus: You won’t get any weird looks if wear your pajamas and shout at the dumb characters in the horror movie. If you’re dying for that big screen experience, make sure to look out for theaters that give out student discounts (like the Movie Tavern in Williamsburg).
Don’t be a cheap date—be a smart date
Wooing your date can get pretty expensive, but you don’t have to choose between breaking your bank and a broken heart. Take a twilight stroll around Colonial Williamsburg for free. Book a romantic (and free) ferry ride over to Surry and pick berries or pumpkins at College Run Farms. Quality romance doesn’t have to come at a huge cost.
Don’t let books break your bank
When it comes to purchasing textbooks, you need a game plan. They’re required, and they’re incredibly expensive. College bookstores can often be pretty expensive (hint: if your school’s bookstore is attached to an overpriced coffee joint, you know you’re in trouble). Plan ahead and compare prices online. Try to rent, especially if it’s a textbook for a class that you’re only taking because it’s required. If you have to go through your bookstore, renting or buying used is cheaper than buying. Lastly, once the craziness of finals has ended, sell those bulky textbooks to clear up space on your desk and get some extra spending cash.
Embracing the cheap life
If you live off-campus, always turn off the lights and the AC before you leave the house. Utilities always add up. Splurge on important items for your house, but for generic products, like clothes hangers or q-tips, there’s no reason you can’t hit up your local dollar store!
Being cheap may get a bad rep, but it’s always better than being broke. Just remember, if you save up now, you’ll have more money to spend on the stuff that really matters to you!