Frugal college student

Lead Madsen was the first in her family to attend and graduate from a four-year university. She graduated from Sonoma State University, magna cum laude, with her bachelors in history and minor in art history. Since then she has been spending her time volunteering in the community and interning. She loves reading, writing, and photography.

As college costs are rising and people are more likely to spend 5-8 years achieving their degree or degrees, expenses can get pretty high. There are a lot of costs of attending a university, some you might never have even thought of, such as food. Yep, remember all those times you heard your parents grumbling about how much food costs? Well once you get to college and have to pay for that yourself you realize that it can really add up. And if you are someone, like me, who didn’t have a lot of money while in school, here are a few tricks that can really stretch those dollars.

1) You Better Shop Around
One great way to save money at the supermarkets is to check out a few stores to get an idea of their prices on items. Lots of stores these days are competing with each other to “out coupon” each other, and you can really use this to your advantage. Start by shopping at a dollar store or discount food store for great deals, and then move to a regular supermarket. It is also a great idea to see if they designate certain days for deals, such as Raley’s $5 Mondays or Safeway’s $5 Fridays. Also, don’t disregard free rewards cards. They may take a while to fill out, but will help you in the long run

2) Oatmeal is a Life Saver
I know not everyone likes oatmeal, I am one of those people who dislike it, but it is a major lifesaver. A container of regular oatmeal is super cheap, good for you, and low in calories (don’t let the freshman 15 take your life. Defend against it). It also cooks quickly, so it is perfect for those days when it feels like you barely have a minute to breathe, let alone cook a meal. The regular oatmeal can be bland, but there are plenty of ways to really spice up the flavor (the internet is loaded with tips).

3) Go Veggie for a While
Meat can be expensive, and if you don’t have the money to be buying it, go vegetarian for a bit. Now I’m not saying to completely stop eating meat, but having a more vegetarian based diet can help save money. Switch to eating any kind of legume, like beans and lentils, as they will fill your protein quota and you can buy good-sized bags at most stores for about $2-3.

4) Just a Drink Please
For those of us that don’t have extra cash on hand, eating out can be hard. I know for me, my friends would want to go out more than my wallet would allow me to. What I ended up doing was eating before going to the restaurant. As I’d already eaten, I would usually just order water or a drink with free refills. This meant that I would only spent about $2. It’s a great way to still be able to spend that quality time with friends without breaking the bank.

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