Tag Archives: budget

Spilling the Fruit

17 Apr

FruitI often hang out with my neighbor and many time we get on the topic of fresh fruit (he is a nutrition major).  More than once he has tried to explain to me that the food group that most college students miss out on daily is fruit.  I tried to explain to him that fruit is expensive and I don’t really like it.

After he told me that I started to really watch to see how much fruit I did eat.  Turns out I eat alot of fruit flavored candy but not much actual fresh fruit.  I just don’t love it.  Then, I came up with a solution.  I started making smoothies.

It turns out this is a great way to get a serving of fruit, yogurt and milk with minimal effort.  Fresh fruit is the most expensive to buy and I usually steer clear of it – I only really eat apples and every once in a while a green banana or two.  However, I went to a larger grocery store and found a huge frozen fruit section!  You can get all kinds of berries, mangos, pineapple pieces and even some exotic fruits that are frozen and you can literally just dump them into your blender and there you go.  Or in some cases just eat them frozen – I brought frozen raspberries with me to class every morning for like a month….

The other thing is the price of fruit. The frozen stuff isn’t as bad, while it will still run you more than the typical pizza and it is not necessarily a meal, you won’t be missing out on all the nutritional stuff – like vitamins and minerals (or whatever healthy stuff is in there.)

So next time that you are in the store, check out the frozen fruit section and see if there is something that you might be willing to give up and extra Tony’s pizza for but if not then head over to the canned fruits and check out the peaches and pears usually 10/$1 or better!

Cold hands, cold feet, cold ears

12 Nov

There is one things that I feel most college students must have especially for the winter months – GLOVES!

leaves and snow

In between Fall and Winter – Snow and Leaves

It is very nice to have a good warm coat, scarves are stylish and boots are cute and exciting but the best thing in the winter to have is gloves.  They are so cheap and they keep your hands so warm.  I always feel that if your hands are cold then that just makes you feel more and more cold, the colder that your hands get.

Each year I lose my gloves and so I always have to get more.  The best place to get the cheapest knit gloves is Target which is awesome because they sell these gloves for $1 for a pair or sometimes when they have a sale you can buy a 3 or 4 pack for $1.  This is awesome because there are so many opportunities to get more gloves for less.

This morning I was very glad to have some gloves that I could wear because although it is fall and was about 60 degrees last night at like 8:30PM but when I woke up this morning there was snow on the ground.  I am going to be glad to have those gloves when I have to finish raking leaves this week.

Student IDs are Actually Tickets to Fun

4 Nov

So over the weekend, the internet in my apartment was out, which is extremely difficult to post blogs without internet.  However, I did learn some good tips for saving the dinero though.

Every college gives out student ID cards.  That ID can get you a lot of things.  It can get you into exams, school sponsored events and into certain classes.  However, it can do so much more than that as well!

On Thursday night for Halloween, I went to the Rocky Horror Picture Show, which reminded me of how cheap movies and theaters can be with that great student ID.  It is so wonderful to have that great tool.  Luckily I look extremely young for my age, and they just redid all the ID’s at UK so I received a new one and I can use it for 4 more years in order to get into the movies :).  There are some benefits to looking like a 14 year old.

Movies, you can get into movies for $6, which I hardly ever do, since I usually wait to see the movies until it goes into the cheapies and only costs like $1.50, but if you want to see something that is brand new the say it comes out then that is a good way to do so.

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Basketball games, there is always a student section and if you have a student ID then any student ticket will work for you even after you graduate!  Here at UK the tickets are only $5.  Football games are the same you can go for $5.  Most of the other sports that aren’t so nationally popular, you can get into the games, matches, meets etc. for free.

Around Lexington, you can get into events, plays, operas, music concerts, sporting events, and theaters, for very reduced prices or for free.  You can even get discounts on restaurants and food places.  So far I have yet to find a grocery store that gives reduced prices for food, but almost all the different entertainment areas give some sort of student discount.  Check it out in your city!

Free Volleyball

29 Oct

Other than school and work there has to be some other fun things in your life that you do to keep yourself entertained.  I like to play a lot of volleyball and I like to swim.  However, both of these activities can cost a lot of money, of which I do not have a lot of.

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When thinking about the extra things that you want to do I would suggest picking and choosing very carefully, if you find yourself too wrapped up in different activities it can be hard to have fun at any of them and you might find yourself very broke.  To avoid this I like to pick things that I know are either free or cost very little.  The first thing that is nice about being on a college campus is that you should have access to your college’s rec center or gym.  There you should be able to find different activities to do that are already included in your tuition.  At my gym, there is a program that at different parts of the year they have different tournaments for different activities, such as basketball, flag football, soccer and other activities.  Once you get involved in one of those places it is easy to find more people and places with the same interests as you.

I did this and found some friends that both loved volleyball and swimming as well.  I then found churches that had open play and other venues that let you play for free or join leagues for little money.  This summer near me a volleyball center opened up where they have 2 indoor hard courts and 2 indoor sand courts and 4 outdoor sand courts.  It was amazing but then it started taking a huge toll on my wallet.  Each time you played it was $5 and for every league that you joined it was $40.  And then to top it all off, if you wanted to play more after your league game was over then you had to pay $5 more.  It was becoming so expensive!

Finally I took a step back and looked around more, which is when I discovered that there is a park very close by in a college neighborhood that has 2 outdoor hard and sand courts.  That is awesome!  However, the very best part about it was that it was free!

Being in college opens up alot of new opportunities to you as a student but it also helps broaden your old passions.  So instead of paying large amounts of money to play a sport that you love, look around a little bit and start getting involved in small groups that will lead to bigger and cheaper things!

In the end, having options to play at free venues even if it is just a few times a week instead of every night at the place with a cover charge, this will save you money!

Who doesn’t love massive piles of dirty clothes?

27 Oct

laundryBeing in college is very difficult but there are some things are are harder than other.  Besides all the school work, I struggle to keep up with my laundry.  In my old apartment it used to not be such a huge problem because we had a washer and dryer in our apartment.  I could just throw a load in the washer when I left for class and then I could come home and switch it to the dryer.

clothes everywhereAs of right now I have moved to a place that does not have a washer and dryer in it.  Instead it has 3 tiny coin operated machines across the street and they are expensive it costs $2 to wash and $2 to dry plus the machines are so small that I can’t fit an entire load in them.  The first time that I did laundry there I decided that I should only wash my clothes and not dry them.  Big Mistake.  I spent $8 on the washers and then I didn’t dry them so they were soaked, which in turn lead me to have to call my neighbor so that he could help me carry the heavy bag up the three flights of stairs to get back to my apartment.  Then I tried to hang my clothes all over the apartment to get them to dry but after a week there were still a few pairs of jeans that had not dried (I have a large amount of clothes, because I am a shopaholic).  It was a huge mess.

jeansSo, how can you avoid this struggle?  First, plan out when you are going to do your laundry.  I reserve on Saturday or Sunday a month that I can just devote to laundry day.  Then I sort all my clothes, which is very important, into blacks, blues, reds and whites.  I have found that most other colors fit into one of these categories (such as purple goes with blues, pinks and oranges go with reds).  Next I make my way to the laundromat, which there is a very nice one by my place that charges $2 to wash and .25 cents for every 5 minutes of drying time.  I did 7 loads of laundry the last time that I went and it only cost me $11.

clothes on the deskWhen you put your clothes in the dryer do not put more than one load in at a time, if it is a big load then you can even separate it more so that it is in two different dryers.  There is usually not a limit on how many dryers that you can use at once, which is the one nice thing about a laundromat, you can do all your laundry while you are there.  This will save you time and money.  I usually put 25-30 minutes on the dryer (they are massive at the laundromat I go to, look for that feature when you are looking for one) and then if the clothes need more time, I take out which ones are already dry and which ones are still wet and do it by 5-10 minute increments.

more clothes

The less amount of clothes that you have the more money you will save but this will also help:

  • Do not buy detergent at the laundromat – it is very expensive
  • Make sure you bring a large enough bag or basket to put all your clean clothes into (they compact more if you fold them)
  • Bring enough quarters to do all your laundry or if you put money on a card to use in the machines make sure that you put enough on it the first time so that you can keep track of how much you are spending
  • Do not stuff more than one load or half a load into a dryer, this will only end up costing you more since the clothes will not dry and you will just have to keep running the dryer.

Look here on how to make the most of your clothes so that you have to do laundry less often.

How do you save money when you wash your clothes?  Do you wash your clothes?

My savings account

26 Oct

The saddest of my bank account is always my savings account.  I have an interesting way to try to keep my savings account at least with $50 in it at all times.  I have split my account into 3 different ones.  The first one is called a relationship savings in which I can put money in and take it out as much as I please.  This is very nice becuase I can do it online, so when my bank account is getting dangerously low to that $0.00, I can move some money over from this account to my checking account.

Next I have a tax savings account.  My second job is just a side job helping a nice little lady do her yard work and organize her house, she has me as an independent contractor which means that I have to keep track of how much I owe in taxes, she does not take it out of my paycheck.  This is terrible for me, I never remember to take it out of my paycheck either and since I mostly live paycheck to paycheck, I don’t really have any extra to spare to be saving.  Right now I only have $47 in there and it should be much higher.  At the end of the year I will let you know how terrible this is to not keep saving for this.

The last savings account is at times the worst and yet it is probably the best.  It is a savings account that I can only put money into and if I want to take money out of it, I actually have to go to a bank and request that some of the money be moved to another account.  This is terrible for me when, there is something that I want to buy or just to float my checking account for another week until my paycheck comes in.

I am really terrible at keeping the savings accounts up – I am not perfect by any means!  I go over my budget and do not save like I should, but it is a work in progress.

There are some things that i have learned to do.  If there is something that I really want to buy (check out how I shop) and it costs alot of money, I put that money into one of the savings account and decide if it looks better in the account or if the thing that I want to buy is really worth it.  Usually I decide that it is not worth it.

I have read many times, that if you just put a dollar or five dollars in each day, or if every time you get paid you put 20 dollars in your savings account you will eventually have a massive savings account.  However, when mostly every dollar that you make needs to be used to pay bills, tuition, buy books and support some fun for yourself this is extremely difficult to do.  Another thing that I have seen suggested is that if you buy something then take the exact same amount of money that you spend on that item and put it into your savings account.

I really need to work on my saving skills.  Is there anything that you works for you when you are trying to save money, or do you live paycheck to paycheck like I do?

My Shopping Technique

25 Oct

I am what I would consider to be a shopaholic however, I am a very frugal shopaholic.  There are some steps that I take every time I get the shopping craze in order to protect myself from overdrawing my small bank account.

Here is how I do it:

When someone invites me to go to the mall with them, I immediately have to think of an excuse for why I can’t go.  They are usually things like “Oh I’d love to but I am in the middle of a huge project for school”, “the mall? ummmm maybe, can we go at 8:30?” (our mall closes at 9), “I am actually feeling really sick and tired”, “sorry I just laid down to take a nap” or if all else fails do not respond and after the mall closes then text them back – “OMG I’m sorry, my dumb phone must not have gotten this text until now.”

If you do get suckered into going, this is my second step, unless there is something that I NEED, I take all my credit cards out of my wallet and I don’t carry more than $10 bucks on me (if I am that lucky to have that much).  This basically prevents me from buying anything.  If you feel nervous about this, then just start out by leaving them in your car and then after that becomes comfortable leave them at home.

Step three – go shopping with someone that you can help pick clothes out with.  Tell them that you should try on some of the ugliest dresses in the store.  This brings moral down, that means that they will get discouraged that they do not look great in the ugly clothes (because they are ugly) and you can get out of there quickly before you go clean out the shoe rack (that is my weakness!)  If you use this step DO NOT let your friend buy any of those terrible clothes!

Step four – Pretend that you are getting really bored of shopping, because if you have no money or any way to buy anything you will be bored.  Then go do something fun, like go into a costume jewelry store and try on all the crazy stuff that they have in there.  It will make you feel more excited!  Claire’s is my personal favorite for this.

When I actually do go shopping for myself, I usually like to go by myself and I like to go to places like TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, and Gabriel Brothers.  This is where I buy almost all of my clothes.  TJ Maxx is my very favorite store: they have so much name brand stuff for so cheap it is ridiculous!

I go to these places when I am in the mood to browse and to try on clothes.  I usually pick a bunch that will look cute on me but I pick them in the wrong size, either too small or too large that way I don’t really feel the love for them and I can have an easier time putting them back.

If I really do need something, I usually check out amazon and ebay for what I am looking for, especially if it is workout clothes.  Then I can compare prices and I always compare them to the same product sold by the actual brand so that I can see exactly how much I am saving.  Once I have found what I am looking for I wait.  Which is extremely hard for me to do.  I wait for two days.  If I cannot remember what it is that I was going to buy, then I do not buy anything, if it is something that I can remember but I feel “enhhh” about it, I don’t buy it.  I only buy things online if I cannot stop thinking about them for those two days and I really need them.

I probably spend at least 8 or 9 hours a week just browsing clothes and shoes on the internet.  What do you shop for the most when you go shopping?  What kinds of things do you use in order to save your money when you do go shopping?

Is Cable Really Worth It?

24 Oct

When thinking about cable TV, ask yourself, what is it that you most need from your cable TV?  Is it the weekly TV shows?  Is it the movies that you can get on HBO?  Is it the on demand option?  The chance to record and rewind your show as many times as you want?

What if I were to tell you that you can do all that, online for free without cable?  There are so many sharing sites out there that have so many different TV shows, even the most popular ones that you watch all the time, such as The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad and Heart of Dixie.  These shows can easily be found online.

Most of the time, you can go to the channel that produces the TV show and the latest episodes for free online (sometimes they make you wait for a day).  But if you think about it, do you really need to watch your show the second it comes on every week?  Isn’t there something else that you could be doing such as studying for that bio exam?

television

Cable or no Cable?

I will admit that sporting events are a little more tricky to find online in real time at good quality but there are always local radio broadcasts (most radio stations even broadcast over the internet as well) so that is easy to listen to the game.  My suggestion is that you find a friend who is willing to throw away all his/her money on cable TV and suggest a tailgating party at their house 🙂

Same thing goes for Netflix and Hulu Plus.  If you are paying for either one of those services, stop it!  All they do is charge you to watch a limited selection of movies or TV shows each month.  If you have Netflix, each month they charge about $9.  If you stopped using it then you would have enough money to buy 9 packs of chocolate pudding (since they are only a dollar each but there are 4 in a pack – so 36 pudding cups!)  That is just one comparison but think of all the things that you can do with $9, when you can watch TV for free!

My favorite site right now for watching shows and movies that I love is Megashare.info and if that does not suit you, the other one that I use is Project Free TV, which uses plenty of other host sites to find the episodes that you want to see at varying streaming speeds.

If you already use the internet to watch TV what different sites do you use?  Do you have a favorite site?  Or are you a person that says that they can never give up their cable and Netflix?

COFFEE!

23 Oct

coffeeOkay, I love coffee.  I love coffee so much. Coffee is my best friend.  But sometimes coffee is way to expensive.  When I was in high school I used to love Starbucks because it made me feel like one of the “cool kids,” when I was a freshman in college, my dorm was less than 50 feet away from a Starbucks.  Now I work on campus less than 100 feet from a different one!  On campus alone there are 4!

I started spending way to much money at Starbucks just to get a regular coffee without anything special.  I finally reached a breaking point when I ordered a grande white chocolate mocha frappuccino, which somehow cost me over $5.00!!  That was when I said enough is enough.

white castle coffeeI had been given a coffee maker when I graduated high school but never really used it much, well that all changed.  I bought myself a $4 reusable travel mug from Kroger (less than that one cup of sugary, whipped, milk stuff that they should just call a milkshake), and a bag of White Castle Coffee.  If you have never had White Castle Coffee, I would suggest it.  For a 3 pound bag it is right around $5 (about the same price as 1 Starbucks drink!).

If it is the sugar, milk and whipped cream that you crave then you should invest in some of that too.  You can buy cool-whip for $1 a tub and it keeps forever in the freezer.  I really like coffeemate in my coffee so I have some Sugar Free French Vanilla powder, it is about $2.

Now that we have all our ingredients let’s add it up.  Coffee is around $.10 (if a 3lbs bag of coffee is 5 dollars and there are 48 servings in each bag 48 divided by 5 is .10), the coffeemate is around $.10 and then the mug is $4 but the more that you use it the less it costs.

kahlua

If I can make a cup of coffee for less than a quarter, why am I buying Starbucks???!!! Is it because I love their coffee?  No.  Kahlua coffee is by far the best that I have ever tasted, White Castle comes in a close second, then Maxwell House, Folgers, and 8 o’clock.  Is it because it is convenient?  Well sometimes that might be the case but if your coffee maker has a timer on it.  You can get it all ready before you even go to bed and then it can automatically make itself so that once you are ready in the morning so is your coffee.  Do I buy Starbucks because I am forced?  No.  The only reason that I can think of for buying it is that all my friends do it and I still want to be the “cool kid.”  Well that has all changed.  Starbucks will never again steal my money!

Now I challenge you to make your own coffee for a week and do not buy it from anywhere else.  If you feel like you like strong coffee do not put in 3 or 4 scoops of coffee, instead buy a darker roast that will be stronger flavored and you will not have to use as much saving you money.

Although this might not sound appetizingyou some of you my favorite drink that I make myself is Cuban roasted coffee, with 1 packet of sweet ‘n low and some lemon juice with a slice of lemon in it!  What are some of the speciality drinks that you like to make yourself?

How to make wonderful cheap costumes

22 Oct

With Halloween coming up it is important for us college students (and everyone else of course) to start thinking about our Halloween costumes.  We must ask ourselves these questions:  Will I go with something sexy or scary?  What are all my friends going as?  Will I be going to a themed party that I need a certain costume for?  Can I wear the same thing as last year?  How many people will notice if I do?  Will it be freezing out?  And most importantly how can I do this all with the insignificant amount of money that I have?

Smarty-pants and cat

Smarty-Pants and a Cat. Photo by Susan Myers

First, do NOT buy one of those crappy costumes at the Halloween Expresses of the world, the $50 costume is not worth it, not to mention that it is probably (at least for me) half of the amount of money you allow yourself for food each month.  While this might be good if you are trying to lose weight, I have some better ideas.

Cat

My roommates as a cat and a store-bought pirate. Photo by Susan Myers

Second, go to your closet.  Do you have black leggings and anything animal printed?  Instant animal costume.  Last year, I let my roommate borrow my cheeta print leggings, that and a black shirt with a headband with ears on it – ADORABLE CAT!

freshman smarty-pants

As smarty-pants, when I was a freshman in high school.  Photo by Sarah Hay.

For my own costume, I decided to repurpose an idea that I had used once before, this time making it a little more grown up.  I was smarty-pants.  I literally just attached smarties candy to my black leggings and threw on a white shirt with a tie that I borrowed from a neighbor and some plastic glasses that I had.  So clever! I looked so SMART!

80's chick

My Friend Kara, as an 80’s Chick (missing the sweater) and myself as Smarty-pants.

more 80's chicks

Another time as 80’s Chicks

For my friend’s costume, we decided to go with an 80’s girl.  She has crazy curly hair to begin with, so making it massive was easy.  I also have an absurd amount of blue eye shadow that we threw on her.  She wore some purple leggings, with a blue cami and this crazy sweater that I really liked when I got it but I really only break it out for 80’s wear now.  I’m sure that any oversized sweater and colored pants will do.  You can even throw on some of those great leg warmers that are in style right now and bam! – 80’S CHICK!

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Greek Goddesses

For another event, I needed a costume and I decided to go with a greek goddess.  For this one, simply get out that strappy white dress that most people have, throw on some gold eye shadow or something else sparkly and from a craft store you can get gold rope and fake leaves.  I got ours from JoAnn Fabrics.  Throw on some heels or sandals and amazing – GREEK GODDESS.

This one can be altered so that if you have a white dress and put on some black eyeshadow, tie a black ribbon around your waist and wear black shoes – INSTANT GHOST!

Another thing that most girls have in their closet are the cowboy boots.  Simply get those out with the jean skirt that you bought a long time ago but never wear and put it on.  If you do not have a plaid flannel shirt, start looking around a week earlier and find some friend that is wearing one, ask them to borrow it.  (Cowboy hat is optional) – COWGIRL.

These are just a few of the costumes that I have made myself or have helped someone make, overall how much did it cost me?  Probably not more than a few dollars since I already had most of this stuff or I borrowed it from someone else.  That is exactly what you can do as well.

What kind of creative costumes can you guys come up with?

 

 

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