By Daniela Garcia
Web Content Contributor
*KTSW consists of and respects varying opinions within its staff. Opinion articles do not reflect the opinion of KTSW as a whole.
The influx of new bobcats spotted around campus lately lead me to believe it’s time to share what I know about saving money and stretching that dollar as modestly possible.
Now, I’m no expert in financial circumstances but I’ve learned a thing or two about how costly it can be to attend a university such as our very own Texas State. Aside from tuition, room & board, meal plans, text books, school supplies and other essentials, one cannot blame students wanting to deviate from the routine and visit a local shop for some trendy items. Sometimes, you simply want to go out and have a nice dinner or grab a couple of drinks with some friends. Understandably so, some of those times you’ll find yourself stuck on whether or not go go for the guac. Here’s what I think:
Go for the guac. Ask yourself these questions: Do I like the environment here? Will I eat here? Do they have good food? If so, then yes get the guac because odds are if you like the environment and you like the food, you’ll regret not getting the guac when you sit down to eat your guac-less burrito
Buy yourself some groceries.When it comes to splurging at restaurants, one must understand there is a bank account floating around somewhere titled to your name and if it doesn’t have any commas you probably shouldn’t be eating out everyday.
Compare the ingredients when you shop for your groceries because chances are there will be an exact copy of the item you desperately want that is slightly more economical. Sometimes, it will even taste better or function better than the leading name brand.
Eat before you shop. But don’t shop on a full stomach. If you eat before you shop, you won’t end up shopping for those three bag of chips you know you won’t finish all by yourself even in just one Netflix-binge sitting. However, don’t make the mistake of going on a full stomach either because then you will barely want to reach for that sea salt you actually do need for when you cook at home.
Use coupons. I wouldn’t like to play favorites when it comes to grocery stores as they prove themselves convenient at one point in my life but stores like H-E-B will offer coupons at every aisle that can save you a lot of money in the long-run. Do not however, fall victim to the items you most likely would not have bought if that coupon wasn’t there to catch your attention. Be sure to check your mail for coupons. If you think you’ll use the coupon/s, hang them up on your fridge or have them in your wallet next to the card or cash that you will use when you’re out shopping for groceries.
Try out some cash-back apps on your smartphone. I personally like to use Ibotta. It’s a little app that will help you save money slowly but surely and it’s free.
Ask if they provide a student discount. You’d be surprised where places offer student discounts around town. Maybe your favorite restaurant or shopping store at the Outlet mall will knock off $2 off that rad cap or cute skirt you’re itching to have.
Turn off the lights. We tend to disregard the little things that can affect us all in a big way. Turning off your lights when leaving the room or house can end up saving you more money at the end of the month that won’t go to your shared electricity bill but instead, to that extra large pizza from Gumby’s.
Go to Gumby’s Pizza on Thursdays. Are you thinking of having several friends over for some card games or a Harry Potter marathon? Gumby’s offers a massive cheese pizza for only $10.99 every Thursday!
Thirsty Thursdays. This isn’t an encouragement to go out and well you know, wound up having a splitting headache the next day but if you are feeling somewhat left out in the weekends due to lack of money for drinks, try planning for a Thursday night out. Most bars will offer discounts on drinks that would normally be twice as much.
Visit an apartment locator. From what I’ve experienced, most apartment locators provide a free locating service if you’re looking to move. This will save you a lot of time and a lot of money. Sometimes, if you end up signing for a place the locator helped you find, they will send you a gift card for helping them as well. Awesome!
Find out when movie theaters hold all-day specials so you can watch that movie you’ve been avoiding the spoilers to on facebook all week. Evo in Kyle offers $5 movie tickets all day on Tuesdays.
Keep track of your transactions. As painful as it sounds, it is very important you don’t go over your budget because then you’ll have to end up paying who knows how many $35 fees for every time money tries to be pulled from your account for the bills you set up for automatic payments, you know, the important stuff.
Use the wifi! Whether you still find yourself under your parent/guardian’s data plan for your phone, be sure to switch from your network provider to available wifi so you can happily scroll through Instagram without letting that data increase.
Invest in a Water Filter Pitcher. When you get accustomed to grabbing a cold water bottle on the go, you tend to fail to realize how much money you’ve spent on just water. Not only this, but how many of those times have you left an unfinished water bottle laying around only to have a new one in your hand that will probably end up in another dark corner of your car? If you invest in a water filter, you’ll finally be able to use that set of glasses your mom invested in that aren’t going to waste after all. Most importantly, you wound up not contributing to destroying the planet any further than we collectively have. Give yourself a pat on the back! Now you actually get to use that fancy glass sports water bottle you purchased six months ago.
Open a savings account. It’s not as simple as sounds finding a bank that suits your needs but it’s doable. Ask questions when opening up a savings account. For example: How much money do I need to deposit to open my account? How much do I need to have by the end of the month or do I even need to have a certain amount by then? If so, what is the fee if I don’t reach that amount? When you’ve figured that bit out, don’t forget to put a little bit aside for emergencies. You never know when you’ll need to get your car back from that tow place that took your car from that obscure parking spot.
Think before you spend. This one’s pretty obvious. But trust me, it gets hard to reject that complete hardback cover series at Half Price when it’s there. Sometimes, I tell myself that I need to relax and focus on my short-term goals. How ill completing my short-term goals affect my long-term ones? Is a temporary happiness worth the prospective permanent one? Also, remember that as broke as you may be, if you’re reading this blog, odds are you are more fortunate than someone out on the streets. Anything counts for them and who knows, maybe you’ll be rewarded for it somehow, like a smile.
“Save one-third, live on one-third, and give away one-third”