One of the best pieces of advice for college students, especially those on a budget, is never buy anything from campus convenience stores unless it is absolutely necessary. The markup for these convenience store traps is estimated at 65% or more across the nation’s college campuses. Even those who may not have to watch their money closely should avoid shopping at these stores. An item which may be priced for one dollar a package at a local grocery store may cost that same dollar for one at these campus shops.
Almost any store off-campus will be cheaper than those on campus. Remember that price increase is directly related to the proximity of the store to campus. While those just off campus will have lower prices, they will still most likely be higher than those at local grocery stores down the road. Ask other students, research prices online, and visit the local shopping options before deciding the best place to spend money. It might also be a good idea to see if a family member or friend has a warehouse club membership. There are numerous items available at these types of stores which are much less expensive when purchased in bulk.
Scan and Budget
Most grocery store chains have some sort of club which allows members to save money. Many also allow them to opt in for emails for weekly sales as well as load ecoupons onto club cards. Some send out emails each time they post new coupons to be loaded online or printed for in store use. The weekly sales to help members create a budget.
Designing a food and household budget is very important. The budget assists in creating a grocery list each week and determining which coupons and/or sales might be money saving options. Try to stick to the list as much as possible. Spending $20 in a campus convenience shop might buy one or two meals with a drink. At a grocery store that same amount will feed a student for a few days.
It is best to purchase goods in large amounts, if possible. Purchasing 12 rolls of toilet paper instead of 4 saves money in several ways. First it is cheaper per individual item. Second it costs less in transportation to go to the grocery store once as opposed to twice or three times within a week. Food that is purchased this way is convenient as well. For example, buying 5 pounds of rice provides enough for several weeks of meals. It can actually be cooked ahead and frozen to add to meals during cooking.
Consider creating a menu alongside of the budget and grocery list. Planning meals ahead is much easier than trying to decide in the grocery store or on a day to day basis. In many cases, bulk items can be purchased, prepared, and frozen. On the day which that menu item has been set for it can be thawed or microwaved for supper. Many students who work while attending school simply do not have the energy to prepare a healthy meal every night. Being able to pop something homemade and healthy into the microwave saves money, time, and energy.