Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A College Kid's Guide to Saving Cash: Food

Whether you’re entering your final year of university (we are!) or finally getting into your own apartment, here’s the first installment of a weekly post dedicated to money-saving tips so you don’t have to eat ramen noodles every day because you’re a broke mofo. 
Let’s address the biggest elephant in the room: food.

Unless you’re still kicking it in your childhood room at mom and dad’s house or living in a dorm requiring a meal plan, odds are you’re grocery shopping a couple times a month.
  • Generic: Buying generic is the easiest way to save a few bucks. Picking the Meijer bread over Aunt Millie’s adds up over time. Here, it’s the difference between paying $1.50 and almost $4.00 for a loaf of bread. Of course, sometimes you have to splurge because the brand name is just better, but when you can pick generic.
    This rule doesn't apply to just food. It works for toiletries, medicines and other necessities.
  • Bulk: Depending on how much storage space you have, what you’re buying and how you and your roommates (if you ‘em) split food, this can be a money waster, so be careful! But for the most part, buying in bulk is good. Stick to non-perishable items: cereal, pasta, canned sauces, frozen veggies and fruits, etc.
    Again, this rule isn't limited to just food. I buy cleaning supplies and toiletries in bulk.
  • Restaurants: Not eating at restaurants all the time is probably the number one way to save money food. However, it’s inevitable you’re going to out with friends and grab food from a restaurant. Just be smart about it. Instead getting the $13 meal, maybe pick something of the appetizer menu. They’re usually equivalent to a one-person meal. Make sure to take home your leftovers. You’ll get two meals for the price of one. Another option: split a meal with a friend.
    Also, just because you’re trying to save money, don’t skimp on the tip. Nothing says “I'm an asshole” like a crappy tip. Remember, your server is also trying to make a living.
  • Budget: I know, I know, budgeting is not a fun concept, but you might as well get over it and start doing it now. At some point, you’ll have to create a budget for yourself to manage finances. How not get used to the concept on a small scale? Practice budgeting buy giving yourself a limit when grocery shopping.
  • Coupons: No one said you have to become an extreme couponer, but using coupons for things you regularly buy adds up after a while. Also take advantage of reward programs and other incentives from your grocers. These can also save you some cash.
What ways are you saving?

Until next week, kiddies...

- J

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