Saving an extra dollar may seem trivial to some, but for many college students, frugality is a necessity. Paying for rent, books, tuition, gas and food make for a stressful financial situation for many students. Because such a large portion of a college students’ budget goes towards food, some students use meals as an opportunity to penny-pinch, while others spend freely. For freshmen, learning how to budget and have enough money for all of their expenses can be an adjustment. The majority of these students are transitioning from living at home with their families where meals are provided for them. Now, as they enter their first semester of college, they are discovering new financial responsibilities. Stephanie Smith, an incoming freshman, is aware that her financial situation is going to change drastically when she moves from her home with her parents to her own apartment in Orem. “I’m not used to paying for rent and my own food, so it’s going to be really different when I move out.” Smith said. “I hope I learn how to be a smart shopper so I don’t spend tons of money on food.” Smith plans on buying food at the grocery store and packing a lunch every day instead of eating at one of the restaurants on campus. “I think it will be a lot cheaper if I pack my lunch,” Smith said. “It may not be as delicious but it will save me money.” According to Smith, her goal is to spend $10 per week on food at the grocery store and only eat at restaurants two or three times per month. “I know $10 per week might be hard, but I’m going to try to be a frugal as possible. I’m going to buy cheap things that will last me a long time like rice, bread, oatmeal, potatoes and chicken,” Smith said. “It’s way cheaper to buy a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter than buying lunch from Subway every day.” There are many other students who relate to Smith and bring sack lunches to school, but there is another population of students who do not hold back when they spend money on food. Costa Vida and Subway are two popular choices for on-campus dining. A sweet pork burrito and a 22 ounce drink from Costa Vida cost $8.58, and a 6 inch BLT with a drink and chips from Subway costs $6.09. For students who buy lunch every day at one of these restaurants, their weekly food expense for lunch alone is approximately $30.00 – $40.00. This may seem like a lot for students like Smith who opt to bring a lunch from home, but for students like James McKown, junior, spending $40.00 a week on food is normal. “I’m usually in a rush in the morning when I leave for school, so it’s way more convenient for me to buy lunch on campus instead of packing a lunch from home,” McKown said. The food court is a crowded spot on campus, so it seems that McKown is not alone in his spending habits. “I know a lot of students who think it’s worth it to buy lunch on campus because it is so much easier than grocery shopping all the time,” McKown said.
By MELISSA LINDSEY
Assistant Life Editor