Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Like a Pro: Living Cheap

Please note, (I am not trying to make excuses but...) I had to basically rewrite this thing during class the morning of my newspaper deadline because my flash-drive decided that it was a corrupt file. Not the best way to start off a Monday morning. Luckily, my English paper was fine or I would have been royally F'd in the A.

Like most students here at UNH, I work over the summer, but I don’t exactly have the time to work during the school year. Well, actually as a liberal arts major, I have a lot of free time. It is not that I am lazy; I just don’t want to jeopardize my grades for a crappy job that would only lead to a few extra spending dollars. Or at least that is the excuse I give to my parents. In reality, I have fallen into the vicious cycle of college. The vicious cycle of college includes –but not in any particular order – sleeping, eating, classes, napping, playing video games, studying, procrastinating in general, relaxing, recreational activities, and partying. As you can see my schedule is far too clustered to have a job, especially if I want to keep my health.

I mean I already drink coffee in the morning, four Red Bulls at lunch and three more for dinner. I need all that caffeine so I can stay up late at night in order to finish my homework because I spent too much time during the day napping, writing on the blog or enjoying the outdoors. If you can’t tell, I really have my priorities in line. After having all that caffeine during the day it can be tough to fall asleep - if I haven’t crashed yet - so I need to down half a bottle of Nyquil in order to fall asleep by 3:30 a.m. As you could tell, having a job on top of that would simply add too much stress. I have come to realize that the college diet includes energy drinks, alcohol, greasy pizza and Nyquil, no wonder why Americans are unhealthy. If only there was a KFC on campus so I could grab a Double Down between classes.

Since I haven’t had a job at UNH, I have had to pick up on a few tactics in order to save a little extra money now and again. As a blogger and columnist I feel obligated to share these very simple, yet useful strategies.

The first major category is food. Living on campus we have access to unlimited meal plans, or at the very least a certain amount of swipes at the dining halls. The major problem with the dining halls – trying not to hurt anyone’s feelings here – is that they close pretty early, considering how late the average college student stays up, especially on the weekends, when even Philbrook closes early. Also, apart from a piece of fruit or dessert, we aren’t allowed to take food out, so this means that we must look other places for a late-night snack. My recommendation is to stock up ahead of time and at all costs to avoid the vending machines. While they are very convenient, they are way over priced for the amount of food you get. I first realized I had a vending machine problem when the one in my dorm was only sold out of three items, and they were the only three things I buy. The moral of that story is that vending machines add up and are overpriced. Seriously, vending machines are like the MUB Bookstore of foods.

Speaking of the MUB Bookstore, try to avoid buying your books there. The Durham Book Exchange is slightly cheaper, but if you are able to get a book list early enough, Amazon or other textbook websites are unbeatable

Another thing students spend way too much money on is clothing. Thanks to the student section t-shirt tosses and different organizations on campus, half of my shirts were free. I have seven t-shirts and a hat thanks to the Cat Pack and tables in the MUB. My best free-shirt story occurred a few weeks ago at D-Hop with a group of friends. The owner threw out a couple shirts and two young ladies in my group appeared to want one. So, I go up to the owner, chat with him for a bit and return with three shirts. When the girls asked how I pulled it off I reminded them I am The New Hampshirite and they couldn’t believe the owner of D-Hop read the blog. In actuality, my two older brothers worked at D-Hop and the owner always liked them, but my group of friends didn’t have to know that.

Another small tip is to use your debit or credit card and avoid getting cash from the ATMs unless it is one from your own bank. Otherwise it costs three dollars and that will definitely add up over the course of the school year. I hope these simple strategies will be helpful if you are looking to save a few dollars around campus.

Stay classy, not UMassy.

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