Consumer Savings Expert Andrea Woroch has been featured as a media expert source on NBC’s Today Show, FOX & Friends, MSNBC, ABC News NOW and many more. To view recent interviews or find more information, visit AndreaWoroch.com.
A recent article in USA Today indicates Americans ages 18 to 24 aren’t eating at fast food restaurants nearly as much today as they were five years ago. In that time span, average annual visits to these eateries have dropped from 245 to only 192, or roughly one less visit per week. Thanks to struggling sales, chains like Pizza Hut and Subway are offering special deals to draw in more young customers.
If you’re pinching every penny possible this semester, these recent fast food deals are one way to get out of the college dining hall and treat yourself without going overboard. If fast food isn’t your thing, consider these ten tips to help you indulge on a student’s budget.
1. Sell Old Before Buying New
You’ve crunched the numbers and a new flat-screen TV is within reach, as long as you’re able to sell your old one. While it’s tempting to make this purchase right away, it’s best to cash in unwanted items first. Best Buy has a trade-in program where you can get gift cards in exchange for your old electronics. If you’re not happy with the price or you’d rather have cash, you can always head to the pawn shop for some old-fashioned haggling.
2. Take a Day Trip
Even if your budget looks great, jetting off to Las Vegas for the weekend is likely out of the picture. Airfare and accommodations are just too expensive unless you plan well in advance. If you’re itching to get out of town, hop in the car and take a day trip. Thanks to dropping gas prices, now is the best time to do so.
3. Get Savvy with Coupons
Every dollar counts when you’re on a tight budget, and coupons are one of the best methods for saving cash. Before you recoil at the thought of clipping coupons from your mom’s Sunday newspaper, know there are more modern options. You can find online coupons at sites like CouponSherpa.com for everything from cosmetics to jewelry, or even download a mobile coupon app for in-store savings if you’re lucky enough to own a smartphone.
4. Make a Trade
Do you own a bunch of TV series on DVD where the mere thought of watching another episode makes your mind melt? If you live in the dorms, you’re likely not alone. Instead of lamenting what was likely an expensive purchase, find someone who will swap a series you haven’t seen for one of your own. When you can’t find a trading partner, sites like Swap.com come in handy; the only expense for trading is the cost of shipping.
5. Do Nothing At All
Clear your schedule, power down your cellphone and go off the grid for a weekend. As hectic as life is amid classes, homework and social obligations, some down time can be an indulgence in itself. There are plenty of low-cost activities you can do at the same time, too. Things like DIY mani-pedis or taking a candle-lit bubble bath are good options for making your weekend of nothing feel special.
6. Go to a Minor League Game
While floor seats at the Lakers probably aren’t a possibility, tickets to amateur and minor league games are surprisingly affordable. These days it seems like most metro areas have teams for sports like indoor lacrosse and arena football. To draw more fans, teams often have special promotions or student discounts available. In many cases, you can get really good tickets for low prices, so pick out some seats on the 50-yard line and be a VIP for a game.
7. Show Your ID
You’re only a student once — well, usually — so take advantage of the status by asking retailers and other establishments if they offer student discounts. More than likely they do, and you can find yourself paying less than the average Joe for everything from movie tickets to yoga classes. Check out these student discounts before paying full price for anything.
8. Get What You Really Want
You may think getting several items on sale is better than indulging in one coveted purchase, but often times you end up spending more on the former. Consider how often you’ll use what you purchase to help you decide. A $75 pair of boots you wear to the ground is ultimately a better value than $80 worth of trendy shirts you wear for one season.
9. Invest in Yourself
One of the best ways to indulge is to invest in yourself. Sign up for a class outside of school for which you’ve always had an interest. Whether it’s cake decorating or Jiu-Jitsu, you’ll be equipped with some new skills that continue to benefit you in the future. Plus, classes often last for a month or two, so it’s something you can look forward to each week.
10. Keep Your Change
Keeping a change jar can help you take your indulgence above and beyond. At the end of the day, just toss the coins you accrued into a jar. If you never carry cash, consider using Bank of America’s Keep the Change program. On purchases made with your debit card, totals are rounded to the nearest dollar and the difference is put into your savings account.