Dinner at the Four Seasons in Georgetown dressed in a designer Versace outfit followed by front-row seats for Broadway show at the National Theater might be a typical Saturday night for D.C.’s wealthier residents. But college students without a budget the size of the capital can still afford to have a good time in the City of Presidents.
Both Dupont Circle and Georgetown have many bargains hidden between their expensive designer stores and five-star restaurants.
As the temperature starts to drop, many students may be reluctant to walk the distance to the shopping areas. But thrifty students can forget about expensive cabs. The Georgetown Shuttle stops at the Foggy Bottom Metro stop and takes passengers to various Georgetown locations for only 50 cents.
Sophomore Mary Grote said she uses the shuttle to go to Georgetown University.
“I think the shuttle is an amazing bargain,” Grote said. “You can’t beat it. A dollar round trip is even cheaper than the Metro.”
Moviegoers who want to save a buck can walk over to the Foundry Building on Thomas Jefferson Street in Georgetown. Movies there cost only $3, which is less than half what most other theaters in the area.
The Foundry can afford to charge less than most cinemas because it shows films no longer playing in most theaters but not yet out on video.
If students flash their GWorld card at the box offices of AMC Courthouse and Union Station movie theaters, they can receive a student discount and pay only $5 for any show.
Live theater is affordable, too. Junior Amanda Hill said she enjoys going to the Kennedy Center’s daily free performances offered at 6 p.m. on the Millennium Stage.
“Millennium Stage is a cheap way to be exposed to the theater,” Hill said.
If students are not interested in the arts but are looking to expand their wardrobe without hefty credit card bills, then thrift stores are a good bet.
Secondi, a consignment store located on Connecticut and R streets, has a wide range of second hand women’s apparel for sale. The thrift store sells coats, dresses, handbags, glasses, jewelry and even shoes.
The store also welcomes customers to bring in clothes they wish to sell. Customers will receive 50 percent of the selling price of the clothes they bring in to sell.
The Thrift Shop on 27th and P streets sells second-hand clothing, costume jewelry and furniture. Along with a wide variety of products comes a range of prices. Ball gowns are $5 to $59, tuxedos cost $85 and blouses cost between $1 and $30.
Other vintage stores popular among GW students include Deja Blue in Georgetown, which sells vintage blue jeans, Rage on Wisconsin, Sylvia’s Vintage on 18th Street and Value Thrift on 14th Street.
Eating out does not mean students have to pay the high prices of
restaurants like Filomena. Finding an inexpensive place to eat is not as tricky as one might think.
Chipotle, a Mexican restaurant with two locations – one in Dupont Circle on Connecticut Ave. and another on 19th and M streets – offers a wide menu of burritos, fajitas and tacos. The most expensive dish is the barbacoa, shredded beef with chipotle peppers served in a tortilla for $5.25.
Sophomore Lindsay Dudgeon frequents to Dupont Circle location.
“I live at the Aston and Chipotle’s is close by, so it’s not only convenient but affordable,” Dudgeon said. “I love Mexican food, so it’s a perfect match.”
The Burro at 2000 Penn is another inexpensive place to grab a quick bite. It was rated high among the cheapest eats by Washingtonian magazine. Prices range from $3.95 for a quesadilla to $6.99 for a chicken fajita.
Students also recommend Wrapworks on Connecticut Ave. and Cafe Asia just off campus on 19th Street for their low prices and good food.
Books represent one of the biggest expenses at college. The District has several used books stores, including Book Mark It on 12th Street. Although the store does not carry textbooks, the literature sold there ranges in price from $2 to $10.
Another way to save money is to purchase a Student Advantage Card. The card provides students with discounts at Staples, Tower Records, CVS pharmacy, Foot Locker, Champs and many other stores.
Junior P.J. Diangco acquired his card early in his college career and uses it at various locations.
“It saves me a lot of money on Amtrak trains each time I go home to New Jersey,” Diangco said.
For students running low on food, Shoppers Food Warehouse sells groceries at discount prices. Wal-Mart also sells budget-priced food. Both are located just outside the city in Alexandria, Va.
Junior Beth Penfield said she has her own strategy for saving money.
“My roommates and friends would take our cars on the weekends to (Shoppers Food Warehouse) instead of Safeway,” Penfield said. “It is a lot cheaper and you can buy in bulk.” Sophomore, Lindsay Illion said she likes to spend the least amount of money and time when she shops. Illion said she likes to go to Target in Alexandria, where shoppers can buy anything from clothes to groceries.
“It is the best place to go because you can get anything you will ever need in one economical stop,” Illion said.