Planning ahead is the golden rule of shopping on a budget. Student budgets are tight to start with, and with new-found independence, impulse buying can be tough to control.
With a newly revamped J Street at hand, it can be easy to go crazy and spend all your money at once. Budget your meals and keep track of spending so you don’t run out of money by midterms.
“Blowing your money on J Street will only lead you to spend more Colonial Cash. Spending more Colonial Cash early means less FoBoGro and GW Deli later,” sophomore Jason Patel said.
Also, avoid grocery shopping when you’re hungry. Enough said.
With $700 worth of Dining Dollars per semester for freshmen, a student can spend $40 a week at J Street to last through the semester. The remaining $1000 worth of Colonial Cash can be budgeted to approximately $60 a week to last a student throughout the fall.
When it’s time to get out and have some fun, walking or taking 4-RIDE are a budget-conscious student’s best options. Running from 7 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. seven days a week, 4-RIDE is a free GW shuttle service that roughly covers the area bordered by the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 26th Street to the west, M Street to the north, 18th Street to the east and E Street to the south. Just call 202-994-7433.
The Metro is another mode that most GW students rely on to get around. Depending on whether your destination is Metro-accessible, it is certainly a cheaper option to get off campus.
However, if it isn’t Metro-accessible, you can always drive! Zipcar, a car rental service that allows hourly rentals of eco-friendly vehicles, permits all GW students over the age of 18 to join at a discounted rate. This includes reduced or waived application fees and reduced rates for car reservations.
With Safeway, Trader Joe’s and a brand-new Whole Foods Market right around the corner, buying groceries and cooking your own meals are the easiest ways to save money. Get your friends to cook with you in your kitchen or in the one down the hall. Having a floor cook-off or simply planning a potluck with friends can be great ways to start off the year.
If cooking isn’t your thing, there are a few cheap eats around the District as well.
“Lindy’s restaurant is a diamond in the rough. The food is good, it’s cheap, the owner is the friendliest guy you’ll ever meet and he bakes his own cookies,” senior Cameron Smither said.
Lindy’s burgers are a good price, ranging from $4.50 to $7.50.
If you are short on time and have class in 20 minutes, stop by the GW Deli for anything from a cream cheese bagel ($2.10) to a sandwich with everything on it ($9).
Another popular choice for students is good old Chipotle with $8.25 for a burrito with chicken and desired toppings that don’t have an extra charge.
Online gadget shopping
Online, online, online! Even with shipping costs, merchandise, books and electronics tend to be cheaper online.
Amazon Student, a free membership program, includes special deals and discounts for college students, including free Amazon Prime shipping benefits for six months, free two-day shipping for most items and special promotions exclusively for students.
A small set of speakers (approximately $20 on Amazon.com) and HDMI cables ($10 on Amazon.com) are also cheap fixes when you don’t have the luxury of buying lots expensive gizmos. Simply plug in your computer to your TV and you’re all set for a movie night with Netflix and friends. Netflix memberships cost $7.99 a month for unlimited movies and TV episodes after the first free month.
LivingSocial and Groupon are budgeting staples, with amazing discounts and deals for almost every activity, restaurant and place imaginable. It’s also a great way to get off campus and do something new without hurting your wallet.
Recent LivingSocial deals include a $20 Amazon.com gift card for just $10, and $6 for one sandwich, side dish and soda (excluding delivery) at the Shawarma Spot on 18th Street.
Also, recent Groupon deals include $25 for a 30 minute far-infrared massage treatment at Solar Planet and $10 for a men’s haircut at Dominick Hair Stylist.
Subscribe to their e-mails, and keep an eye out for deals in the city. Popular favorites include fro-yo deals and amazing hour-long massage offers.