Easy and Inexpensive College Meal Ideas That Actually Taste Great!

With a new found freedom and a hectic schedule, it is all too easy for college students to fall into the trap of late night pizza and greasy take- out washed down with cheap beer. Unfortunately, this is an expensive and unhealthy habit. Hello Freshman 15! Here are some suggestions for preparing meals that are Super-Sized on taste but diet-sized on cost:

Top staple items to stock in your fridge and cupboards:

  • Pasta
  • Tuna
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Eggs
  • Oatmeal
  • Potatoes
  • Chicken
  • Cheese
  • Veggies
  • Fruit

These items above are inexpensive and can easily be used as part of a meal or recipe.

Student-Friendly Meal Ideas:

 

Breakfast for Dinner. There is a reason why they call it “the incredible, edible egg.” Not only are eggs a great source of protein but they are easy, inexpensive, and can be eaten for any meal. Use eggs, cheese, and veggies to make an omelet or a frittata. If you are a carnivore, add some bacon, ham, or turkey sausage into the mix. You can make hard boiled eggs for a snack, make an egg salad sandwich for lunch, or egg and cheese on a bagel for a filling breakfast- take your pick!

Slow Cooker. This is a must-have item for college students. A slow cooker makes it easy to make delicious pulled pork, chicken or beef dishes, soups, and casseroles which should last for several meals.

Baked Pasta Dishes. These are a favorite of college students everywhere, and with good reason. They are cheap, easy, and can feed an army- or a house of hungry students. For easy cheesy baked ziti, mixed cooked pasta, ricotta, mozzarella, sauce, top with parmesan, and bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Mac and cheese (everybody’s favorite comfort food) is a great dish to experiment with. Add cut up hot dogs, sausage, or veggies, add breadcrumbs and create your own casserole.

Baked Potatoes. Baked Potatoes make a delicious and easy lunch. Be creative- top with broccoli, cheese, chili, sour cream, or any topping of your choice.

Hopefully, this will encourage you to save money on take-out and get creative in the kitchen. Bon Appetite!

 

 

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Big Halloween Costume Ideas on a Small College-sized Budget

Tricks, treats, piles of candy, and campus-wide costume parties- what’s not to love about Halloween? But wait. . . before you run to the nearest Halloween store and drop $60.00 or more on a costume, here are some fun, easy, and inexpensive ideas that are sure to impress. All you need is your closet, your roommate’s closet, and the thrift store to make these big costumes on a small budget.

1. Jump on the vampire bandwagon. Like Twilight and True Blood? Of course, you do. It’s easier than you think to dress up like Eric, Bill, or your favorite vampire. Use white face powder or paint to make your complexion appear pale. Add fake teeth and bright red lipstick. Dress in all black, of course, and carry a bottle of “True Blood” to complete the look.

 

2. Party in pairs. What better way to get a party started than dress like Hugh Heffner and a playboy playmate? All you need is a long silk rode and a cigar to appear like Heff, and a black leotard, bunny ear, and a cotton tail to be the perfect bunny.

 

3. Go Gaga. Lady Gaga is a popular choice for Halloween. Whether you copy the infamous meat hanger dress, or create your own crazy style, you are sure to have fun with this one. Anything goes!

 

4. Starving college student. This is an easy idea that is sure to get a few laughs. Choose old, worn, sloppy clothing, and wear a sign that says, “will work for room, board, and tuition.”

 

Some other inexpensive and easy  ideas you can throw together last minute:

  • Doctor. Scrubs and a stethoscope
  • Baby. Pajamas, pick tails, pacifier, and freckles drawn on the cheeks
  • Nerd. Hair slicked down, a pocket protector, glasses, freckles, and pants pulled up way high
  • Hippy. bellbottoms, round sunglasses, long wig, tie dye, and a sign that reads “free love”
  • The Blues Brothers. Black suits, white shirts, back top hat, and dark sunglasses

Remember, Halloween is for everybody! Not just kids. So enjoy, and don’t eat too much candy.

 

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When It Comes To Saving Money, A Little Goes A Long Way!

Even the smallest changes in everyday lifestyle lead to big savings overtime. Here are some easy tips and tricks to help save money:

  • Pinch every penny (literally, right into a coin jar). A change jar is one of the easiest and most effective ways to watch your money grow. When you see a penny on the street, do you pick it up or walk right by? We are flooded with change on a daily basis. Make it a habit of emptying out your pockets every night and collecting all spare change into a jar. Once the jar is filled, count and cash in at a bank with a coin machine (one that doesn’t charge a fee for the privilage of counting your coins). You will be delighted with the results! This is also a good way to establish a strong money saving mindset.

 

  • Kick the coffee (or the buying of it, at least). Purchasing a daily cup of joe seems like no biggie BUT one cup of coffee per day can add up to $1,500 or more per year! Ouch! Do you really want to drink that money away? Instead, brew coffee at home and carry it in a thermos or to-go cup.

 

  • Trade the plastic for a Brita. Instead of spending $1 a day on a natural resource, drink water straight from the tap. If you aren’t a fan of tap water, buy a Brita filter to flush out any impurities. It’s good for the environment, so technically you are saving money and saving the world at the same time! What could be better than that?

 

  • Coupons, Student discounts, and other assorted no-brainers. Nowadays, most supermarkets offer money saving bonus cards. Be sure to always carry this with you, as well as coupons when going to the market.
  • Students have the advantage of getting discounts on everything from travel and software, to pizza. Take advantage of these savings by always having your student ID on hand.
  • Drink cheap. I have two words for you – Natty Light. If you are in college, you know what I’m talking about. Do not waste money on pricey beer!

 

Good luck, my money saving, coffee brewing, earth loving friends!

 

 

eCampus.com - Rent or Buy Textbooks Biggerbooks.com Great alternative to textbook rentals, saves students a lot of money

Hey Students, Don’t Get Duped By Debt

College is the time to make new friends, share in new experiences, and WHAT? . . .establish more DEBT? Yep, like it or not, unless your parents are wealthy you will acquire some debt while in school. The good news is that you can limit the amount that you borrow. Even though you are borrowing money to create more wealth for the future, debt management is crucial for future success. Here are some tips to be smart about borrowing and not be duped by debt!

  • More expensive does not always equal better. Pick a school which best fits into the family budget. There are many public colleges which are ranked as some of the best colleges in the country. State funded schools provide a high quality education with a much lower price tag than a private college. Also, there is nothing wrong with starting at a community college and transferring credits. The only thing you miss out on is the higher loan payments- what a pity! Read up on college rankings, best values for the money, etc, and always consider finanaces when picking your college.

 

  • Spend less on textbooks. Renting textbooks is a no-brainer when it comes to reducing debt. Review our site to learn about the best places to rent textbooks and save boat loads of money.

 

  • Be creative about borrowing. If you can borrow money for school from a family member or outside source (interest-free) go for it!

 

  • Be smart about credit. Credit cards are a huge culprit of future debt- so use responsibly. Ideally, only use it in cases of emergencies. Keep the limit to a low amount such as $500. This will save the future aggravation of playing catch-up with soaring interest rates.

 

  • Make you major count. Use logic when choosing a major. Though we all like to romanticize the concept of learning for its own sake, the practical fact is that the primary goal of attending college is to gain future employment. With that being said, if you must major in liberal studies, pick a minor which is specialized to afford you a competitive edge. Otherwise you will be moving back in with mom and dad after graduation.

 

 

 

 

 

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Cheap and Chic College Decor

Moving out of your folks’ home to live on your own is scary and exciting. You want your new college home to FEEL like a home, not a cinder block room crammed with your stuff. Whether you live in a dormitory or apartment, here are some tips to transform your new digs into a comfortable oasis- all the while sticking to a tight budget.

Dress up your dorm room with these must-have items:

  • A cozy comforter with coordinating throw pillows.
  • An accent rug with a chic pattern.
  • Curtains (ditch the ugly ones that come with the room) trust me on this.
  • Good lighting elements- seek out cute lamp shades.
  • Organizers that can easily be stored under the bed and in the closet.
  • A plethora of pictures to personalize your walls.
  • A mirror hung on the wall to make the space appear larger.

Adorn an apartment without breaking the bank with these helpful accents:

  • Buy a stylish slip cover to transform an old sofa into fabulous.
  • Raid your grandparents and parent’s house for some ”vintage treasures.” Always ask permission before you remove their furniture!
  • Use paints and stains to transform old desks and dressers into masterpieces.
  • If handy, build your own furniture. I know many fraternity members who built full service bars for the frat house. Put that same amount of gusto into building necessary pieces.
  • If you can’t make it- or take it- remeber that IKEA  is a college student’s best friend!

Keeping it clean (DIY Tips)

Between studying, classes, and socializing, cleaning surely is NOT the number one on your to-do list. Keep on top of small spaces, though, so they don’t get overridden by dirt, dust, and grime. You want your living space to be healthy. Here are some cheap and easy tidying tips that are also environmentally-friendly.

  • Instead of tossing old clothing and towels, cut them into small pieces and use as cleaning rags. This will save you lots of money overtime.
  • Sprinkle backing soda on carpets to fight nasty odors.
  • Mix 1 cup vinegar with 1 cup water in a spray bottle for a fantastic multi-purpose cleaner.
  • White distilled vinegar is an effective solution to fight mold. When your bathroom gets funky, spray the areas with vinegar and let sit (do not wipe or rinse). If you can deal with the smell temporarily, it will eventually dissolve and leave your surfaces sparkling clean.
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Wasted Money, What a Waste!

College is the time to stretch your dollars, not waste them. Many students, however, struggle with this concept and spend money needlessly. The good news is that, with some subtle changes, it is easier than you think to effectively manage your money.

Ways to NOT be a waster:

Do NOT buy new textbooks. Buying new textbooks at the campus bookstore is one of the biggest money wasting mistakes that a student can make. There are SO many options available to secure the same high quality books at a fraction of the cost. You can literally save hundreds of dollars by purchasing used books on-line or renting textbooks. Be sure to examine our textbook site reviews for information on how and where to buy/rent textbooks and save yourself money.

Stop spending leftover money from student loans. Don’t do it, period. This is a common mistake that seems like a good idea at the time but you will have to pay the money back. . . WITH INTEREST! A smarter choice would be to make an early payment on your student loan.

Ditch the car. If you can get away with not having a car on campus this will save you great expense. You won’t have the burden of worrying about 4 years of insurance, repairs, gas, and parking fees. Instead, get around on feet, by bike, public transportation, or carpool.

Limit the dining out. Eating out too often is a serious money drain. Cook meals at home for a cheaper, healthier, and easier alternative. Better yet, invest in a campus meal plan.

Alcohol. Buying a round of drink at the local bar will gain you popularity but deplete your funds. Keep an eye on your spending in all social situations.

Don’t live alone. Though it may be tempting to have your own place, the financial burden is huge. Instead, live with several roommates to help share in the expense.

Go to class. This seems like a no-brainer, right? But, as we all know, college students are notorious for skipping large percentages of class time. Tuition is expensive, take advantage of every learning opportunity possible- that is why you are there (or at least, part of why you are there, hopefully).

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Don’t Buy Into Impulse Buying!

Do you have a shopping habit? Are you finding ways to justify buying yet another pair of shoes or purchasing something you don’t need simply because it’s on sale? If so, join the club! Impulse shopping or purchases that are not planned, are common and dangerous. If you aren’t careful, impulse buying will sabotage all of your budgeting efforts. Since college is no time to give into unplanned sprees, here are some tips to curb that unnecessary spending.

Ditch the credit cards. When you go out, carry only a limited amount of cash and leave the plastic behind. This keeps you on track and establishes an absolute budget. When the cash is gone, that’s it.

Track your spending. Keep a small notebook handy and track your daily spending. We oftentimes lose track of where our money goes. This is a great tool to analyze spending patterns. The daily latte habit can really add up- Trust me, I know!

Do not make shopping a pastime. Next time you are bored and find yourself charging to the mall, stop, and switch gears. Exercise, cook, hang out with friends, or watch a movie instead.

Grocery store tips. If we didn’t have to eat, we would all be rich (and thin!) Food, however, is a necessity so we need to hit the grocery store on a regular basis. Always make a list before you go food shopping and always stick that list. Also, NEVER go food shopping on an empty stomach; you’ll only end up with a slim wallet and a nauseating Ben & Jerry’s hangover.

Ask before you buy. Here are some important questions to ponder before you plunk down funds: Do I REALLY need this? Can I borrow this item from somebody? Can I find it cheaper elsewhere?

Cheaper does not equal better. Sale signs are to impulse buyers what a flame is to a moth. Avoid them! Do not be swayed by the price tag; if you don’t need it, don’t buy it.

Establish long-term goals. Instead of spending wastefully, focus on saving. Picture a debt-free life.

Walk away. Whether it’s a new Nintendo game, latest CD, or new pair of shoes, if you see something you must have, walk away and wait a few days. If you are still daydreaming about how great you’ll look in those heels after a few days, then you can re-evaluate. But most of the time, the feeling will pass and you will lose the urge to buy.

 

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Planes, Trains, and Spring Break $ Saving Tips

You endure late night cram sessions, bust your butt all semester long, and when Spring Break rolls around, all you want to do is chill on the beach with a frothy drink in hand! Unfortunately as we all know- Spring Break vacations can be expensive (to say the least!)

If a Spring Break escape is a must-do on your calender, the good news is there are lots of ways to save money. Here are a few ideas to enjoy Spring Break on a lean budget:

  • Plan Early. Prices on airfare and accommodations go up closer to the date of departure- so be sure to plan your trip as early as possible to avoid a future money pit situation.

 

  • Be flexible and creative when it comes to the destination. You don’t have to drop thousands on a tropical get-away. There are plenty of options that are affordable and just as fun! Did you ever consider camping? Fishing, rafting, hiking, beer, and the good times around a campfire; the experiences that come with a small price tag are priceless!

 

  • Use a Student Travel site or Local Agency. Travel agencies that cater to college students tend to focus attention on affordable packages that can save you money.

 

  • Plan Ahead. Do research and explore deal sites such as Groupon, Living Social, and Trip Advisor, etc. to compare rates and catch every travel deal that comes along.

 

  • Travel in Packs. Travel with groups of friends to take advantage of cost sharing opportunities and discounted rates.

 

  • Road Tripping. Hop in the car and drive! Share the expenses of gas and lodging. Some popular, fun, and affordable road trip destination are: Panama City, Daytona Beach, and South Padre Island.

 

  • Grocery Store. Do NOT eat every Spring Break meal at a restaurant. Once you arrive at your Spring Break location visit the local grocery store to buy cereal, other easy breakfast foods, and snacks. This will save boat loads of money. Meals out can really add up. And try and take it easy on the alcohol (Yeah, right!)

 

  • Don’t Shop. Have fun while away, but avoid buying trinkets. Souvenirs may seem like a good idea at the time but, once you get home, they will likely collect dust at the bottom of your closet.

Be safe, be smart, and Spring Break won’t break your budget!

eCampus.com - Rent or Buy Textbooks Biggerbooks.com Great alternative to textbook rentals, saves students a lot of money

Student Jobs That DON’T Suck!

Fall is here and colleges are back in session. Now that you are living on your own and juggling expenses, in addition to saving money in college, you could surely use some extra cash. If you shudder at the thought of flipping burgers, though, do not fret. Here are some job ideas that are both flexible and convenient- but more importantly- these jobs DON’T SUCK!

Tutor. If your grades are relatively high, and you enjoy helping others, tutoring is a perfect job for you! Not only does tutoring pay well, it allows for a flexible schedule. Sign up through your college to become a tutor or post an ad in the local paper. Don’t limit yourself to fellow college students. . . high schoolers need help too, and, to them, you’re a wise elder.

Babysitting. Many local families in college towns are in hot pursuit of babysitters. This gig is golden. You get paid well to have fun with the kiddos. You can also work on homework after the kids go to sleep.

College Fitness Center. Are you a gym rat who works out seven days a week? Why not get a job at the gym and get paid to do what you love? College Fitness Centers are always in need of Front Desk Workers and qualified aerobics instructors.

College Computer Lab. If you are a tech-savvy trouble shooter, this one is for you! You can even play on the Internet (or “study”) in your down time.

Resident Advisor. The best perk of this job is that most universities offer free room and board for RA’s. Talk about saving money!

Library Services. A great choice for those who want peace and quiet.; this job allows you to assist your fellow students while having plenty of time to study.

Freelance Writing. Did your English SAT scores outshine your math powers? Scour the Web for writing positions. Many of these time-flexible gigs are perfect for students and allow a great way to build a  portfolio!

Be Creative (Work For Yourself). Does that $400 designer purse you purchased pre-college now seem like a bad idea? Sell it on EBay! It is a free and easy way to earn some money for your old stuff. Also, if you aren’t too attached to your college textbooks, be sure to sell them back at the end of each semester for some extra cash!

eCampus.com - Rent or Buy Textbooks Biggerbooks.com Great alternative to textbook rentals, saves students a lot of money

Beat The Freshman Fifteen- Cut the Fat on Spending!

Everyone knows that a college education is one of the best investments a person can make. That investment, however, requires an awful lot of up-front capital. So, what’s a college student to do? Try following these tips for cutting spending and living large on a lean budget.

  • Take it easy on eating out.  Spending money on restaurants, take-out, and mid-night pizza is a sure-fire way to burn through cash. Prepare meals at home, pack snacks, or invest in a campus meal plan.

 

  • Enjoy free Activities. Colleges offer a variety of free AND fun activities for students. These include movies, game nights, socials, and more. These activities are the perfect way to relax without breaking the bank! More importantly, you’ll make new friends and grow your social network in ways that will prove invaluable later in life.

 

  • Choose local banks that cater to students. Open a free checking and savings account to avoid extra fees and service charges.

 

  • If you must drink, drink cheaply (and, of course, legally!). The mark-up on alcohol is outrageous and is a fast way to make your money disappear. Instead of splurging on top-shelf stuff, seek out local joints. There will be plenty of time later in life to enjoy fine wines and craft brews.

 

  • Buy Used Textbooks. New textbooks are one of a college student’s biggest budget-busting burdens. Every student NEEDS books, of course, but the words in the used versions are the same as in the fresh new books. Buy used and save a load of cash!

 

  • Frugal living is chic. Resist, I repeat, resist the temptation to buy useless clutter.

 

  • Keep reminding yourself that you are a student.  This is the time in your life which everyone expects to live the Bohemian lifestyle. Embrace that!

 

  • Budget wisely. Build a realistic and practical budget at the beginning of each semester and LIVE BY IT.

 

  • Avoid ATM fees. . . the banks are already rich enough and there’s no need to pay them for the privilege of getting your own money. ATM fees rack up quickly and cost you a lot of money. Keep enough cash on hand for needed expenses to avoid this trap.

 

  • Get a bike. A bike is not only a great way to save money on gas; you will get plenty of exercise so you can skip the pricey gym membership while helping Mother Earth AND your wallet.
eCampus.com - Rent or Buy Textbooks Biggerbooks.com Great alternative to textbook rentals, saves students a lot of money