Tag Archives: groceries

Student Voices: Life on a Budget

“…anyone who lives within their means, suffers from a serious lack of imagination.”
– Oscar Wilde

Going Out

“MIIS offers monthly happy hours with kegs, wine, small appetizers, and a fun crowd that is free so long as one brings a cup…”

“Clubs like the United Nations, the American Red Cross, and the Environmental Task Force offer free movies and activities during the week and weekend…”

“Volunteer at tourist events, such as the Monterey Jazz Festival and Wine Tasting Weekend. By volunteering, the sponsor will often provide you with a free admission ticket.”

“The aquarium usually costs $20 per person; however, they offer one week in December which is free to everyone living in Monterey County, with proof of residence.”

“Peter B’s Happy Hour: You can’t beat this happy hour. Featuring a wide selection of appetizers for a few dollars each, and don’t forget the $2.50 beer.”

Groceries

“…arrive at the Farmer’s Market right at closing time, and many food vendors give away or discount their remaining food.”

“Check out the Produce Market, a small, well-priced store on North Freemont Street.”

“Save coupons until the item goes on sale, then receive the coupon discount in addition to the sale price, which will often save 50% or more on the item.”

“…shopping in ethnic grocery stores is the cheapest place to find rice, curry pastes, etc.”

“What about those Starbucks lattes, macchiatos, and mochas? You can make those at home…All you need is a French press ($20), milk foamer ($10) and some great coffee ($6). Add some cocoa or caramel syrup to your espresso before adding the foamed milk and voila! Fun under $40 (that’s about 10 Starbucks mochas) you’ve invested in your coffee drinking for the duration of your time at MIIS…”

Bills (Ya know, the one’s you have to pay!)

“… to those who have just arrived in this country but have no cell phone to make local calls. You should download Skype. Then you can make free phone calls in the US with this software. It helped me a lot when I first arrived here.”

“Share a wireless internet signal (and monthly cost) with immediate neighbors.”

“Everyone at MIIS has a unique ability or talent that someone in the area could benefit from: tutoring, offering language practice or lessons.”

“[Use alternative rates on utilities] PG&E’s California Alternative Rates for Energy (CARE) Program offers a 20% discount on your energy bill.”

“Study at the library rather than at home. Not only will the distractions be less but your lights are off and your laptop is plugged in somewhere else.”

Wine and Dine Your Valentine

Being a student and living on a student budget does not mean that you should hide from Cupid and lock yourself in your room this Valentine’s Day.

Instead Valentine’s Day this year can be about creativity, adventure, and romance. We have suggestions for some inexpensive ways to express yourself without emtying your piggy bank. And trust us, your date will have fun!

Nature

Take a blanket and head to Carmel State beach to watch the sunset. Pack a picnic basket with some cheese, a baguette, and a bottle of wine from Trader Joe’s. Check the time the sun sets and get there at least half an hour early so you don’t miss it!
Bring a blanket, firewood, and matches for a bonfire. Oh yeah, and whatever you do, don’t forget the makings for smores!

Be an artist for the day at Big Sur. There are a variety of trails from Highway 1 down to the beach. Draw or photograph the view with your date. Get some great shots of each other among the redwoods, waterfalls, and the beach. Print the photos and make a memory album.

Visit the animals at the SPCA. Even if you are not in the mental or financial place to adopt, you can still go to pet the animals and give them some love.

Culture

Attend a play or musical production at Monterey Peninsula College. View their calendar of events.

Check out the art galleries in Carmel together. There are probably a dozen or so on Ocean Avenue and surrounding streets. Then stop by The Cheese Shop in the Carmel Plaza. Pick your favorite cheese and buy enough for the two of you to enjoy. OR Spend the afternoon at The Monterey Museum of Modern Art on Pacific Street. Admission is only $2.50 for students and $5.00 for non-students.

Go to Borders in Seaside for a poetry reading or a lecture by an author. While you’re at it grab a coffee, your favorite magazine, and cozy up for an hour in their cushy chairs.

Skip the high price of the movie theater and rent a video. Theaters charge $9.00 per ticket, Blockbuster charges $3.99 per video. That’s a savings of $13 on two tickets. And that’s not even including the savings in popcorn, soda, and candy costs. Need a few movie ideas…try a romantic comedy such as America’s Sweetheart, Bridget Jones Diary, Love Actually, or French Kiss.

Food

Setup the fondue set. Fondue can be quite romantic. Gather pillows around a coffee table. Pop a disc of Sinatra into your stereo, light those candles.

Catch Happy Hour at El Torrito on Cannery Row. Grab a window booth and watch the waves crash as you sip raspberry margaritas. Appetizers are 50% off until 8pm on Monday-Fridays and margaritas are under $3.00.

Check out Taste of Monterey on Cannery Row for wine tasting. For only $5 you can taste 10 different local wines. Plus the view is absolutely breathtaking!

Meet for brunch at your favorite public bench. On the way, stop by the bagel bakery for a couple of bagels and two coffees. Pick up a coast weekly at the paper stand in the bakery, they’re free! Browse the paper for the weekly horoscopes and see if you and your date’s signs align.

Feeling more like dessert? Instead of going out to a restaurant for dinner, go only for a nice dessert and coffee. Tarpy’s and Rosine’s are two excellent places to go for dessert.

Make a romantic pasta dinner. To help set the mood, play some Italian opera (if you don’t have Italian opera CDs around, try checking the local library), and light some candles. After dinner, relax with a romantic Italian film or the classic “Lady and the Tramp.”

Eating Well

farmers-market Food can take quite a bite out of your budget. Improve your budget by making smarter choices and having a plan:

  • Don’t throw away leftovers – add them to a new meal the next day or freeze it for later.
  • Eat before you go to the grocery store and use a list – you will spend much less!
  • Fast food seems cheap and convenient, but spending $6 a day can add up quickly. Instead, bring your lunch/make spaghetti. For the same $6, you can have several meals from one big pot of homemade spaghetti.
  • You pay more to buy “prepared” foods, such as marinated chicken breasts or pre-washed & torn lettuce. Would you pay someone $3 to wash and chop your salads for you? Because that’s what you’ll pay if you buy a bagged salad mix instead of a head of lettuce.
  • Try to go Vegetarian 3 times a week. Meat can be a big ticket item. Think of some alternative ways to get protein (i.e. make a baked potato with vegetables and cottage cheese, or make a stir fry with tofu or soybeans—Costco sells a huge bag of stir fry vegetables for about $7 and it has soybeans already in it!!) You can make a can of soup really hearty by adding veggies and rice. A 3lb bag of rice is about $4, which comes out to $0.08 an ounce!

Tips to Save

Here are a few tips for managing your budget:

coffeemaker

Invest in a coffee-maker!

Buy in Bulk: There is a Costco card available at Student Services for a $10 deposit. Coordinate with friends and share the low costs of groceries. You can’t beat some of these prices.

Shop at Discount Stores: The Grocery Outlet, located in Marina (10 Miles North), offers discounts on foods and general household goods.

Take Advantage of Special Offers: Utility companies grant reduced prices for lower income households. Contact PG&E or Pacific Bell to see if you qualify.

Purchase the Sunday Paper for $1.50. It is full of grocery ads and coupons that can save you more than the price of the paper. Check for buy one get one free deals at Safeway and Albertson’s for items that you regularly purchase.