While saving money and learning to budget is important to any college student, it’s especially challenging for a new student at Wake Forest, one of the most expensive schools in the country.
Many students dress up for class and the new Wake Downtown satellite campus and its shuttle connect students with more opportunities than ever to spend money dining out.
It’s easy to get burned out on campus dining options, and sometimes, Work Forest will drive you off campus seeking a mental break, but with textbook expenses coming twice a year and student loans looming overhead, it’s hard to balance everything you want to do with everything you need and can afford. Who wants to say no when all their friends are going shopping, seeing a movie or going out for lunch?
Don’t resort to selling your plasma just yet, though! While that may be an easy way to support your lavish lifestyle while supporting a good cause, try cutting expenses first. Trade your Village Juice for Tropical Smoothie (the new location on University Parkway offers a $2 smoothie happy hour), and check out the tips below!
Shop in Cash
Even if you might have a convenient debit or credit card, those make it way too easy to swipe and overspend. If you only bring cash you need on your Target run to get cleaning supplies, you won’t be able to get the cute potholder from the bargain section.
Even if you’re tempted to reach into your wallet for more money, counting out bill after bill after bill feels more like spending than simply inserting your chip.
And if you feel like you just have to splurge on that face mask — you’re not sure exactly what blueberry antioxidants are supposed to do for the skin under your eyes, but you’re stressed and sleep deprived and it’s self care — treat yourself to a mask from the North Campus P.O.D., where you can spend the food dollars that you already have loaded onto your card on non-food items.
Take Advantage of Student Discounts
Student discounts are everywhere, so even if you aren’t sure that somewhere offers one, err on the side of caution and ask! Discounts are available at all area movie theaters, many grocery stores, several gas stations and numerous restaurants.
Spotify Premium is discounted if you sign up using your Wake Forest email address, and your Spotify account now connects you with a Hulu membership. Amazon Student is free if you sign up using your Wake Forest email, giving you access to free TV and movies, two-day shipping, textbook rentals and more. Tuesday nights are college night at the Airbound Trampoline Park if you show your student ID and wall-to-wall trampoline shenanigans with friends are a fun break from your usual fraternity basement rotation.
Many clothing stores in Hanes Mall also offer student discounts. Express, for example, has a year-round, 15 percent student discount and has clothes that are perfect for career fairs and job interviews or for your next fraternity formal.
For Groceries, Try Bargain Hunting
You might not need to buy many groceries during your first year, as getting off campus can be challenging, and it’s often easier and more convenient to grab a quick meal in the dining hall with the meal plan you’re already paying for than to cook in a shared kitchen space. And costs add up quickly — by the time you buy ingredients, cookware, dishware and other supplies, that homecooked specialty you were itching to make can really break the bank. Walmart’s Neighborhood Market is close and cheap, but with a little extra effort, Food Lion, which is even closer, may be more affordable. Sign up for their MVP card and download the Food Lion app to track sales, store coupons and earn extra discounts and savings. Plus, the MVP app connects with Ibotta, an app that allows you get cash back on your purchases simply by snapping a picture of your reciept.
Also, try shopping at German chains Aldi and Lidl — they’re smaller stores, but they have all the grocery necessities, including organic offerings, at the best prices in the area. Don’t forget to bring your own bags and boxes to carry your groceries in, though, as these cost extra. And don’t forget your Aldi quarter, a temporary deposit that allows you to check out a cart.
If you sign up for a VIP card at Harris Teeter, show your student ID and receive a 5 to 10 percent additional student discount every time you shop. Lowes Foods offers discounts as well. There are even ways to save at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Publix and The Fresh Market!
It›s easy to have information about coupons and weekly specials for a variety of stores sent to your phone, email or even your student mailbox. With an arsenal of multiple cards and apps, you can compare prices to ensure you always get the best deals.
And for Clothes, Try Thrifting
There are numerous boutique thrift stores downtown and off Stratford road, and there are two huge Mega Thrift locations in Winston-Salem — one’s walking distance from campus! There are also numerous Goodwill locations, including a large one on University Parkway, and check out Winston Salem Rescue Mission Thrift Store, too.
If you’re looking to trade in those old clothes you never wear before getting new ones, look no further than Uptown Cheapskate near Hanes Mall. If you drop off bags or bins of clothes before 4 p.m., they’ll go through them for you within a couple of hours and offer to buy your clothes for either cash or store credit. If there’s anything they can’t buy, they’ll return it to you or offer to donate it to Goodwill.
Find Less Expensive Ways to Get Around
Instead of paying for expensive rides through Uber and Lyft, try biking, carpooling or taking a shuttle. Wake offers shuttles downtown, to bars, to Hanes Mall, to stores like Lidl and Target and more. And once you’re off campus, try visiting one of the many free art galleries, parks historic areas or walking trails around Winston-Salem to save even more money on your next adventure.