Spending Money On Campus Food

We all know we shouldn’t do it and yet we still do.  We’ve seen the people on TV say that this is how they got into debt and we read the “Top 10 Tips For Getting Out of Debt” column that says not to do it – but we still do.  It’s just that it’s so easy not to make lunch in the morning, and then at night there are so many other things to do.  Hey, it’s just going to happen this one time anyway right?e

Doesn’t “Brown Bagging” Even Sound Boring?

Brown bagging it to work most days and not succumbing to the latte factor are two of the easiest and most recommended ways to cut back on your daily, weekly, and monthly expenses.  Most of us realize that this stuff probably adds up sooner or later, but how much can it really be?  I mean that sandwich was only a few bucks, and if a person can’t afford a good cup of coffee then what are they working for anyway right?  So why do we  do this…

Now, it’s bad enough when the average person wonders down to their cafeteria for the special a few times a week or grabs a coffee out of the vending machine (gross).  Post-secondary campuses take the mission of emptying your wallet to a whole other level though.  The reason that campus food providers are able to be so ruthlessly effective is that they are often controlled by a campus monopoly on food where one company gets to set the prices and service level across campus.  If I’m being honest this system drained way more of my money than it should’ve.  Laziness and greasy good are a great combination… for your taste buds and their bottom line anyway.

Bad For Your Wallet and Waistline

In addition to draining your wallet through increased prices (if you think the food companies haven’t specifically figured out at what price point students will finally be motivated to leave campus for a lower price option – and then charged 10 cents below that threshold – you’re kidding yourself), campus food is usually terribly unhealthy.  There is no profit in serving healthy options that people will not be lured in by (or at least few profits).  Even the salads I saw during my time on campus had so much stuff added to them and came with monster packets of dressing in order to hit people with the idea that they were eating healthy while at the same time tantalizing their taste receptors.

Believe it or not this stuff does add up.  Anytime you talk to a financial advisor or someone who markets themselves as a budgeting guru they will tell you that the first thing you should do is find out where that hole in your budget is going to.  You see when most people total up their bills at the end of the month they should have a lot more money left over than the majority of people do.  Sure, rent, utilities, car payments and all that other good stuff aren’t cheap, but most Canadians have no idea how many luxury purchases or impulse buys they make on a daily basis.  Students are not exempt from these trends, and given how little experience most of us have handling money and the fact that student loans seem like they fall from the sky when your 18, it is no wonder we can’t make savvy financial choices.  Try actually recording what you purchase everyday and I bet most of you will be shocked at how much pocket money actually flows through those pockets of yours.

Pay Now AND Pat Later!

You know what’s worse that a $5.00 mocha-frappa-grandi/venti/vinni-viddi-vicci drink from Starbucks?  Paying interest on that $.05 cup of coffee with $.20 of milk in it.  When you spend $200 a month on campus food and beverages (not nearly as uncommon as you might guess) that is $1600 of your student loan money in an 8-month school year.  If you do that for 4-5 years, now you’ve locked yourself in to paying for those status-improving cups of coffee in addition to the slices of piazza and energy drinks for the first ten years of your working life.  Still think that brown bag full of cheap (or even free if you live at home) food isn’t sexy?

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Honestly this a great post. It’s often necessary to scare students into not buying their coffee’s and/or other foods on campus since clearly these costs add up quickly. The “Pay now pat later” section was great, hopefully more students read this and decide to stop eating on campus, or drastically reducing this amount.

Jamie

It is very easy to buy campus food in American schools. Your student loan money goes on a card that you can use on campus. Financing expensive food usually is not a good investment to make. I survived college on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and saved a lot of money by doing it.

I was one of those college freshmen who LIVED on Ramen noodles, which I cooked in this crazy electric water heater that was most definitely illegal in my campus dorm room!

Great post! I also hope that many students will get to read this article and realize how much money they can save if they would just bring their own food to school. When I was in college, I didn’t save money, but i did have a “meal plan” built into my tuition.

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