Through the last year of my collegiate career, I have learned to evade starvation by budgeting money for food.
But not just any food, I want to budget for healthy food: the expensive stuff.
I have nothing against ramen noodles and cereal, but I want to buy healthy things I will benefit from with the money I am making.
Now my paychecks, like most college students, are inconsistent in total because I don’t always have time to work the same amount of hours. Because of this I have created a budget that will work on an income that fluctuates. This budget consists of four simple rules.
Rule One: Create a spending total per month.
Paychecks are normally distributed biweekly. So if you create a total amount for the month and split that between the two checks you will better manage the amount of money you are spending on groceries. Personally I have a total of $50 per month, but sometimes this can change depending on what I already have from the month before, or if I was gone for an extended period of time and need to restock my cupboards. I try to buy things that will last me two weeks at least and food items that are flexible so I can use them in multiple recipes. This creates a longer lifespan for the money that gets set aside.
Rule Two: Don’t buy in bulk (unless necessary).
It may seem like a good idea at the time, but the food items normally go bad before you have the chance to eat them. This causes you to waste money because you are throwing away what you spent it on. Now if this food item is something you eat a large quantity of or if it is something that doesn’t go bad for an extended period of time then go for it. I have found this to not be the case though most of the time.
Rule Three: Take advantage of deals, but be cautious.
College students are all about the best deal they can get. Say you are at the grocery store and there is a deal on pasta. Buy the extra box of pasta but be careful. Don’t overstock on something you don’t need. Yes, there are certain foods that “don’t go bad” but do you think that you will end up eating that certain thing after it’s been pushed to the back of your cupboard for a year? So, yes, take advantage of the deals you find when shopping but be aware of how much you are actually spending and saving compared to how much you actually need.
Rule Four: Don’t go out to eat.
Of the four rules in this budget, this one will always be the hardest for me, as well as most other college students. I understand. It’s so much easier to go somewhere and have another person make you food instead of making your own, but trust me when I say, this is not affecting your budget lightly. Going out to eat may be convenient but it is expensive. Even the dollar menu will add up. But as well as eating up all the cash in your wallet, going out to eat isn’t healthy. You are helping yourself out more if you just make your own dinner instead of heading over to Buffalo Wild Wings, Taco Bell, or the pizza place down the street.
Stick to these four simple rules and you should be able to eat what you want, when you want, without having to worry about money.