By Diane Pierre-Louis
The college years can be busy and stressful and it can often feel like an uphill battle to maintain a healthy lifestyle on a limited budget. You know the scenario: you stay out a little too late at a party and leave hungry, so you pick up a burger or order a pizza. Or perhaps you have to cram for a term paper, so you consume countless cups of coffee or cans of soda to stay alert.
Either way, you’re not doing your body – or mind – much good. And your budget is probably taking a hit as well as you skip from one unplanned fast-food meal to another.
In order to be successful in school, you need to be at the top of your game physically, mentally and emotionally. Sure, the temptations of college life can be hard to resist, but if you follow these tips for staying healthy on a limited budget, you should start to see positive changes in little to no time.
Cook Meals and Bring Snacks
It might seem as if it’s easy to live off convenience foods, prepackaged meals and caffeinated drinks. However, this habit is expensive and bad for your body. Instead, teach yourself how to plan and cook simple, healthy meals several times a week. A great rule of thumb is to stay as close to a food’s original form as possible; the longer the ingredient list, the worse the dish may be for you. Consider teaming up with friends for themed potlucks and cooking parties. Also, skip the vending machine candy bar or cup of coffee between classes; it’s cheaper and just as easy to stash your own energizing snacks (bananas, granola bars, trail mix, etc.) and fill a thermos of coffee to get you through a busy day.
Shop Smart and Use Coupons
Coupons are often overlooked as a great way to save money. Check the local newspaper on Sunday for coupons that can help bring your grocery costs down, particularly when buying nonperishable and household items. Be careful, though, of falling into the trap of using coupons for items you don’t actually need. And also be sure that the discounted price of the item is still lower than the store’s generic brand.
Get Some Exercise
We’ve all heard how working out benefits mind and body. The good news: college campuses are teeming with exercise options that are easy to incorporate into a busy schedule. Walk or ride your bike to class, find a running buddy in your dorm or join an intramural volleyball or flag football team. Having someone to work out with is a great motivator; if nothing else, it should make the prospect of a predawn gym session easier to handle.
With student discounts available, there should be little to no cost involved in getting enough exercise and the payoff can be huge.
Leave it Parked
If you have a car, leave it in the parking lot. Walk as much as possible and only use your car when it’s absolutely necessary – as a result, you’ll boost your health and your budget. If you’re the only one in your group with wheels, it’s time to practice saying “No,” unless you plan to collect gas money every time a friend needs a ride.
If you start by adopting this handful of healthy and budget-friendly habits, it won’t be long before you’re coming up with your own creative ways to save money and take care of yourself.
– This guest post was provided by Diane Pierre-Louis. Diane writes for U.S. News University Directory and covers topics related to Masters in Reading and Masters in Curriculum and Instruction programs.