Because eating healthy doesn’t have to cost your entire paycheck!

The #NAUSocial team sat down with of our two interns to talk grocery budgeting while in college. Gabby, a senior, who is still getting the hang of it despite taking budgeting classes since fifth grade — and Carla, a sophomore, who did not know what she was in for, living off-campus her freshman year of college!

How would you describe your overall budgeting experience during your freshman year at NAU?

Carla:

Considering that I was a freshman in college, living on my own for the first time ever, I would say that my budgeting was alright, but definitely could have been better. It was really easy to get carried away with spending, because every little purchase really does stack up.

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As a senior, how would you describe your overall experience, Gabby?

Gabby:

I’ve learned to become more organized through the years, not just in college. I try to have a set amount set aside and plan two weeks ahead. If I go over one week, I can better budget for the next. And on the other hand, if I have some left that can be used in the next week. Of course My budget is always effected by my income which also comes around every two weeks so I try to line them up as much as I can.

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Is there anything that went wrong that you could learn from?

Carla:

When it came to grocery shopping, my roommate and I figured it might be strategic to buy in bulk from Sam’s Club. The mistake we made here was buying large amounts of produce and bread that went bad quickly. I am unsure as to why we assumed we would eat that much, but our mothers were convinced that we would need it. They had never been more wrong. While we were lucky to have their guidance, they are accustomed to grocery shopping for families, which is totally different from shopping that two very busy college students would do.

It is very easy to get lazy, especially with school work loads, so we unfortunately spent copious amounts of money eating out. Something that I have started doing this summer though, is taking two days out of my week to meal prep for the rest of the week. Sometimes it is okay to eat out, but it is better to spend money on groceries that will last longer and provide more than one meal.

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What tips have you learned for budgeting for grocery shopping?

Gabby:

When I comes to grocery shopping, I do the usual tips most people have heard of. Make a list, find coupons, look for sales. However, another thing I like to do is try to only have one trip a week. It can be easy if you run out of milk or eggs to go to the store and pick some up. This can stack up purchases and make it harder to keep track. I personally try to accept that I may need to go a day or two without milk to keep myself organized.

Carla:

We learned that when grocery shopping, it is also easy to be tempted to buy sweets and junk food. This is where smart budgeting comes to play; like Gabby said, make a list before heading to the store. My mom always taught me to check grocery newsletters to see what was decently priced and where. Follow those sales and have a designated list for each store and try to not stray away from it. If you have a total amount that you don’t want to exceed, base your list off of that and only buy the necessities.

If you are big on coffee (like my roommate), I would suggest investing in a Keurig. My roomie found herself buying Starbucks or DutchBros nearly everyday; sometimes more than once a day. This would leave her without money for things she actually needed. Do not be like her, haha. We now have a Keurig, though, so her Starbucks/Dutch tendencies have subsided.

Parting Advice

  1. Make a list before heading to the store.
  2. Look for coupons and sales.
  3. Avoid spending money on fast food. Those $5–10 purchases seem cheap at first, but will eventually accumulate. It could also become a bad habit.
  4. Target your weaknesses and come up with a more beneficial option. If you really love coffee, try making your own at home.
  5. Plan 1 or 2 trips weekly. Avoid going out every time you need something, because that will lead to unnecessary purchases.

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