Keeping that New Year’s Resolution: College Budget Edition

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It’s almost 10 days into the New Year! Many people who started the year off right with new resolutions are in full swing keeping up with a schedule to reach their goal. Sometimes though, goals are a bit tricky to reach due to outside influences. For those who are trying to be more healthy and go to the gym, eat right, etc it can often be difficult to keep a healthy schedule when working a full day, attending a full day of classes, or not having enough resources around them (like in your residence hall). If you’re trying hard to keep your resolutions, here’s 5 tips that may make your efforts a little bit easier!

Transitioning to a healthy lifestyle: Eating healthy can be expensive. Going to the gym everyday is a bit impractical with a day full of classes and a night full of studying. Most residence halls don’t come equipped with stoves and ovens. If you’re trying really hard to live a more healthy lifestyle while living on campus, you may have noticed these pointers as well as a few others that may deter you from reaching your goal. The key here is to not get discouraged, but instead get creative! Yes, eating healthy CAN be expensive but if you find the right things to buy and where you can maintain a healthy diet on a college budget.

If you haven’t read our past blog on eating healthy on campus, you should definitely start your research there. In addition to the healthy (and inexpensive) foods listed in that blog, you can also pick up coupons for your local grocery store to buy 1 get 1, or even with items discounted for local college students. Items such as rotisserie chickens are a great resource for protein and they can last you for quite a few meals. Chicken sandwich, chicken salad, wraps, etc can all be made from one chicken that usually is priced around $8.00. Pair this with some carrots and hummus and you’re set to go! For getting healthy via physical activity, try walking to class if you usually drive. This may not apply to early year students since they usually leave their cars at home when they go off to college but if you’re one of the lucky ones who DOES have your car on campus, try substituting walking to class twice a week to start instead of driving. Also, try to take the stairs to your class on the 6th floor instead of the elevator. Yes, you may get a little sweaty at first, and yes people may hear you huffing and puffing for the first 5 minutes of class but that will quickly change when your body gets used to all of the activity. And, you’ll feel much better, too!

In addition to eating right and getting active, try to get out in the sun for at least 10 minutes a day! This should be easy if you’re walking to campus, but the Vitamin D from the sun will boost your mood and give you more energy. For cooking in your residence hall, there are plenty of delicious microwave meals you can make that aren’t full of processed additives and still delicious and inexpensive! Check out a few in our last blog or check out our Pinterest board of healthy items to eat and make on campus!

Cutting Out Bad Habits: There’s really no need to pinpoint any specific “bad habit” here, because they vary so differently from person to person. Maybe you want to do something small such as stop biting your nails down to the nub or maybe something a bit bigger like stop smoking or drinking soda. Bad habits quickly become an everyday part of our daily routines, so in order to cut them out, you must substitute them for something else. The important thing is to replace them with something healthy and helpful, and not harmful. For example, if you constantly bite your nails but want to stop, every single time you go to bite them, instead drop a marble into a jar (or keep them in a pouch in your purse or pocket until you get home). Once you get a certain amount of marbles, go buy yourself something nice or reward yourself with your favorite food, movie, etc. It may sound silly, but watching those marbles collect in the jar is a wonderful way to remind yourself of your progress every day. As for things like drinking soda, try to replace them with fruit juices that give you natural energy, or teas such as chamomile or green tea. They’re healthier for you, and even come in caffeinated versions. And, with Keurigs around these days, a cup of hot, delicious tea is only a press of a button away!

Being Nicer: You’d be surprised how many people have told me this New Year that their New Year’s Resolution was to be a nicer person. Let’s be honest here, sometimes our schedules can get a little hairy with little to no sleep, jobs, classes, work, gym, family, friends.. you name it. A packed schedule can often lead people stressed and lacking some nutrients and sleep. Therefor, people tend to be a bit more on edge and more apt to take it out on other people without even realizing it. The first step to being a nice person is making sure you’re not packing your days with things that drain you. If you feel like your schedule is all work and no play, start setting aside some time for yourself to just unwind and relax. Maybe this means just sitting in the campus courtyard with your earphones on for 20 minutes between classes or going shopping on your own. Whatever it is, having some time to yourself is a great way to do some internal reflecting without stressful interactions. And, with living on campus with a roommate around you all the time, some time alone could be really needed. Another reason why people are often on edge is because they can’t turn off their brain! Once you leave work or class, try to leave the things that you can deal with the next day at those places. Coming home with the stress from work or school (not applying to homework and projects) will just make you more tired! Try to get away for a little and relax your mind with yoga or a nap. The third step is to be mindful of how you talk and interact with people. You may not even realize that your quick 1 minute conversation as your running from class to class with a friend comes off hasty or rude. Going to class is important, but let them know you’re interested in talking to them at a time when you aren’t so rushed to get to class – they’ll understand, and it may even give you some time to catch up and hang out later on.

Being Financially Responsible: This is hard for any college student to maintain. If you haven’t already read our blog about college finances and FAFSA, head here to take a skim. College can be expensive, and learning to live on your own away from home can often be a test of your financial responsibility. It’s often hard trying to learn to budget your money while you’re also stressed out about classes and things that you need vs things that you want. It’s often hard for students who are used to being at home where things like laundry detergent and cups, blankets, etc are supplied to being on campus and learning to budget money to buy what they need. If your schedule of classes permits, try to find a job on or near campus that allows you to work anywhere from 15-20 hours per week. This will give you a little extra spending money in your pocket that will teach you to budget a certain portion of each paycheck and divide your limit on things that you want to buy like clothes, vs things you need to buy such as toothpaste, toilet paper, etc. If you have trouble with not spending money when you have it, set up a savings account and put a portion of it in that account right when you get it. That way, you can feel secure knowing you have money that you aren’t to touch unless needed. Also try to watch what you’re spending money on. Going out to eat can be expensive even if it’s $5.00 here and $5.00 there. If you have dining hall tickets, eat there as much as possible to save any extra money you have laying around. Chances are your parents paid for you to have a package, and the food will be conveniently located on campus for you to grab. Now girls, I understand that buying new clothes and accessories is always exciting to wear to classes or out with friends. If you don’t have the money to spend on new threads, try having a clothing swap with your roommate or friends on campus. They may have things they don’t wear anymore and would love to have some of the things you push into the back of your closet. Also try to find stores around you like Ross or TjMaxx: you’d be surprised what things you could find in those stores that are both fashionable and inexpensive!

Getting Better Grades: Obviously no one WANTS to get bad grades (I would hope), but with stress and hard classes, sometimes you can’t maintain that 4.0 you dreamed about. If you’re returning back to campus and already know that your grades didn’t come out the way you had hoped the previous semester, take this into consideration and look to find a tutor on campus or someone that can help you in the subjects you struggle with. There are plenty of groups and organizations on campus that offer tutoring sessions to students who are struggling just like you are. Don’t be embarrassed about getting help. Instead, use the extra help to your advantage and get a head start on your academics as a step to improving your grades. Try to locate any distractions outside of class that prevent you from concentrating or studying. If you feel like you study for hours but still can’t grasp the material, you may not be studying in the most effective way per your learning habits. If you haven’t read our blog on study tips, head there for a must read on 5 crucial tips to find what works for you. The key component to studying and getting good grades is to really put the effort in and study hard. Read the material, do your assignments (even if they seem like “busy work”), and ask for help when you need it. Most concepts follow a “building block” procedure. Don’t allow yourself to fall behind by moving onto the next concept without understanding the first. Your professor is sure to have office hours where you can visit them and go over topics you don’t understand. If you feel like you can’t hear well in the lecture hall or can’t see the board, make it your responsibility to find a seat right in the front of the class with a cup of coffee or tea. Staying alert, awake and concentrated is a formula to success!

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OCM Staff
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