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20.11.09

You, Your Fitness, and Your Money

Joining a gym is not a decision you should take lightly—especially since it affects your wallet. Fitness centers come in all shapes, sizes and price ranges, offering everything from basic workout equipment to upgrades like massages, tanning, and even laundry service! But most of us are pinching our pennies and stretching our dollars these days, so you may think that a gym membership is unaffordable. Don't throw in the (sweaty) towel just yet! I have some money-saving ideas that will help your cut your membership costs. As a trainer and wellness coordinator, I spent several years working in public and private fitness centers, so I know all the secrets! Here are 10 insider tips to getting a good deal while keeping a little more money in your pocket!

Shop during the Slow Season
When looking to purchase a membership, consider the time of year. Thanks to New Year's resolutions, gift certificates, and renewed resolve, the first few months of the year are the busiest—and best—times to be a membership director. Similarly, the colder months are also busier than warmer months because people can't exercise outside. Because they're selling so many memberships, gyms don't need your money and they're less likely to cut you a deal. But the opposite is also true: Membership slides during the summer and toward the end of the year, so that is the best time to make your move. Look for specials and discounts at this time, and don't be afraid to ask for a better deal.

Join at the End of the Month
Gyms and fitness centers typically have membership goals for each month. They want to gain new members and retain the ones they have. At the first of the month, these sales goals don't seem as daunting to employees as they do in the last week of the month. So go at the end of the month, when most gyms are willing to make a deal with you so they can hit their goals!

Check Out the Competition
In most cities, there is more than one game in town, so shop around to find out what each gym has to offer. Once you have narrowed the list down to the places you like, go to each gym and speak to the individual responsible for memberships. Explain what you want and what you've seen at the other gyms you visited. (Make sure you are looking at comparable facilities when you do this.) If there is a difference in price, ask if they would meet or beat the monthly fees of their competitors. If they cannot beat the monthly fee, find out what they are willing to offer you instead. Don’t do this over the phone. When you meet in person, it will be more difficult for them to watch you walk out if you can’t strike a deal.

Strip Off the Extras
Many facilities offer a one-price-for-all structure. For example, your monthly fee includes the use of the gym, locker rooms, childcare and group fitness classes. If you don't have children, you won’t have any use for the childcare. If group fitness classes are not your cup of tea, you don't want to pay for something you aren't going to use, right? Explain this when talking about the membership fee with a staff person and see if you can strike a better deal.

Avoid the Contract Agreement
Many gyms require you to sign a contract (often called “an agreement”) that may lock you into a long-term membership that lasts several months, one year, or longer. When you sign a contract, you are, in essence, agreeing to pay the monthly fee whether or not you're happy or using the gym at all. My first advice is to avoid the contract if possible. Once you sign a contract, it can be very difficult to cancel if you don’t like or use the facility, if you're unable to pay your fees, or even if you move farther away. If your gym does require a contract, make sure you understand what you are agreeing to before you sign it. Also, opt for signing a shorter-term agreement even if it costs a few dollars more. You may save money in the end by not being stuck paying for a gym you don't use. If you can't agree to their contract terms, ask to write in your own exit strategy. As with all things, make sure to get it in writing, get it signed by both parties, and keep a copy for yourself.

Get Out of Your Gym Contract
So maybe you didn't read my advice above until it was too late! Luckily, there are some stipulations that will typically allow you to exit most membership contracts. One option is moving outside your gym's contract-stipulated radius to the club (and its affiliates), which usually requires proof of an address change. Another would be a health/medical reason that prohibits you from using the facility, which usually requires a note from a physician. These are not absolutes, however, as many clubs come up with their own stipulations. What you should never do is cancel the credit card or bank account from which your monthly dues are deducted—that can lead to even higher collection fees later on.

Be Honest about Your Budget
Let’s say that you have found "the one!" This is the gym for you—it has everything you need, where you need it. The only problem is that the fees are just beyond your budget. Sit down with a staff person and explain your situation. Tell them what you can afford. You might be surprised to find out that they may help. The YMCA is great about this! They have financial assistance at many locations and never turn away a member who can't afford to pay.

Work With Your Employer
Employers today are facing increasing healthcare costs and often want to improve employee health to reduce those costs. Check with your employer to see if they would consider subsidizing a portion of your gym membership fees. If you have a health savings account, find out if you can use that money to cover all or a portion of your gym membership as well. If your employer cannot or will not cover any of these costs, go straight to your co-workers. Find out how many are interesting in joining a local fitness center. Then go to that facility explaining that you could bring a few of your co-workers with you they may be willing to negotiate a lower monthly rate, such as a 10%-20% discount for everyone, depending on the number of people you bring in.

Don't Fall for "Good Deals" on Extras
When you're on a budget, it seems like a no-brainer to say no to extra costs like personal training, apparel, supplements, laundry, and tanning (which isn't good for you anyway). But salespeople at gyms will do anything to make you think these extras aren't just necessary but are also a good value. If you are not careful, it is easy to drop a lot of money each month with a few dollars here and a few dollars there. Skip the super protein smoothie or energy bar after your workout and go for a high quality meal at home. Double-check your gym bag for your water bottle to forgo buying $2 bottles of water at each visit. And before you sign a contract for personal training sessions, ask yourself, do I really need a personal trainer? Chances are, you don't.

Traveling? Put Your Membership on Hold
One thing I love about some gyms is that they will let you put your membership "on hold" for a short period. If you know that next month you will be out of town a lot and unable to go to the gym, ask if you can put it on hold for that month. Just remember to do this ahead of time, if possible. Don’t walk in after not using the gym for three months and ask for a refund or extension. Gyms are businesses too and a lack of motivation on your part does not necessitate a refund on their part.

Even though I have seen many of the above tips work firsthand, there are no magical spells that will make all of these suggestions work in your favor. Most importantly, honesty is the best policy when dealing with people—and that includes gym employees, managers and salespeople. If you can't afford the fees in the first place (or if you encounter financial hardship after signing on the dotted line), explain your situation. You may be surprised to find that many people are willing to try to help in some way. In the end, remember that you don't need a gym to get fit, but they do need your business, so find a compromise or deal that works for both of you!
17.11.09

Thanksgiving on the Cheap


When it comes to Thanksgiving, it's not just the calories and fat content that many of us have to worry about--it's the price. The average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $42.91, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. (That's good news! It marks a 4 percent decrease since last year.)

This time of year, the added cost of a huge meal for the entire family can be intimidating. While we want to entertain our loved ones and give them a tasty, nutritious and bountiful spread, we also need to be able to keep food on the table for the rest of the month.

We know that for many of us, Thanksgiving is the beginning of a long--and often expensive--holiday season. We embrace frugal living and know you do, too. So we've asked readers, SparkPeople experts and few dietitians to share tips on how they save money on their Turkey Day dinner. We've got dozens of ideas to help you save money from Thanksgiving through the New Year.



Turkey

* Most cooks today are inexperienced at cooking a fresh from the farm bird. Unless you know what you are doing, stick to a name brand, pre-basted bird with a built-in thermometer, and buy it on sale. For those experienced cooks…yes, they can adventure into the world of grandma-style turkey roasting.
SparkPeople Head Dietitian Becky Hand, Registered and Licensed Dietitian

* Buy two turkeys when the Thanksgiving turkeys go on sale. Freeze it for a December holiday meal or for all your soups for winter.
Meg Galvin, Master Chef and Healthy Recipe Developer

* Consult a turkey buying chart so you know how much to buy. Factor in the desired amount of leftovers. If no one likes dark meat, then it is a better buy to get just a breast (yes, it costs more, but there will be less waste, in the long run).
Becky

* Now’s the time to clean out your freezer, and make room for that second turkey—it will keep for a good year. Also, budget time and space for turkey casseroles and soups—at these prices, you can’t lose by investing now.
Susan Burke March MS, RD, LD/N, CDE


* Bone-in turkey breasts or turkey rolls offer more protein/meat for your dollar compared to whole turkeys which typically only yield about 40% meat/pound purchased. If you use the remaining bones/carcass to make soup stock, it may be worth it to purchase the entire bird on sale but if you tend to just throw them all away when the carving is finished, you will get more for your money from the other options.
Tanya Jolliffe, SparkPeople Healthy Eating Expert and Community Moderator

* If you do buy a turkey breast, buy one that still has the breast bone in it. It's much cheaper. Then use the bone for making stock.
Meg

* Prices for turkey are competitive, so be on the lookout for coupons and specials, especially as we get closer to the holiday. Turkey lovers! Now is the time to buy three—cook one for Thanksgiving, use one for soup and casseroles to make and freeze while the price is right. Freeze the third for another holiday or family meal.
Susan Burke March





Sides

* I start saving my bread crusts and the last slice or two of the loaf for stuffing the turkey about 2 or 3 months before the holiday. I toast the slices on a light to medium setting on the toaster to dry out the bread without making it too crispy, then crumble or tear it into small pieces and keep in a bag until time to prepare the dressing. We feed about 20 or more people every holiday, and with 3 families saving the bread that would otherwise go to waste, we rarely have to purchase any bread or stuffing mixes.
LadyFolder

* The bread ends or "heels" can be saved for weeks in a bag in the freezer. Several days before your big meal, remove them from the freezer and use them to make your stuffing.
Tanya

* Reach for real: homemade stuffing, mashed potatoes, pie/cobbler are much less expensive than the boxed, instant or pre-made varieties. Call in the troops (partner and children) to peel potatoes, tear the bread, cut fresh green beans, etc.
Becky

* Use the KISS method and Keep It (the menu) Simple. You don’t need four different types of salads, two types of stuffing, etc. Don’t make cranberry salad if the majority of folks don’t even like it. Stick to the basics-- food items that you are comfortable making, and make those items HIGH Quality.
Becky

* Sweet potatoes are a Thanksgiving favorite that I love all year round. Scrub and prick them, then bake or microwave (wrapped in a damp paper towel) until just soft, about 4-5 minutes then turn over and repeat. Let cool until you can handle, split down the middle, brush with olive or canola oil and place under broiler until just toasty-topped. Serve with crushed, unsweetened pineapple.
Susan Burke March

* Many family favorites are not only costly but also high in calories, fat and sodium. Consider making this the year to make some changes and go with basics. For example, instead of super mashed potatoes filled with cream cheese and sour cream, try baking small red potatoes instead. Instead of the sweet potato casserole, go with simple baked sweet potatoes instead. Broccoli, rice and cheese casserole could easily become steamed broccoli and green bean casserole could easily become cooked green beans with almond slivers.
Tanya

* Seasonal fruits and vegetables are the most economical and ecological. Save dollars on local produce, as well as lower the impact on the environment instead of buying produce that’s been shipped from miles away.
Susan Burke March

* I like to prepare some of my foods (i.e. sweet potato pie or casserole) in the summer/fall when the produce is cheap and plentiful). I also try to buy up a lot of the veggies when they are at the least expensive, and then freeze them, or parboil them, or make a casserole or dish out of them and then freeze it.
1888Michelle

* Use frozen veggies and fruits (like cranberries) to make your family's favorite dishes. Canned veggies/beans can be used, but rinse them to remove excess salt.
Tanya





Sweets and desserts

* Save butter wrappers to coat pans that need to be greased- the amount of butter is minimal.
Chef Meg

* I make my list of what cookies I will make for xmas at the end of Oct. And each week I pick up a ingredent I will need till I start making cookies and put it aside. When the time comes I just pull those ingredents and start baking.
FREEM06

* My mom used to make six different kinds of pie--each person has a favorite. Now, we make just one or two kinds of pies. Apple and pumpkin are easy to make--and they're affordable. Make just enough pie for everyone to have one (or two) slices.
Stepfanie Romine, dailySpark editor

* Making cookie dough ahead and freezing it saves time and money. I can freeze the individual balls of dough and only take out the amount that I need. Also, it saves time when I'm ready to bake to have the dough ready to use. This prevents the temptation of buying the "ready to bake" dough in the grocery store. Bread is another item that I can make ahead from scratch and can freeze easily for a month or two.
STORMTMB

* Skip the whipped topping and whipped cream in a can. Make your own for a fraction of the cost--or skip it altogether and let the pie's natural flavors shine through.
Stepf





Drinks

* Make it a BYOB---the alcohol is expensive, so let everyone share the cost by bringing their preferred drink of choice.
Becky

* Make flavored ice cubes from juices instead of buying soda or expensive beverages.
Chef Meg

* Provide a simple punch for all do enjoy…this cuts back on the individual cans, bottles, juice pouches, Provide a punch, tea, hot coffee, hot tea, or hot apple cider drink for all to enjoy.
Becky





Snacks

* We usually do road trips for our holidays and stay in regular motels around the countryside. We now carry my own breakfast with us so we don't get trapped into starting the day with unhealthy fatty buffet breakfasts. We have a a cooler in the car and refreeze the icepack overnight so our food stays fresh and cold the next day. This is also great for carrying fruit and yogurt to eat on the drive instead of snacking on sweets. This also keeps us alert for the day and we aren't sitting in the car full of heavy food, We have yogurt, good cereal and buy fresh fruit daily. We keep nuts and dried fruits and plenty of water in the car too.
SparkPeople member Maxine





Shopping

* This is a great time of year to stock up on nuts; pecans and almonds. Prices are usually the lowest of the year. Freeze what you won't use within two months.
Chef Meg

* I buy food and baking items at various locations, not just the grocery store. I look for the best prices at the big box stores, at the grocery stores, as well as stores like Aldi's that are "no frills" and at Farm and Fleet, a farm supply store, that has the best prices on bags of nuts.
STORMTMB

* Does the local farmers’ market have better prices?
Becky

* Learn your substitutes: Log on to your SparkPeople Resource Center, and click on Food Charts. Now you know what you can substitute within food groups for any favorite recipe, and make it even more interesting. For example, if your recipe calls for blueberries, if peaches are in season, substitute. Snap up "buy one, get one free" offers!
Susan Burke March

* I buy food and baking items at various locations, not just the grocery store. I look for the best prices at the big box stores, at the grocery stores, as well as stores like Aldi's that are "no frills" and at Farm and Fleet, a farm supply store, that has the best prices on bags of nuts.
STORMTMB

* Check for store coupons and specials during the holidays. Plan the menu now and when those spuds (green beans, etc) go on sale…grab them. Check out stores for day old bread sales and freeze it now for stuffing.
Becky

* Make a grocery and supply shopping list and “stick to it”. Then you won’t be tempted by fancy end of the aisle displays at the store. This holds true for food items and also decorations and table d├ęcor. Do you really need a new table centerpiece or Pilgrim candle holders?
Becky

* Based on what I need, I begin buying various staples in the fall, such as sugar, flour, baking chips, etc., to spread out the cost of the things I know I will need. This goes for canned and frozen foods as well. I have an extra refrigerator and freezer, so I can preserve some of these items for a length of time. STORMTMB

* Planning, planning, planning, and inventory. Make a concise list of what you need for the December holidays before cooking Thanksgiving dinner. As you’re cooking for Thanksgiving do an inventory. Did you find a bag of powdered sugar you didn’t know you had? Evaporated milk in the back of the cupboard? Finalize the shopping list and keep it on the fridge. While doing your regular shopping, keep the holiday list with you and watch for specials on the non-perishable items on your list. If you need flour and you see a coupon or loyalty card saving for 30 cents off a bag, buy it then but only buy what you need and don’t be afraid to buy generic which will often be on sale more often if it’s the store’s brand. And to help the especially calorie conscious – save your wallet and your healthy lifestyle by not over planning the cookies! How many cookies do friends and neighbors bring by around the holidays? Serve those at your holiday festivities and save on buying your own ingredients as well as your cookie dough intake!
gabika99

* I begin by working on a plan for the meals I will be hosting or to which I will be contributing. I also consider food gifts that I will be giving. I break it down by holiday, month, date, so I know what food items I need to have or make and when I need them. The master list is helpful for planning, especially when there are sales in the grocery and other stores.
STORMTMB

* Some recipes call for expensive macadamia nuts and cashews so choose more wallet-friendly walnuts, almonds and peanuts—they’re dramatically less expensive, very tasty, and offer similar nutritional value. The same goes for cooking oil; canola and regular olive oil are perfectly fine for cooking and salad dressings—and much less expensive than extra virgin.
Susan Burke March

* Also, in October and November, I look for ways to double a batch of whatever I am making for dinner. If the dish can be frozen, then it's a meal that I can pull out and warm up easily when I'm in a crunch. It saves me from buying take-out or delivery. I also benefit because the food is homemade and more nutritious.
STORMTMB





Entertaining

* We keep the old tradition of potluck alive. Each guest usually has a dish they're very good, love to make at or have a soft spot for. They bring that. My mother is a big contributor simply because locale deprives her of the chance to host the meal. She brings candied yams (everyone prefers her recipe) and some of her pies: apple for my older daughter, mince for herself and my youngest, and rum cream for the adults in general. My brother makes fantastic garlic mashed potatoes. My 82-year-old father-in-law brings cranberry sauce (because he likes to watch the little ones play with it as much as he likes to eat it) and my brother in law brings extra olives (because he knows he eats more of them than the rest of us). No matter what, no one pays for the whole meal!
FRANCLYN

* Make your own simmer pot by placing fruit skin in a saucepan with a cinnamon stick and cloves, simmer on low to make your whole house smell great- do this instead of buying expensive candles. Meg Can you and the children make the decorations? Go to the local library, check the craft books, and make it a simple, easy and fun family activity. Ideas: name cards, napkin rings, a simple centerpiece, etc. Check the second-hand store for items too.
Becky

* Decorate the center of the table with fruits of the season not flowers or decorate your table from the outside- Holley branches, twigs, rosemary.
Chef Meg

* Have someone else cook the meal. Splitting the cost between the members of a family can be a great way to reduce the financial impact on one family’s budget.
Debi Silber, MS, RD, WHC, The Mojo Coach

* Make your own gift tags--I make mine out of gingerbread.
Chef Meg

* Instead of a huge turkey and loads of side dishes, consider a turkey breast, fresh vegetables and one starchy side (potatoes OR stuffing instead of several versions of each). Keep the dishes that mean the most to you, and let go of the idea of an overflowing table.
Debi Silber

* Have each family member bring one dish to spread the cost around. Ask for specific contributions to avoid duplicates.
Debi Silber

* Make it a pitch-in meal and everyone can bring their favorite side dish. Becky Coordinate the side dishes or assign the side dishes so one does not end up with 3 green bean casseroles.
Becky

* Find a new holiday tradition instead of the big meal. Maybe you’ll all go volunteer at a homeless shelter. Maybe your family will spend the day at a museum. Maybe a neighborhood touch football tournament. Maybe a bike ride to admire the changing leaves or a walk to soak in all of the beautiful decorations. Instead of sitting around the table overstuffing yourselves, participating in an activity that celebrates your togetherness and the things you truly want to celebrate can save your wallet and your waistline.
Debi Silber
10.11.09

Saving money... Period

I have been wanting to do a post of epic proportions for a while. Hoping to gather some decent insight into the saving habits of other college aged bloggers, I scoured the internet. Not only was I disappointed with the results, but I was absolutely devastated to realize that there are so many college students who don't understand money. Don't understand the fundamentals of saving money. Don't understand the consequences of credit cards. Don't understand. Period.

A few blogs I ran across were of similar-aged college bloggers asking for savings advice. The advice they received were no-brainers.

Create a budget. Stick to the budget.

It took me a whole year to figure out my budget and it will take me longer to stick to it 100% every month.

So where's the middle ground? Where's the hope for the hopeless?

I think this comes with negotiating with youself. Figuring out, what you need to do and make sure those things are taken care of first. And then the things you want to do... Coming from a society of instant gratification it will definitely be harder to sacrifice certain trivial luxuries for other certain trivial luxuries, but those sacrifices have to be made.

Don't buy any new clothes this month so I can go out partying with the girls.

No matter how silly it may seem (and let me tell you re-reading it aloud, its very silly) that kind of a mentality will keep you out of debt and will help you save while sticking to your budget.

Although, budgets still don't make a lot of sense to me.

It doesn't make sense to budget $50 every month to clothes. How will that help me develop good spending habits if I'm alloting $50 a month to clothes? This far into my savings excursion, I'm still not seeing the sense in that.

Lets say I get paid $1000 every month. $200 towards rent, $200 towards car, $100 towards utilities and $100 towards insurance. That is a total of $600 with a remaining $300.

If I do a traditional budget, I would budget $100 to savings $100 to groceries, $80 to gas, $20 to personal care, $50 clothes, and $50 entertainment.

$50 a month on clothes is $600 a year. Assuming you don't buy a new wardrobe every season, using frugal methods (I've blogged enough about that) you can buy the seasonal necessities in one month and keep it lasting for the next three months. What happens to the remaining $80 you budgeted for clothes? Or the remaining $440 for the total year that wasn't spent?

It gets used up into something else which goes against all budgeting rules, especially Dave Ramsey's zero-balance, "every dollar has a name" philosophy. If every dollar has a name and forty of those dollars are named clothes, but I don't need new clothes, why name them that in the first place?

Why not name them all savings and budget on a short term basis with longterm goals?

Think about it. The $600 I budgeted for was for the "Need To's". I need to pay my rent or my landlord will kick me out. I need to pay for my car or it will be repossessed. If I take care of those and throw the rest of my check into savings, all of my dollars are then named Savings. Now all of my Mr. and Ms. Savings are living happily in my savings account.

I'm going to call it a Swinging Budget.

If my longterm goal is to have 3 months worth of savings in my savings account, then I create a budget that will help me obtain my longterm goal.

Having a swinging budget gives me the option to spend Ms. Savings on $50 clothes every month OR Mr. Savings on $50 entertainment every month, while leaving me $50 for my savings account each month. BUT since they're all named Savings, I might be less likely to spend my Savings Family until my savings goal is met. Not including them explicitly on my budget, allows me to spend more implicitly. And this method helps me to work on my negotiating and sacrificing.

What's in a name? Everything! Once you get started on your savings goals you'll be surprised how horrible you feel breaking up your savings family. The more you negotiate with yourself and the more sacrifices you make, the more you realize what was really important in the end.
3.11.09

10 Ways College Kids can Save and Go Green

Here’s a list of 10 tips for college students who want to go green and save money doing it.

1. Buy and sell used books. I still take college classes from time to time for professional development. I always buy my books used. I have better luck getting them used if I buy them online. I do a search for my books as soon as I am registered for class, that way I can buy my book and have it shipped to me in time for class. My biggest piece of advice is to sell your books at the end of the quarter/semester either online or to the local bookstore. Really. Unless you are in law or med school, you won’t use those old text books, especially when you can look up current information on the Internet. The old marketing books I saved and thought I was going to use as reference quickly became outdated doorstops a short time after I took the class. I should have sold them back when I had the chance.

2. If you have an all you can eat cafeteria make sure you eat all you take. Chances are your school cafeteria isn’t going to compost that food you left on your plate. Eat it. Don’t throw food away. If your school cafeteria doesn’t compost food waste, consider working with them, your university’s landscaping office and start one! It’s a great idea for service project for an on campus group and can be a resume builder for you.

3. Unplug electronics when you’re finished with them and turn off the lights as you leave a room. These little things really do add up. I didn’t think this was a big deal either until I did the 20% Energy Reduction Challenge Project. Once I started keep track of my electric usage I quickly found that if I made it a habit like putting my TV on a power strip and turning it off after I was finished made a big difference in my electric use and lowered my bill.

4. Use a book bag/backpack for small purchases instead of using a disposable plastic bag. Consider carrying a reusable bag for bigger purchases in your backpack. It can be a nifty fold up bag or just reuse a plastic grocery bag you already have.

5. Use last year’s/quarter’s/semester’s school supplies. Backpacks/book bags are pretty sturdy and can be used from one year to the next. If it’s ripped – see if someone can fix it for you if you can’t. I like to buy the big notebooks so I get two classes/quarters worth of notes from them. Yes, taking notes on a laptop would be even greener, but I don’t type that fast and the information seems to stick in my head better if I write it out long hand (your mileage may vary.) There are more environmentally friendly paper/pens/folders/notebooks, etc for sale now and if you can afford them, you may consider purchasing them.

6. Upgrade/repair electronics like computers, laptops, etc. first before buying new. Ask the store/service person if they can recycle the ewaste (spent video cards, laptop batteries, cell phones, etc) from the repair/upgrade for you. If they can’t, they may know someone who can.

7. Drink lower waste drinks. Try a glass of tap water, make a pitcher of drinks from powder/concentrate, or buy soda in 2 liter bottles instead of a six pack of cans or bottles. You can always put these items in a reusable water bottle so you have your favorite beverage in on the go low waste form while on campus. Many may say to ditch the soda altogether but let’s be realistic, some folks get their daily caffeine buzz from soda, not coffee or tea, especially during finals. If that’s the case, be a little more sensitive as to how many bottles/cans you are buying and recycle the empties, OK?

8. Recycle paper, glass, metal cans, plastic, ewaste, etc. through local programs. Don’t have a campus recycling program? Consider working with your college or university and starting one! It’s good for the environment, an excellent service project if you belong to a campus club or student organization, and an excellent resume builder.


9. Ditch the disposables. Try using rechargeable batteries, cleaning sponges/micro fiber cloths/rags instead of paper towels, bring your own travel mug to get coffee/tea at the campus coffee shop (some shops may even give you a discount!), etc.

10. Donate clothing, furniture, etc. when you move out of your dorm/house/apartment at the end of year instead of leaving it behind or tossing it in a dumpster. Some charities will pickup contributions if they are sizable. In that case, get together with friends and donate your items as a group. Your school may have a program that allows students to donate items before they move out, like Ohio State University. If you don’t have something like this at your school – start one! Again, it’s a wonderful idea for a service project and resume builder.

I admit some of these items involve spending some money such as buying a reusable coffee mug, rechargeable batteries, or water bottle. You might consider asking for these items as holiday or birthday gifts. You may be able to get some of these items through campus freebies.

These are some of the ways I tried to green my college experience and save money during college. What are your tips?