The Economista: Saving Money Under the Radar

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Welcome to The Economista! – a blog for those looking to successfully enjoy their time at Brown while on a budget. Learn new tips each week from  freshman blogger Elliot Weiss as we embark on a journey of fiscal responsibility,  free meals (yes – there is such a thing as a free lunch!), and plenty of inexpensive fun. Cheers!

Hi everyone! I first want to apologize to all of my dedicated readers for my mysterious two week hiatus. I spent the last week and a half in New York and have been super busy keeping up with all of my missed school work. But now I’m back. So for this week’s post, I decided to look into slightly more covert means for saving money around campus. Although everyone knows the basic tips and tricks, here are a few of the lesser known ways to save some serious cash:

  • Take bananas (and any other fruit) from the dining halls in very large stockpiles. Every time you swipe into one of the two dining halls (known by the Brown bourgeoisie as the Vernon-Woolley and the Refractory), you spend one meal credit (which equals $6.80) for essentially unlimited food. So after you’ve eaten your big, tasty, buffet style meal, why not take a few pieces of fruit for future breakfasts and snacks? I usually take about 6-7 bananas once every few days, while my roommate hoards apples for our fridge. Just make sure you eat it all before it goes bad!
  • Know your meal plan better than your phone number. I cannot stress how important it is to understand exactly how many meal credits and points you have allocated for the day/week/semester as well as how and when you can spend them all (for a detailed explanation of meal plans at Brown, take a look at my first blog post right here –> http://goo.gl/zav9hR). Be careful not to end up with a surplus or shortage of meal credits/points as both of these situations result in wasted money.
  • Be very wary of “thrift shops”, especially in slightly lesser known areas such as Wickenden Street. Although marketed as cool little places to buy an inexpensive pair of shoes or homemade Portuguese pastries (true story), these stores can very quickly empty your wallet with (mostly fulfilled) promises of cool, premium quality goods at (often unfulfilled) low prices. You should still definitely hit up the “thrift shop scene” in Providence, but just be careful not to overspend for your used leather vest (also a true story).
  • Also, watch out for chain stores. Thayer Street is full of plenty of amazing restaurants and local eateries such as Eastside Pockets (godly chicken kabob wraps), Mike’s Calzones (cheese-galore), and Bajas (fantastic fajitas), although also contains a few chain restaurants and stores such as Johnny Rockets and Urban Outfitters. Once again, everyone loves a 2 am Johnny Rockets Milkshake every once in a while, but just be careful not to spend your life savings on Urban Outfitters lipgloss (yet another true story… just kidding).
  • Finally, be generous! Although this tip doesn’t have much to do with saving money, I think it’s (quite possibly) the most important advice I can give you. Every day that I walk up and down Thayer Street, I encounter at least a handful of people in need of a bit of cash for transportation, food, or other basic necessities. I personally believe that even if you don’t have any loose change or small bills on you to donate (which you should try to give as much as you can), just a simple head nod and “hello” or “have a nice day” can really make someone else’s day much better, especially if they are already struggling to afford basic necessities. It’s honestly a very simple way to add some serious meaning to your life (specifically helpful for those moments when midterms and problem sets are seeming to take meaning away from your day-to-day life).

So, if there’s one thing you should remember from this blog post, it’s to be smart and clever about your money, but always remember that happiness, joy, and meaning are much more important (that’s not to say that you shouldn’t still take bananas from the V-dub). Have a great Monday everyone! Only a few more days until spring break, woooo!

If you have any additional questions, comments, concerns, or mildly amusing jokes to tell, please feel free to email me at elliot_weiss@brown.edu! Also, I always appreciate suggestions for future blog posts!

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