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Budgeting Tips & Tricks

We polled our students here at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine for some of their most creative ways to reduce annual/monthly expenses. Below are some great ideas. 

  1. Cook in bulk and meal prep on weekends. Healthy, more affordable, and prevents you from defaulting to buying lunch at the hospital when you don't have time to pack. If you get sick of eating the same thing every day, pair up with a friend or two and share your prepped meals.  If you really want to eat out, limit it to once on the weekends.  Also, learn to use a crockpot if you are not expert at cooking. 
  2. Make lists (standardized grocery lists, etc.) and plan ahead. Helps you be more efficient in doing errands and prevents you from having to drive back and forth if you forgot something. Saves on time, gas, and money. Also prevents you from spending impulsively. 
  3. Make your own laundry detergent pods. There are many recipes online, including this one for how to make home cleaning products. It is a fun activity in which you can customize with your own fragrances. 
  4. Sell clothes you don't wear anymore on online resale sites (ex. Poshmark, Tradesy, etc.) or at consignment stores. Then use this money towards spending on new clothes to reduce spending in a way. 
  5. Sign up for ebates, but make sure you cancel Amazon prime membership or other unused recurring expenses.
  6. Limit drinks purchased at bars/restaurants or don’t drink alcohol at all.  When at home or at a friend’s house, make “virgin” cocktails such as daiquiris, margaritas, and other fruity cocktails that still taste great without the alcohol.  Don’t buy the expensive craft beers or buy wine at a winery. 
  7. Attend scholar lunches (FREE LUNCH!)
  8. Book flights well ahead of travel date and look for specials and discounts to save on travel expenses.  Check out Greyhound bus ticket prices.  
  9. Minimize your cost of living expenses by sharing apartment with a roommate/s or significant other.  If possible, live at home!
  10. Stay on your parent’s health insurance plan until age 26!
  11. Borrow textbooks and resources from library or upper-class students instead of purchasing new ones.  You can also opt-out of the VitalSource if you feel it is not useful.  
  12. Make homemade Christmas or birthday gifts!
  13. Shower at the gym to save water.
  14. Get cash back credit cards, but use them like debit cards (ie. Don’t spend more than you have).
  15. Ride a bike to school instead of driving a car.  If you need travel to/from Blacksburg, take the SMART bus or shuttle.  If you can, carpool with friends and colleagues.  
  16. Have date night at home and watch movies at home instead of in a theater.  
  17. Round up your friends, have a potluck dinner, and make some “take home” plates with the leftovers. 
  18. Apply to scholarships or submit requirements to be entered into one of the Financial Aid Tuition Remission drawings.