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  • Writer's pictureVeronica Irwin

Quick, simple tips to save money as a UC Berkeley student

Updated: Mar 25, 2020


The Daily Californian

Students at UC Berkeley are a diverse bunch, but we all have one thing in common: We will always nod and agree if a job interviewer says something congratulatory about having gone to the No. 1 public university in the world, and we will always insist (with evidence) that we deserve that title more than UCLA. But there are some other things we’re ranked No. 1 in that are often left unsaid — we have the best memes and the leading protest culture, and were ranked the most expensive college town last year. Let’s take a second to focus on that last one. If you do the math, that means most of us have experienced that moment when we check our bank accounts only to realize that we have a measly $0.67. So if you’re looking to save a quick buck, here are some of the best tried-and-true tactics from one UC Berkeley student to the next.

Attend networking events for free food and coffee

All right, you might have figured this out on day one of orientation when your group leader filled you in, but if you didn’t, check Facebook for all the events happening in Berkeley. If you’re not too swamped, a 45-minute info session can be worth the catering, and sometimes there are mixers where students can freely come and go. The ones to avoid, however, are events that include a long lecture (but don’t worry — if you don’t introduce yourself to anyone, nobody will care when you leave and never come back).

Mooch off the coffee and food at work

If you work around or on campus, chances are that there’s an office coffee maker. On a good day, your workplace might even have leftovers from a meeting or rejected orders if you work in food service. So make a habit of stopping by work for a “quick chat” over coffee before class and save the $4 you would have spent at Strada. If your boss is like mine, he’ll be impressed that you’re stopping by to say hello when you’re off the clock.

Scrounge around the various campus lost-and-founds

If you’re a regular, you’ll start to learn what’s been there forever and clearly will never be retrieved by its owner. Patagonia quarter-zip that’s been sitting in Doe for five months? Grab it. Undented Hydro Flask that’s been at work since you were hired? It’s yours now. Umbrella still in Dwinelle? If it hasn’t rained since your last midterm, just take it for later when it’s storming outside and every store is selling umbrellas for $25. Think ahead, people.

Befriend sorority girls and co-op residents who will invite you over for meals

Or if you’re an upperclassman, freshmen with meal points are essential resources. Some fraternity members and student groups get discounts around campus, too, if you’re feeling bougie. The bottom line is to know which of your classmates wouldn’t mind having you over for a meal and get to know them. Bonus points if you actually make a new friend!

Avoid every restaurant, coffee shop and store on or around campus

If you must grab food on your way to class, pop into the Berkeley Student Food Collective for one of its sliding pay scale items, or nab a coupon from someone flyering at Bancroft and Telegraph. But I swear to God, if you go into any of those coffee shops, even if it’s just to say hi to a friend, you’ll end up spending money. I don’t know how it happens, but it just does.

OK, so none of these things compare to resources such as CalFresh and the UC Berkeley Food Pantry, but sometimes those two things aren’t enough.

So if you’re feeling like ~experimenting~ while you save, we hope you try these tips!

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