Students look to stretch dollar

Cayce Berryman / ReporterMore retro clipart at

With mounting expenses that can include tuition, books, food, gas, housing and more, college students are used to living on a budget. But with a hectic lifestyle of classes, work and family, costs can quickly get out of hand.

“I probably spend $150 on fast food in a week,” said Catherine Sieber, a first-year sonography major at Del Mar College. In a 16-week semester, Sieber spends about $2,400 on fast food alone, more than quadrupling her $550 tuition cost.

Sieber is not alone, of course. According to the Huffington Post, college students spend more money on eating out than they did when living at home. In 2011, college students spent an average of $765 on food off-campus, 51 percent of which was takeout.

Food isn’t the only major college expense besides books and tuition. According to, students spend an average of $211 a month on unnecessary items such as electronics and name-brand clothes.

“I think college students spend money on useless gadgets,” said Danny Huynh, a computer programming major at Del Mar.

According to, the average college student makes less than $1,000 a month. Many are forced to look for ways to stretch a dollar in their day-to-day lives.

Del Mar College’s West Campus offers free amenities to students such as automotive services, haircuts, salon services and dental hygiene. These services are offered at different times throughout the year. Automotive students will look at your vehicle and fix brakes and electrical problems, and also will diagnose a check-engine light. All you need to provide are the parts and the labor is free. Students in the cosmetology program offer free haircuts if you schedule an appointment. Other upcoming services provided through the Del Mar West Campus can be found at or by calling 698-1761.

Students in the culinary and hospitality management programs, also on the West Campus, offer an inexpensive lunch to students and others in the community from 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. every Wednesday in the Restaurant Management Building. A recent menu included ribs, quail, smoked sirloin, macaroni and cheese and a salad bar. The meals cost about $6.

Because nothing beats free food, Student Baptist Ministries across the street from Del Mar College’s East Campus, at 205 Glendale, holds a weekly luncheon for college students at 12:30 p.m. Tuesdays.

Another way to save on food, according to the Huffington Post, is to start a meal group where each person is required to pitch in for groceries as well as cook a meal to share with the group.

For students looking to use a printer, Del Mar College offers a printing service, although there is a limit of 10 pages. This is located in the Memorial Building, Room 211. The library allows for a maximum of 50 pages.

Gas is an expense most college students recognize. The GasBuddy application is available with user-updated gas prices around town. This may help save five or 10 cents a gallon. The city’s RTA bus system, free to students with a current school ID, is also available. The route schedule and map are available in the Harvin Center beside the stairs.

Day-to-day spending may seem insignificant, especially when purchasing a 95-cent snack or $25 phone case. They add up, though, and it shows in credit card bills and empty wallets. Use the amenities paid for through your college tuition and work with groups of friends to combine costs.

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