Business Column

Skipping extra food expenses can alleviate financial strain

/ The Daily Orange

While you may have arrived on the Hill with a full bank account, the cost of hitting Marshall Street is quick to weigh students down at the start of the semester. This fall, make it your mission to balance your finances and stretch that initial allowance as far as it will go.

First-hand observations have shown that late-night study sessions often lead to students carelessly spending on the classic midnight snacks — Calio’s, Acropolis and Jimmy John’s to name a few. Simply tracking your habits by writing down where you spend your money each week can prepare students for financial savviness long after leaving Syracuse University.

And while food is necessary to survive, late-night ordering is not. It may be tempting to log on to GrubHub, especially when SU’s dining halls close earlier than you’d like. Considering there is no refund for unused swipes and SUperfood dollars, it’s important to use them up before the end of the semester.

So when you get the urge for a munch, hit Kimmel, Faculty or Pages Cafe before resorting to Insomnia Cookies to get more bang for your buck. Out-of-pocket expenses, like dining off-campus, add up over time, so using what you already paid for will be more beneficial in the long run.

But even SUperfood is bound to run out at some point. When shopping at West Campus Express or the market at the Goldstein Student Center, try to purchase what you came for. Pro tip: when you draw up your shopping list, also include prices and your budget.

Most college students’ first instinct would be to get a job to balance the cost. This may be a better idea than you thought. A 2015 study from Georgetown University, an SU peer institution, showed that 70 percent of college students take time out of their schedules to earn money.

Searching for work on the SU Job Opportunities website will alleviate some of the financial burdens of being a college student. Beware, however, because those paychecks aren’t going to save you from overspending. Only you can do that.

Ravi Shukla, the department chair of finance in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management, pointed out the importance of prioritizing wants versus needs when it comes to living on a budget — especially when it comes to food.

“The first thing you have to do is save,” said Shukla. “I see students go to Starbucks two to three times a day, but I also see students who buy a pack of soft drinks at the corner store for the full retail price. They have to think, ‘Do I really need that?’”

While access to food at multiple marts across campus and the whole array of restaurants on Marshall is a blessing, it’s also a curse. The ability to mobile order from Starbucks is convenient, but it only hurts if you go overboard. Shukla compares the need for being financially aware to being food-conscious.

“Just like in dieting, they tell you to write down everything you eat to keep track of how many calories. People always get surprised ‘Oh my God, I thought this was just a little snack,’” said Shukla. “Well, that little snack was 400 calories. The same thing [with] spending money.”

If you’re fortunate enough to use your salary for personal expenses, you might want to jaunt to Toronto for a weekend or multiple trips to Destiny USA. By being smart with your dollars, you will have more freedom later on.

You don’t want to spend all your money now to find out later that all the little poor decisions you made added up. More so, as educated college students, you have the ability to make the most of what you do have, and not to let what you don’t hold you back.

So get that Insomnia cookie, but only after something really rewarding and stick to the Junction for your nightly needs. The skills you learn in a college classroom are meant to carry over into life. But the ones you learn by being on your own and having a debit card with your name on it are the true lessons that will serve you well forever.

DeArbea Walker is a junior newspaper and online journalism, and marketing double major. Her column appears weekly. She can be reached at and followed on Twitter at @why_drb.


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