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Gainesville For Less

How to save money in a college town.

Getting Healthy on a Budget

Staying fit and healthy can be a daunting task. Not only is there the time you have to dedicate to exercising and eating right, but you also could end up spending quite a bit of money to do it. Luckily, there are tons of ways to avoid high costs while still getting the best workout.

If you’re a student at UF, you have a free gym membership. All of the school’s recreational facilities are open for your use, including the pools and group fitness classes. You can sign up for as many classes as you want, just as long as you actually go in order to avoid being charged a fee. The gyms are open from early in the morning until late at night, so finding time to squeeze in a workout is no issue at all. When it comes to registering for classes, go to the rec sports website, and view the schedule, along with class descriptions. If you aren’t a student or recently graduated, you can still use the gyms on campus for a low membership fee, or purchase a visitor pass for $10.

When it comes to eating well, nutrition can be a hard thing to get down. In the Gator Well office at the Reitz Union, counselors can help you manage your eating habits, and give you a crash course in nutrition. The counselors also give out cookbooks with affordable, easy to make recipes, which can be a great incentive to get you in the kitchen. GatorWell also offers help with scheduling, sleeping habits, and stress management, which will all help you adjust to a healthier lifestyle. The counseling is free of charge, and by appointment only.

There are tons of places to run and work out on campus for free. A big hit is Ben Hill Griffin stadium. Whether you’re running laps around the stadium, running up and down the stairs, or doing your planks and pushups on the bleachers, there’s a workout for everyone. One popular activity is sunrise yoga. The stadium opens at dawn and closes at dusk, which gives students the chance to bring out their yoga mats and get in some stretches before the day really begins. The stadium is wide open and no ID is needed to enter.

Running along the many nature trails is another great activity. UF rec sports offers a hiking class, but for a fee of $25. If you would rather take the to the trails on your own, there are several to choose from. Running through the Lake Alice trail is a very popular spot on campus, but alligators do roam wild so make sure to vigilant!  If you’re okay with driving to your workout location, the trails at Paynes Prairie are also very popular for getting in a quick workout.

Always make sure to ask about student discounts at gyms and supplement stores, and don’t forget your coupons when you go shopping for all the healthy new foods you’re going to try. Eating smart and being fit doesn’t have to come at a high cost, and the rewards will be well worth it!

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Extreme Couponing in College

Everyone has heard of “Extreme Couponing.” If you haven’t, it’s heading to the grocery store with about a million coupons, coming home with million-and-one things, and having only paid something outrageous like $5 for it. It seems like it takes a lot of meticulous planning and patience, but two college students from the University of North Carolina have mastered it, and they’re going to give us some of their tips and tricks today.

“It honestly just started off as us being broke college students, and spending too much time watching the show [Extreme Couponers] on TLC,” Antonio Forte, said.  The two boys, Antonio Forte and Elijah Cox, were friends in high school and decided to move in together when they both got into UNC. With both of them being athletes and having big appetites, their costs for food started skyrocketing. This is when the boys began asking their neighbors if it would be okay to have their weekly coupon ads that came in the mail, rather than just letting them go to waste. Luckily, the neighbors were very kind and multiple pamphlets began landing in their mailbox.

“We had to do a lot of research. Always check your store’s coupon policy. Going in with five of the same coupons is pointless if your store doesn’t accept multiples. Some stores also have a coupon limit which will result in you having to make multiple transactions.” Cox said. The boys also said it helps to make a list before you go, regardless of how many items you plan to buy. The key to successful couponing is a plan and organization. Keeping your coupons in an accordion folder and organizing them by product and expiration date makes sure you waste nothing.

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Forte said it helps to go at a time when the store isn’t busy since you’ll probably have a very large haul. “When you’re using coupons, you’re always going to buy multiples. Making sure there aren’t 100 people in the aisle with you while you’re trying to count out a number of things you need, and make sure you’re handing the cashier the right coupons is a big help.” Another benefit of going at a less busy time is that there will more staff to help if you need anything or have questions, so you can make sure you’re getting the best bargain.

A lot of people don’t seem to realize that couponing can actually make you money. “Manufacturer’s coupons usually get forgotten because they’re found on product websites or in what looks like junk mail, but they are huge money savers,” Cox said. The two boys explained a situation where they had multiple manufacturer coupons that offered a product for $3.75. Most coupons of this type don’t expire for a year, so they held on to them until the product was on sale in their local store. Finally, the product went on sale for $3 apiece.  Using the coupon, the store actually had to refund the boys 75 cents. Forte mentioned that not all stores will honor the overage fee, but they will apply the discount at a lower price to make sure you get an even greater sale.

“You don’t have to be a math genius or someone with all the free time in the world in order to get this stuff down. It just takes some planning and practice,” said Cox. The boys have been extreme couponing for almost four semesters and have saved more money than they imagined. Go to their Instagram for more details, and make sure to reach out to them with any questions!

How to save on groceries

When you live at home and have your parents cooking for you, you don’t really understand how expensive food can be. Coming to college and having to do your own cooking and grocery shopping can be a huge wake-up call. On my first shopping trip, I spent $125 and didn’t even buy that much. In this post, I’ll dish out some tips on how to make your meals last longer, and how to shop smart. IMG_3720

As always, paying attention to what’s on sale and things you have coupons for is the best way to plan what you’re going to buy for the week. I always stock up on chicken breast when they’re on sale. The best tactic for this is to grab some freezer bags and divide the meat into one meal portions, that way you get it at a lower price and don’t have to use it all at once. I also look at what I can pair it with. Baked chicken five nights in a row will get boring. If pasta sauce is on sale I’ll make chicken parmesan, if barbecue sauce is on sale I’ll do some baked barbecue chicken. It’s best to plan before you go to the store to avoid over or under-buying.

Another great thing is to use one ingredient for multiple meals. Buying a whole rotisserie chicken can stretch out to make meals for a few days. On the first day you can just have some straight off the bone, then take the rest of the meat off and make chicken salad, or use it for shredded chicken quesadillas. This is one purchase that could feed you for a week. If you buy something like a pork tenderloin or big cut of steak, you can do the same thing. Shredded pork tacos, or chop up the steak and make a good stir fry. Since proteins are the most expensive thing on your shopping list, it’s best to make sure they last a long time.

One of the biggest money savers is making sure your food doesn’t go bad. Did you know zucchinis only last a few days? I didn’t and ended up having to buy more because mine went to waste. Storing your food properly will help you save so much money. Learning how to properly store fruits and veggies so they don’t go bad is super helpful. Also, you can freeze almost anything. So if there’s a sale on bagels and you want to stock up, you can put the other packs in the freezer so they don’t go bad, and still have enough to last you a while. Investing in something in good plastic containers and Ziploc bags that are freezer friendly will help you in the long run.

Don’t be afraid of big box stores like Costco and Sam’s club.  They just opened a Sam’s in the new Butler Plaza on Archer, which also has a gas station. While you do have to have a membership for stores like these, it basically pays for itself in the long run.

Food is expensive, there’s no way around that, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. Designate a journal or note in your phone to have your shopping list, and read those weekly flyers religiously. Good luck and shop smart!

Money Saving Apps

Apps for Saving Money in Gainesville

On a college campus, it’s not always easy to get what you need, when you need it. Luckily a lot of new apps like JoyRun, Pocket Money and even ones that are for specific business make life a lot easier. Tons of savings can be found on these apps that are just a download away.

JoyRun is a new student-run business. Once you download the app you can view peoples’ posts who are out on “runs.” Say that you need milk and have not been able to

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How you view different “runs” on JoyRun

get to the store and don’t want to spend money on a Zip Car or Uber. You can search for people who are at the supermarket and request a delivery just for milk. The grab it, deliver it to you, and you make the purchase through the app. There are no order minimums, no restaurant restrictions, and the fees are much lower than any other food delivery service in Gainesville. JoyRun also allows anyone who is a student to make deliveries, no application required. This means you can also make money while using the app, which is always a great thing! Use the offer code “3free” when signing up for free delivery on your first three orders.

 

Pocket Money is another great app that gives you mobile coupons for stores in your area. This app using GPS tracking to notify you whenever you are near a store that they have coupons for, so you’ll never miss out on a sale. They also offer digital punch cards from restaurants, so more no losing cards or forgetting to get them punched. Deals can be found by using your location or searching through categories, which makes for easy sorting. The app also gives you the contact info for stores, just in case you want to call ahead and ask about an item or clarify a deal.

The new trend in fast food and sit-down dining is having an app for your establishment. Blaze Pizza, Starbucks, Taco Bell, and Chick-Fil-A are just a few places that have apps that offer deals. Blaze’s app gives you a barcode to scan with each purchase, and when you hit 10 you get a free pizza. They also send out emails and promos that give you other free items just for having the app. Starbucks has a similar rewards system as well. Places like Panera Bread offer online ordering as part of their app, as well as a rewards program. They offer several coupons and discounts for online ordering through the app.  It’s always a good idea to look up your favorite food places in the App Store to see if they have one and see what it offers.

There are tons of ways to save just by using your phone. Look in the app store for other money saving apps by searching for keywords such as “coupon,” and  “discount.” These are great to use because unlike forgetting paper coupons at home, you’ll always have your phone with you wherever you go. Download a few apps and keep your phone charged and your pockets full. Happy saving!

Thrifting in Gainesville

Spending time on a college campus means seeing fashion trends come and go as quickly as they appear in magazines. Not only that, but the realization of how many different types of clothes you need starts to set in. You need workout clothes, business casual, professional, casual comfy clothes, and of course clothes for going out on the town. Between keeping up with trends and having everything you need, this can start to add up and put a dent in your bank account. Luckily Gainesville has a wide selection of thrift stores where you can get everything you need for a lower cost.

There are a few stores in the area that carry exclusively brand name clothing. These are good places to pick up those business outfits for interviews and events like Career Showcase at UF. Plato’s Closet and Sandy’s are the best places to find this kind of outfits. They also both offer punch cards that give you a discount after a discount after 10 purchases. The only downside of these places is that they can still charge a good amount of money since they exclusively offer name brand clothing, but you will definitely be paying less than if you bought it at the mall.

If you’re looking to create your own style or keep up with the thousands of retro styles that are becoming popular again, places like Flashbacks and Good Will are the place to go. Flashbacks is right near campus on University, which could easily be a 10-minute walk. Both stores get new inventory every week, so the styles are constantly changing. These places are significantly cheaper than other second-hand stores, which is a great advantage.

The best part of Sandy’s, Plato’s and Flashbacks is that they offer the chance to sell your old clothing for cash. Plato’s and Sandy’s offer punch stamps when you sell your clothing as well, which gets you closer to the discount. The stores allow you to drop off your clothing and will call you when they have priced everything out. This gives you time to do what you need or even shop around the store. The money you get from trading in your old clothes, which can include shoes and accessories as well, could also go towards getting a brand new outfit from a department store.

Following the stores’ Facebook pages is always a good idea. They will let you know if they offer any specials and allow you to get there before anyone else! Hoarding up some old clothing to do a mass sell to one of these stores is always a good idea as well. Visit them all and decide which one is your favorite to frequent. Eventually, you will be a thrifting pro with a few extra bucks in your pocket.

Fun, Inexpensive Dates

This week was Valentine’s Day, adored by many but dreaded by most. Not only does is it a painful reminder for those of us who are single, but it’s also an expensive one for those in relationships. There’s the gift, the dinner, the outfit, and making sure you have a tank full of gas for the traffic you’re going to sit in with all the other couples driving to restaurants. Here are a few ideas for how to have a nice date with that special someone and not break the bank.

A lot of people seem to forget that Gainesville has a beautiful and extensive nature scene. Right on University of Florida campus alone, there are 31 conservation areas including Lake Alice, the Harmonic Woods, and the Bat House Forest. An evening at Lake Alice watching the sun set and then witnessing a million or so bats fly out of the bat houses is truly amazing and would be a wonderful thing to do with someone special. Even further out Gainesville is home to several natural springs. Ginnie Spring, Devil’s Den and   Blue Springs Park are beautiful spots for a picnic and even to go for a dip. Most of these parks have a small entrance fee, but if you’re willing to spend a little extra besides that then you can rent inner tubes, scuba gear, and paddle boards.

The Florida Natural History Museum and the Harn Museum of Art are two interesting and amazing attractions. The Harn is free to all visitors and the Natural History Museum is free to UF students and discounted to Santa Fe students. The Natural History Museum has an outdoor butterfly garden that is perfect to walk through with your sweetheart, and you may even have a butterfly or two lands on you. The Harn offers guided tours in which a docent helps you explore

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The butterfly garden in the Florida Museum of Natural History.

the different pieces and an outdoor Japanese garden that doubles as a romantic backdrop for a nice date. Both museums are right next door to each other so you could spend a whole day exploring both of them without even having to move your car.

 

I’m sure you’ve also seen tons of pictures of your friends and their significant others holding beautifully painted canvases that they created on their own date night. The good news is you can do that in Gainesville too! Heading over to Painting with a Twist or Corks and Colors will allow you to get your creative juices flowing. Corks and Colors has daily specials, and also allows you to paint ceramics. A trip to Corks and Colors doesn’t require an appointment, but they do offer painting classes you do have to sign up for. Painting with a Twist is appointment based, and a little more pricey. To save some money, both of these places offer specials on Groupon. It’s definitely a fun experience and a great opportunity to make something you can share with your significant other, or burn if you guys break up.

Gainesville has a great night life too. Downtown and Midtown have great clubs to go dance the night away at. Keep an eye out for numbers to call to be put on “The List,” that’ll get you free entry. Most clubs also offer free admission before a certain time or discounted specialty drinks. Making sure to check out different specials is great before deciding where to go, especially if you plan on making your way through multiple places throughout the night. Following your favorite places on Instagram and Twitter will let you find out the specials first thing and help you plan your night.

Dating doesn’t have to be expensive. Watching out for deals and specials, or even planning something special around a Groupon you found can make for an unforgettable time. I’m sure once your partner sees how much you put into deciding where to go and what to do, they’ll be touched. Having fun with your special someone without going broke is the best kind of fun to have.

How to save money in college.

Often times, college is the first place that many people have to manage their money on their own. When I got to college I thought $150 was a lot. Until I realized that $50 went to groceries. Eating on campus for the week was another $40. All the fun things my friends wanted to do took away $30 more, and God forbid I had to buy something for school or had a doctor’s appointment that week, that usually cost me another $20. After that, I was left with $10 and a lot of questions as to where all my money went.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that I needed to develop healthy spending habits. I did some research, and made a lot of phone calls to my mom, and discovered some easy ways to save money in Gainesville.

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The beautiful University of Florida campus.

 

One of the first things I discovered was all the Facebook groups for UF students. There was a group for almost every class and for people buying and selling things. I realized that these pages were huge gold mines. Checking these pages once a week will give you tons of buying options for anything from appliances to clothing. There also a great place to buy old textbooks and discounted Smokin’ Notes, which we all need for a healthy semester. Instead of spending around $100 on that professional outfit for Career Showcase, there are several students who sell their business professional outfits that no longer fit them or they just don’t want anymore. Subscribing to these pages will give you first dibs on items you’ll get notifications as soon as someone posts something.

A huge money saver that most students ignore is the Gator Greenbacks coupon book. This is literally free money people! It gets sent out to everyone in the area so even if you don’t live on campus or just graduated and are no longer a student, you won’t miss out on this great opportunity. The pamphlet has coupons for almost every restaurant in Gainesville, on and off campus. They also last for months, as most of them don’t expire until the end of the semester which is when the new pamphlets are sent out. Holding on to one of these will save you hundreds on eating out, so going out with friends or eating on campus during the week won’t be as expensive as you think it would.

Gator Bucks is a great website that also offers coupons. Unlike Gator Greenbacks, Gator Bucks offers coupons for things other than just food. They offer specials on haircuts, gym memberships, tutoring services and even scooters. You can find great deals for food on the site as well. It’s a great site to check out if you’re looking to do something a little out of your budget without going way over it. Things like haircuts and tutoring fees are often overlooked when planning out your spending, so finding a way to save money while getting them done is always great.

Gainesville isn’t the cheapest place to live, and if this is your first time managing money on your own it can all feel very overwhelming. These are just a few ways to save money on a day to day basis. Coupons can go a long way, and there is no shame in getting second-hand dorm necessities or clothes you’ll only wear once or twice every semester. In the end, every dollar counts, so save them where you can!

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