Thursday, April 19, 2018

How to Live on a Budget living in Ann Arbor

Living in Ann Arbor as a graduate student can be quite expensive sometimes. But don’t worry, there are some strategies that have worked for me that you can try out to save on your monthly spending. 

Meal Preparation over the weekends 
This is one of the life hacks that have saved me tons of money on food spending each week. My weekly spending on grocery is about $30-$40 including snacks if I plan well ahead of time, and buy just enough groceries for my weekly meals. Compared with eating out for most meals, I would save around $60 per week! I usually spend 2-3 hours on Sunday every weekend to prepare most of lunch and dinner for the week. You can also swap meals with your friends who also do meal-prepping to increase the variety of your meals.

Use Public Transportation
Luckily, the public transportation system around Ann Arbor is pretty extensive and they are all free with your M-Card. Plan your travel route ahead of time using Google Maps or other GSP applications on your phone to know the time of your bus and whether you need to transfer. You can also download the Ann Arbor Transit App if you have a smart phone to see your bus schedule in real time.

Track your Spending 
This is the most effective way to learn your own spending habits and find ways to cut your living expenses. You can create your own monthly spreadsheet or use other spending tracking apps to help you. I have been using this spreadsheet created by somebody else and found it very easy to use. Towards the end of each month,  see which category took up the most of your spending, whether it is food, online shopping or entertainment and cut your spending from there. Cancel any unnecessary subscription or cut down any expensive snacks that won’t do any good to your body anyways. If we do not know what our money goes every month, it is hard to know how to save.

Use Your Student Discount 
There are many places in Ann Arbor that gives out student discount if you are a student with your M-Card. For example, the State and Michigan Theater have $8 student tickets for most of the showings. Suvai, the Indian restaurant on State St. also has student discount for lunch buffet. Ask around your friends and colleagues, or see this list with other deals in town.

I hope these tips help you better budget your spending in the future and save up money to spend on things that truly make a difference in your life. Comment below if you have other ways of saving money while living around Ann Arbor!

This blog was written by ICSC member Yeuzhong Zheng