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The Comenian

The student news site of Moravian University

The Comenian

The student news site of Moravian University

The Comenian

Commuter Corner: Fueling Your Financial Success

Photo from Lola Offenback.
Photo from Lola Offenback.

As a commuter student, I have to manage my finances differently than those living on campus. I don’t have a meal plan and I have to purchase gas often. 

While this isn’t my experience, other commuter students have to pay for rent, groceries, and other living expenses monthly rather than paying room and board at the start of a semester. All of these factors need to be considered when managing their finances. 

Traveling isn’t cheap, whether that’s through a train, bus, personal vehicle, or any other manner. Gas prices have become increasingly expensive in the last few years, and paired with routine car maintenance, there can be hefty price tags. 

Depending on the car I am driving and if I am traveling to other places besides school, I can spend anywhere from $120-$180 on gas in any given month. During the semester, that can sometimes eat up an entire biweekly paycheck! 

While it is expensive to perform regular maintenance on your car, I recommend doing so because a $60 oil change can quickly turn into a $1,500 gasket repair (don’t quote me on that, I have never blown a gasket). 

Even buying food on campus can dig into your bank account. It’s similar to the price of eating out every day. With such busy schedules, it can be hard to pack a lunch, but doing so when you can will help alleviate some of the costs of food. 

I also always keep a few snacks in my backpack, such as a granola bar, banana, chips, or candy/protein bar. Not only are these snacks good to have when I have a busy day and don’t have time to eat lunch, but they’re also a good option when I need something to hold me over until I can go home for dinner. 

When grocery shopping, make it more affordable by finding coupons and other discounts. Get frequent shopper cards for the major grocery stores you shop at to get special discounts and deals. Also, shop at cheaper grocery stores such as Aldi, Lidl, or Grocery Outlet. 

Moravian provides resources that can help students struggling to afford groceries or meals. Mo’s Cupboard, which just recently received a $19,985 state grant, regularly restocks grocery essentials and takes anonymous requests. 

There is also a Discord server called “Moravian Dining Food 4 All” that notifies students when there is leftover food from events or other free snacks and meals on campus. You can link your Moravian email to your account and join the server. Both of these resources can alleviate the cost of food and help students save some money. 

Budgeting is truly anyone’s best friend, but especially commuters. Keeping track of your finances helps you identify how much money needs to go towards your expenses and how much you have left over to either save or use as spending money. 

Personally, I try to work as much as possible over school breaks to pay tuition and also to save money to use during the semester when I am working less. This paired with my planned budgeting seems to effectively allow me to have enough money for my expenses and still have some spending money, too! 

Working an on-campus job is also beneficial as a commuter. I am frequently on campus just waiting for my next class/event to start, so why not work a few hours here and there and make a little extra money? On-campus jobs seem like a dream for commuter students who have large gaps in their schedules. 

Each person’s finances and lifestyle are going to look different, but it is important to be mindful and budget appropriately to set yourself up for success. It’s hard to focus on schoolwork when you are worried about affording gas to make it to class, so do your best to stay prepared.

As always, thank you for reading the column! If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please either leave a comment, email me at [email protected], or fill out this form!

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