When the Dining Hall starts to become less-than-appealing, Board Bucks can be a saving grace, giving you access to the other eateries on campus. I was always the girl who had a ridiculous amount of Board Bucks. Towards the end of the semester, I could spend mine freely while my friends were either all out or extremely low on theirs. I didn’t even know how I did it, but I always managed to be frugal with my Board Bucks and wondered why other people were struggling to get by.
But that changed this semester when I started my position as a Resident Assistant. RA’s are placed on the Weekly 14-Meal Plan, which consists of 14 meals a week and $100 Board Bucks per semester. This was a big change from the usual $500 a semester I had in the past, and the adjustment was difficult to say the least.
I used to frequent EmCaf, the C-Store, and the Max like it was my job, and now I was limited to $100 for a three-month period, which allows for roughly two Board Bucks meals a week. Now I’m starting to see how people can run out of Board Bucks so quickly. Luckily, I’ve managed to cut back on my C-Store trips and spend more quality time with the DH, and still have about $50 Board Bucks left. As the end of the semester is near, and the need for non-DH food increases, are some tips for sparing those Board Bucks:
- Go to the DH. This is a no-brainer, even though many big Board Bucks spenders dislike the DH, there are a decent amount of options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you don’t DH because you simply don’t have time, get a to-go box and pack it with food; it only costs you $0.50 in Board Bucks, way less than a meal at Paramount. You can also make it a social thing; have a weekly DH lunch date with a friend, or pick a dinner time when you and your friends are all free to hit up the DH as a group.
- Watch those weekend C-Store cravings. It can be easy, almost natural, to come back from a night out and stop in the C-Store for some late-night munchies. But try to resist the temptation — ask yourself, “do I really need to buy this giant pack of Chips Ahoy?” If you come to your senses before you step inside, you’ll avoid buyer’s remorse and avoid the damage to your virtual wallet.
- Skip breakfast. No, I don’t mean actually skip breakfast; it’s the most important meal of the day! But instead of making an EmCaf run before class or snagging a bagel from the Max, keep your room stocked with oatmeal or cereal to start your day with. It’s a much healthier morning meal, and developing the habit will spare you the Board Bucks in the long run.
- Get to know Shaw’s/Trader Joe’s/Whole Foods (depending on your preference). Taking a weekly or bi-monthly trip to the grocery store of your choosing is a great way to save up Board Bucks, and a good option for those who avoid the DH like the plague. Though it does cost actual money out of pocket to do so, you don’t have to go for broke; do your research ahead of time and find deals and weekly coupons to get the best possible deals. One thing you should put on your list: granola bars or some other filling snack that you can have on stock for those late night cravings.
- Do a little bit of math. This sounds less than appealing for some Emersonians, but whip out a calculator and determine exactly how many Board Bucks you have left to spend a week. Once you do that, you can give yourself an allowance of sorts — for example, one EmCaf sandwich and one salad from the Max per week — for the rest of the semester. The best way to do this is take your remaining Board Bucks balance and divide it by the number of weeks left in the semester, then use a rough estimate of the cost of cafe meals (around $7 average) to divide among that weekly amount.