6 Ways to Use Declining Balance at the End of the Semester

Let’s be honest: UF dining is subpar compared to restaurants off campus. Only during Preview sessions is it at its finest to impress parents and soon-to-be students. Otherwise, it’s not something that’s pleasant enough to be consumed for three meals a day. Many times, students will get sucked into buying a meal plan during Preview and, unfortunately, find out during the first week of school that it’s no longer good. There is no escaping the meal plan, and the only option to get rid of it is to switch to declining balance, the absolute worst if you don’t know where to use it. Here are some clever ways to ~finesse~ that money.

1. P.O.D. Markets

Known for its wide variety of random drinks and questionable sushi, the P.O.D. Markets around campus are great for a quick bite. Anything in the store is available for purchase with declining balance, so if you’re ever in need of supplies before a hurricane, stock up on drinks and snacks instead of fighting people in the grocery stores. Some markets also have Gator accessories, so if you need a little gift for your friend, think about visiting.

2. Au Bon Pain

Arguably one of the better and healthier places to eat on campus, Au Bon Pain is basically a less fancy version of Panera Bread (at least on campus it is). You can customize sandwiches and salads, and you can even get a nice warm cup of soup on a “cold” Florida day. Located right in the famous Newell Hall, you can study and snack without leaving the building. They also accept declining balance for anything in their store, so if you need coffee but don’t like Starbucks, Au Bon Pain will be your best friend.

3. UF Bookstore

Okay, so even though you can’t blow $2,000 all at once on Florida Gators merchandise, there is a way to switch your account balances. Every 120 days, UF allows you to transfer funds from your declining balance to bookstore credit but only $200 at a time. I would suggest keeping a reminder to transfer the money because you can use it on textbooks each semester as well. Or if you’re like me, you can spend it all on clothes because you can never have enough Gator gear.

4. Starbucks

If you’re a big coffee person, then forget about your Keurig at home because Starbucks will be your dwelling place for the next four years. Since Starbucks is already overpriced, it will be easy to get rid of your declining balance that way. But if you can only handle it once a day, consider buying the mugs or cups they have for sale. They make perfect gifts and change every season, so you can have a nice supply of coffee mugs and reusable cups for the holidays or when family visits. You can also purchase snack boxes, juices and any of those famous pastries in the display cases.

5. Buy something for your professor

It’s necessary for college students to make connections with professors for future reference. If you want to make a difference, maybe bring them a coffee to class one day and use your declining balance. You also can give them a mug from Starbucks or a sweet treat from Au Bon Pain. Either way, it is essential to acknowledge the positive work your professor is doing for your college career, and why not use up that money while you’re at it?

6. Buy a homeless person a meal

Because the holiday season is upon us, many people tend to overlook the homeless population and only worry about themselves. Gainesville has a large amount of street dwellers, and a lot of them are in danger when it gets uncomfortably cold in Florida. If you still have unused declining balance left, buy a meal and a hot coffee for someone who may not be as fortunate as you to have a roof over their head.

Declining balance is one of the most annoying aspects about college. Although it is nearly impossible for a human to eat $5,000 worth of campus food in just a couple of years, there are many other ways to use it. When in doubt, you can always try to beg for the money back once you graduate, but for now, enjoy spending that declining balance money on unnecessary things.