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Saving money getting more resourceful

By Joanne Hou

Oct. 10, 2007 10:12 pm

Josh Chang willingly lives in a two-bedroom apartment with four other people to bring down his share of the rent.

The third-year undeclared student is one of many students living in apartments in Westwood who are trying to save some money.

To cut down costs of living on their own, students have developed different strategies to reduce the cost of rent, food, transportation and school supplies.

Westwood is regarded as an expensive place to live partly because of its close proximity to school, said Ronald W. Johnson, director of financial aid.

The financial aid office has counselors available daily who can help students with budgeting and resource management, Johnson said.

In addition, the financial aid office also publishes information on its Web site about budgeting.

Not all students have used the school’s resources and many students do develop their own ways to budget and save.

Some students cut down the cost by not bringing a car and they get around by walking, biking and taking the bus.

Chang said he gets around by bus and walking and is considering getting a bike to save time.

“I don’t have a car because parking is so expensive,” Chang said.

Some students bypass traditional retail stores to buy furniture and books.

Both Chang and Amerfina Santiago, second-year nursing student, found their books on Facebook’s Marketplace, an online market in which students on Facebook can buy and sell goods.

Santiago said she was able to buy a required clicker device for her class on the Marketplace for $15 when its full cost was $50. The device enables students to answer mostly multiple choice questions in class by pressing the appropriate buttons.

Santiago said she not only bought textbooks, but also found apartment deals on the Marketplace.

Santiago was able to sublease a shared furnished apartment for six weeks for $500.

Roderick Tayag, a third-year electrical engineering student, found cheap furniture for his apartment by going on Craigslist, a classifieds Web site that allows people to post goods for sale and apartments for rent, among other things.

Some people cut on furniture cost by having less furniture.

Frances Fukushima, a math graduate student, said she does not have a bed and would buy very few pieces of furniture.

“I could survive without furniture,” Fukushima said.

Besides paying for furniture, students are also responsible for preparing meals and many have taken various measures to lower the food cost.

Some students, such as Ryo Takei, a graduate student in mathematics, save by bringing lunch to campus.

“It’s so expensive to buy food (on campus) and the quality isn’t very good,” Takei said.

Students also try to find low cost groceries.

Tayag said he buys his groceries in bulk from Costco and shares the cost with his three other roommates.

Takei goes to the farmers’ market on Broxton Avenue on Sundays and said he thinks the groceries there are cheaper than those in supermarkets.

Other students, such as Wynn Shang, a fourth-year biology student, bring cooked food from home instead of buying food around Westwood.

Still other students take advantage of currency exchange differences to save.

Connie Hor, fourth-year economics student, said she buys her clothes, shoes, food, and even international editions of her textbooks in Hong Kong, her home country to which she returns every half year.

Hor said goods cost less in Hong Kong than they do in the U.S.

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