Money. Can’t live with it, can’t live without it. Starting graduate school (and moving across the country in some cases) can put a strain on your budget. Many of you have talked with us about the fears you have around this financial transition. To help ease the stress of figuring your finances out, here are some resources and ideas that help make a limited budget less problematic. You can do this! All you need is some creativity and a bit of advance planning.
Furnishing Your New Home
Sometimes moving is easier and cheaper if you don’t bring everything you own with you. Once you’re here, there are plenty of ways to furnish your new place on a tight budget.
- IKEA: Don’t forget to break for meatballs!
- Goodwill: Our personal favorite is the Lane Street location, as they have a huge furniture/housewares section.
- Craigslist: We all know about Craigslist, but don’t forget to check the Craigslist Free section, which might lead you to a gold mine.
- Offer Up: This is the Pinterest version of Craigslist, that allows you to buy and sell locally from people in your area!
- Nextdoor: This is a great resource to connect with people in your neighborhood. All the time people are giving away free things and recommending services (plumbing, house cleaning, etc.).
- Buy Nothing Project: Another great social networking site dedicated to bartering goods with people in your area.
Deals for Play, Eats, and Services
Low Cost Healthcare
See a Doctor
These places have the option to apply for a sliding scale fee, based upon your income.
- Dandelion Apothecary: Herbal teas, natural medicines, hypoallergenic soaps/lotions, plus a knowledgeable staff to advise you!
- USA Drug Plan: Here you can print a free discount card that is accepted at many pharmacies in Seattle.
Managing Your Coffee Addiction
Free Coffee at The Seattle School
In the Commons area of The Seattle School, there is drip coffee brewed throughout the day for our community! We source a house blend from Slate Coffee Roasters. If we’re out and you’d like to help by making a pot, just ask someone at the front desk to show you how, and remember the directions are labeled by the machine (don’t try to guess your way through it, it can be a messy process). One of our favorite coffee shops, Street Bean, is right up the road, and they also support local youth and provide apprenticeships to individuals desiring to exit street life.
Punch Cards for Your Favorite Shops
Many coffee shops have cards that get stamped or punched each time you buy a drink. Usually you get the 10th drink free. Not every place does this, but here’s a list of a few that do:
- Bang-Bang Cafe
- Macrina Bakery
- Stumptown Coffee Roasters
- Miro Tea
Prepaid Giftcards that Factor in a Free Drink
- Lighthouse Coffee
- Cafe Vita
- Uptown Espresso
Keep Parking Costs Down
The cheapest route is to walk, bus, or bike, but if you must drive, there are some ways to shave a few bucks off here and there.
- Street parking is $1.00/hr from 8:00-11:00am, $2.00/hr from 11:00am-5:00pm, and $1.50/hr from 5:00pm-8:00pm. You can pay for up to four hours.
- Early Bird: Discounted parking is available if you arrive before 10:00am in the Vine Street Garage (Vine/Elliott), the Port Authority Garage (Elliott/Wall), and the gravel lot across the street from our entrance. The garages are both $13 for 10 hours, and the lot is $12.
- Monthly Passes: Most of you will not need to be here often enough for this to help, but if you work downtown you may want to consider it.
- Park on the weekend: On Saturdays many gravel lots and some garages offer parking for $4-$6
- Parking is free on Sundays!
- Don’t forget to carpool whenever possible.
- Ride the bus or cycle into school (more info on riding the bus in a future post).
Save on Groceries
If you’re a full-time student and work at least 20 hours per week, you can qualify for food stamps. You can find the application and more details here.
Grocery Stores Rated by Price (least expensive first):
This is the cheapest option by far, though product selection varies, and you often won’t be able to get everything you’re looking for. It’s worth going here first and then filling in the gaps elsewhere. You can Grocery Outlet locations in Crown Hill, Bitter Lake, Lake City, and the International District.
- Fred Meyer: Go-to store for big grocery lists/when you also need to pick up housewares, toiletries, etc.
- Safeway: Middle of the road pricing and selection
- Trader Joe’s: Great for quick grabs to bring to class with you or for buying groceries for one or two people
- Uwajimaya: Located in the International District, this is the largest Asian supermarket within the Seattle city limits. For better prices and a larger selection you’ll need to travel north or south to find an H Mart (see below).
- QFC: Owned by Kroger, tends to be pricey, but has great sales
- Metropolitan Market: Real nice, real pricey
- PCC/Whole Foods: These are your standard natural foods grocery stores, with the high cost you’d expect. But they’re oh-so-nice and also support local vendors.
If you have a car and don’t mind driving a bit further to stock up on groceries, chances are you can save a lot. These stores are outside of the Seattle city limits, either south in Renton, Kent or Federal Way, or north in Shoreline and Lynnwood.
- WinCo. It’s employee-owned and has all the groceries you might need as well as an amazing bulk dry goods section (think flour, sugar, dried fruit, cereal, nuts, candy, spices etc) where you can purchase exactly what you want and pay based on weight. Overall, prices here are significantly lower than any supermarket in Seattle. Just make sure to bring cash or a debit card, no credit cards accepted.
- H Mart. Need somewhere to pick up gochujang? This is the place. H Mart is the largest and most affordable Asian supermarket in the area.
- Costco. If you haven’t already got a membership to this Kirkland-based bulk savings store, it’s worth the cost for the gas and toilet paper savings alone. They also have great deals on surprising items like car tires and batteries and prescriptions.
So there you have it. The good news about Seattle is that there are so many fun, inexpensive things to do in the city, whether it’s hiking, hanging out at the parks, roaming through the many libraries and bookstores, or sitting in a pub for hours with new friends playing games and sipping your drink of choice. We’ll have more to come on all of that later! You do not have to succumb to Ramen and nights of boredom—just plan ahead and get creative. And don’t forget to share your own ideas and money saving tips on your Facebook cohort page!