5 Tips on How To Survive on $50 a Week at SMU

By the SMU Digital Marketing Team

Living on a shoestring budget sounds like the last thing on your mind when you’re on a bustling city campus like SMU. But rather than depriving yourself of gastronomical treats (we all need fuel to get through yet another project discussion) and high-adrenaline activities to elevate energy levels, here are some smart tips on how you can spend less and live more!



1. Save with eateries near campus

Sure, the multitude of restaurants and cafes located in town may test your self-discipline when it comes to sticking to a budget. However, being right smack in the heart of the city means access to loads of mind-blowing food options—not all of which will burn a hole in your pockets.

For starters, take advantage of discounts by self-picking up an order on food apps like Foodpanda and GrabFood. Simply stroll to a nearby eatery for your take-out, without even having to stand in line to wait for your order. Then pick a good spot on campus, kick back, and enjoy your meal (while maintaining safe distancing and safety measures, of course).

Cai fan, or “economy rice”, is also a mainstay for students on a budget. To score greater savings, try selecting vegetarian dishes like tofu and vegetables instead of meats for a more affordable and healthier meal.

Pro tip: Feel like “splurging” to celebrate the end of exams or a birthday? Head over to fancier on-campus eateries like Canteen Bistro, which serves up Omu Rice dishes for under $10. There’s even a discount for SMU staff and students for a guilt-free treat.



2. Go paperless

Rather than bust your budget on hardcover textbooks that are heavy to lug around and cost a small fortune to boot, find out if your required reading materials are available in electronic formats. If the reading materials are available in the electronic resources to which the SMU Library subscribes, the library will provide the links to the materials. Students may print one copy for their personal use.

With the rise of remote working tools, cloud storage and automated workflow systems, the use of hard copy documents is also on the decline in most industries. As such, going paperless in university will be a good prep for your future working environment.

Pro tip: For print-outs of required readings, check out online marketplaces, touch base with seniors or reach out to peers on group chats to purchase second-hand copies at a fraction of the cost. Moreover, you earn brownie points with Mother Nature for saving trees!



3. Adopt a zero waste mindset

There’s no better time to embrace the zero waste movement, and save cash while you’re at it. Instead of buying bottled drinks like that $8 cold brew, fix the same beverage at home and store it in a reusable water bottle; or pack a healthy snack like a container of granola, nuts or vegetable crudités to shed pounds and save pennies—all without the single-use packaging associated with processed, packed snacks.

Speaking of reusables, go beyond food when it comes to zero waste, such as using a menstrual cup instead of tampons and sanitary pads. While you’re at it, support SMU alumna Vanessa Paranjothy, who helms menstrual cup startup Freedom Cups. The company even gives a cup to a woman from an underprivileged community with every cup sold.

Pro tip: Finding it hard to resist the latest drops at fast fashion stores near school? Join a freecycle group to exchange clothing or accessories, or pay a small fee to join platforms like Swapaholic, a social enterprise that helps declutter and refresh your closet.



4. Join a CCA to keep healthy

Still working on that New Year’s resolution to get in shape? While signing up for a gym membership sounds like the best option for motivating yourself to work out, why pay to get healthy when you can do it for free—and gain a new community of friends and like-minded peers?

The SMU Sports Union boasts a plethora of clubs with an activity to suit almost any fitness personality: From high-adrenaline martial arts like Muay Thai and Wushu, to Tchoukball, a no-contact, fast-speed handball game to get your heart pumping.

Or want to get healthy the old school way—by sweating it out in a gym? The multi-level SMU Gymnasium & Fitness Centre, located at the School of Computing and Information Systems, even has student fitness instructors to provide personal training and fitness assessments.

Pro tip: Don’t worry if you are a gym newbie. Get acquainted with gym equipment or how to work out safely with the advice of gym trainers. Pop in at off-peak hours to snag a bit more face time with the pros!



5. Spend after-hours in school

Remember when staying back after school meant dreaded detention or painful remedial lessons? At SMU, you might actually want to spend time on campus, even outside of school hours. Instead of depleting your bank balance at the movies, events or other paid activities, check out campus events instead for that much-needed downtime, at no cost!

The annual SMU Arts Festival, for example, is usually jam-packed with performances, exhibits and events that take place within the surrounding heritage precinct and on campus. Last year, due to the pandemic, the festival was held online with a groundbreaking programme of virtual activities.

For even more niched interest groups, check out the Special Interest and Community Service Sodality clubs, which includes a cocktail making group called SMU Barworks, a recreational fishing club, and even a mixed martial arts group to help you wind down amid a full academic load. Who says you have to spend money to have fun?