Students go diving for deals on campus in effort to save money

ABy Angela Delmedico After scoping out the area for potential diving material, University sophomore Kyle Potter and his friends settled Monday night on a large, yellow, steel trash container outside Rarig Center and hopped in. Squinting through a large cloud of dust, they searched for buried treasure beneath piles of flattened cardboard boxes, wooden pallets and worn carpet remnants.

“I hate paying money for things when I can find most of them for free,” Potter said. “I really like to find cool stuff.”

Finding strategies to save money is a way of life for many students at the University, and the tricks are as varied as the students.

Potter said he goes “Dumpster diving” a few times per week. His most prized find was a fully operable computer that he salvaged from a large trash container at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn.

Always on a mission to save money by finding things for free – including food – Potter said he finds it difficult to walk past a large trash container without taking a quick peek inside.

“People are like, ‘Hey, that’s a cool shirt, where did you get it?’ and I tell them I found it in a Dumpster … It’s a good conversation piece,” Potter said. “Sometimes people are turned off by it, especially by food.”

Recent graduate Salvador Rocha Blumenkron said he made it through the entire architectural graduate program without buying any materials for his models. He recycled household items such as empty cereal boxes and found the rest in large trash containers full of cardboard and construction materials. He also used a digital camera for the photos required throughout the course to save on processing fees, he said.

Rent can be one of a college student’s largest monthly expenses, but some students have found ways around it.

Blumenkron said one of his friends slept on an air mattress in Rapson Hall for an entire semester, using building amenities such as a couch, refrigerator and microwave, and using the recreation center to shower.

To save on entertainment expenses, one psychology senior said she goes out with her friends on “smile and wink” missions to the bars where they try to get as many free drinks as possible from unsuspecting males.

Food and transportation expenses can also add up for students.

Jamie Lindfors, an education graduate student, brings his lunch to school and rides his bike in from St. Paul to avoid paying for parking.

Mechanical engineering sophomore Rusmawati Amat said she started clipping coupons when she moved here from Malaysia last year. She said she also saves a lot of money buying clothes and textbooks online.

Angela Delmedico is a freelance writer.

The freelance editor welcomes comments at [email protected]