Survival Tips

How to Avoid Family on Xmas Without Actually Avoiding Them

Boy, that was a long title.

Chatting with family during the holidays can be both heartwarming and downright exhausting. You can only talk about school, your job, or your partner before you ask ask yourself,  “Why the hell did I agree to come home for the holidays?” It’s OK, you’re not the only one suffering from an overexposure of family. But before you bang your head into the wall, check out Mashable’s “5 Other Things to Do on Christmas Day.” It’s a delightful list of ways to be with your family without actually having to talk to them. And they’re all free. Absolutely free (besides going to the cinema, but have somebody else pay for that *ahem* grandparents).

  1. Watch the ‘Doctor Who’ Christmas Special. This is an absolute winner.
  2. Listen to the Most Streamed Holiday Music.
  3. Check out Netflix’s New Series for Kids. For the little humans who may be about.
  4. Go to the Movies.
  5. Stay put and Watch ‘A Christmas Story.’

Merry Christmas!


Fold Clothes or Serve Food?

Studying while holding down a full time job is a painful reality for many students here in San Francisco-Bay Area. A part-time job doesn’t look that bad if you’re not willing to go thousands into debt. But the options students are left with for work both equally suck. These options are (usually, but not always) limited to retail and food service both which pay pennies for our time and energy. So consider the following when looking for a job:

1. How much time is your willing to sacrifice? Knowing exactly how much time you’re willing to sacrifice weekly is key to finding a decent work/school balance. Work too much and you’ll likely hate your job before it’s actually worth hating. On the other hand, If you don’t work enough you’ll find yourself asking if it’s event worth it.
2. How valuable is that time? Most retail jobs are willing to give you 38+ hours (7 hrs 5 days a week, typically) while service jobs can only offer 25 hours (6 hours 3-4 shifts a week) with tips. This make a huge impact when evaluating your work/school balance. While you’ll definitely have fatter checks in retail, you’ll be expected to work much longer. A service job will definitely have fewer, shorter shifts with a smaller paychecks. Take your pick.
3. How hard are you willing to work? Lets face it, the intensity of each job can differ greatly. Retail jobs usually don’t require you to work as hard, but the long hours can be grueling. Service jobs definitely have shorter shifts, but the intensity is sometimes intimidating.
4. What’s the compensation? Retail jobs almost always have room for promotions and pay raises, but the initial pay is generally minimum wage. Service jobs have little room for promotion, but tips can be huge. Knowing how much your time and energy costs is crucial when job hunting here.

Happy job hunting!


Is Commuting Worth It?

When is the last time you woke up at 4AM to go to work? Chances are it’s been a long time, if ever. Waking up at absurd hours is the norm for many commuters heading to San Francisco (or anywhere in the bay). But it’s OK, many of us made this decision. But is commuting worth it? Yes, it is – at least for me. Waking up most mornings before the sun for a job I love isn’t that bad (plus tips aren’t too shabby).

So, my job is great, but what about the East Bay itself?

The East Bay is a student’s paradise. Rent is cheap, food even cheaper, and there are plenty of free activities. I considered the following when deciding to move to the East Bay::

  1. Rent is definitely cheaper. I was spending over half my monthly income on rent. That’s crazy. Since moving I’ve reduced my rent for $300 and have a living room, a full kitchen, and a balcony with a view of Lake Merritt. I can live with that.
  2. Some peace and quiet. Sirens are cool, but not at 3AM.
  3. Forced to explore. San Francisco is like living in a bubble. Everything outside is a blurry image of East Bay, South Bay, and…North Bay? Moving to the East Bay has given me access to far more cafes, shops, and people outside of the 7×7.

I’m not going to lie, San Francisco is awesome. But as a student looking to get the most out of living in the bay AND college, the EB (East Bay, can I use that?) can offer just that. Stay put if you’re comfortable (or have rent control), but if you’re considering a way to seriously cut expenses – consider your options. At the end of the day, it’s worth the commute.

Survival Tips


Smart shopping is key.

I absolutely hate eating out in San Francisco because I’m always left hungry and without that extra 20 bucks in my wallet. I’d rather head over to my local supermarket and pick up a basket full of groceries than a single plate of food. It’s no secret that grocery shopping is key to saving money on a student budget. You’ll definitely be able to make your money AND food stretch past a couple of days if you shop smart. Shopping smart requires you to consider two things:

  1. Is what you like to eating cheap and easy to make? TIP: Always opt for the store brand, it’s generally .85cents – $1 cheaper, that definitely adds up.
  2. Can you carry it around in SF-Bay Area with little effort? TIP: Two bag minimum, it’s easy to carry around and you won’t be that person on MUNI with heaps of shit.

I’m not going to lie and say it’s always easy, sometimes it’s really tricky to cook food then carry it around on a busy schedule. But if you can spare an extra hour of your day for shopping and cooking, you will definitely see a huge difference in your wallet!



Survival Tips

No Grievance Letters for Money Blown

Be warned: there are no grievance letters for money blown. When celebrating this weekend, remember that an evening out can easily cost you 80 bucks. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. No one is going to listen to you complain about how hard you’ve worked that cash (even though I’m sure you did). So here are a few tips that your back pocket will seriously thank you for:

1. Go as far as your feet will take you. Taxis are insanely expensive and will likely to try and rip you off (particularly if you appear drunk). Keeping it local is your best chance to maximize your fun this weekend.
2. Be aware of how much you’re spending. Waking up the next morning to check your wallet or bank account and noticing you’ve spent heaps of money sucks. Set a limit and know when you get there. If you need help, ask your responsible friend. They love controlling that kind of shit anyway.
3. Don’t buy other people drinks. I know you want to be the nice person, but dropping an extra $8 on friends will quickly add up! Your friends are students too, they’ll understand when you tell the bartender, “They’re separate.”

Now go out this weekend and forget everything you’ve learned. You deserve it!