I’ve been bouncing this blog post idea around for a bit. It definitely is not for everyone and I want to address that right off. Graduate student stipends are so varied even within a single university. Not everyone can afford to live on a grad student stipend alone. Not everyone can afford to spend money on some of the items I’m suggesting in this post. Loads of graduate students are still paying off loans from undergrad, or even accruing more as they study. I can’t address everyone’s financial status in one post. But I am privileged enough to be able to scrape together enough to afford some of the following every so often and have found that they can be a great help in regard to time and stress. And what graduate student wouldn’t want more time and less stress?
Several of the links in this post include referral links from the author.
I was pretty hesitant about jumping on the Amazon Prime train, even with the 50% student discount. But I am on board and I ain’t looking back! Two Day Free Shipping is fine and dandy, but I’m essentially hooked on some of the other, lesser known, perks. Did you know you get to choose from one of six new books to download FOR FREE? Every month! On top of that you can check out a Kindle library book once a month for free! These have really motivated my early morning 30 minute relaxing reading sessions. Add to this all of the Prime TV and Movies? Sold, right? I will admit that I have never used the Prime Music or Prime Photos benefits, but I can definitely see the photos being useful. If only I had time…
Amazon Subscribe and Save
Subscribe and Save is one of my top recommendations that not many people seem to know about yet! Amazon will send groceries right to your door every month or every few months. You can stock up on bulk items (like PEANUT BUTTER, amiright?) at a discount and not have to waste anytime going to the grocery store. Did I mention free shipping? And you don’t need to be a Prime member. I really can’t say enough good things about how convenient this service is for my life.
Sending out Laundry
Having a service come deal with my dirty clothes one is definitely the most difficult cost to justify, but I LOVE not having to do laundry as often. I save so much time and I justify sending off our laundry every so often by valuing my time highly. Usually a good sized bag of clothes/towels is about $30 ($1.20 / lb) but I’ve sent off some monster loads that have racked up a month’s bill in the $50-70 range. Again, definitely a luxury item, but one that for me reduces stress and frees up my time.
CSA Box Delivery
I’m a proponent of buy/eating local food and I LOVE my Community Supported Agriculture box I get weekly. For about $25 per week, Benjamin and I receive produce, milk, yogurt, bread, and eggs at our apartment. Deliver Day is so exciting; what are we going to get!? (hint: in the winter it’s lots of potatoes, but they go great in brekkie ‘rritos, summer means quash and tomatoes…which also could go great in ‘rritos) If you live in an area that has a CSA available GO FOR IT! Afraid you won’t be able to eat it all? Consider getting together with a few other grad students for one. Still have leftovers? Have you tried creating a vermiculture compost bin?
For the Ladies: Stitch Fix
I’ve posted about Stitch Fix before on the Tumblr and I’ve had mixed results on my boxes to date (one – AMAZING, two – so/so, the rest – PERFECT), but I maintain that this is a
GREAT service for graduate students, even if you only use it sparingly. You can have boxes sent on a schedule or at your request and you will receive five items picked just for you by your stylist. You can let your stylist know about what you want to receive and what styles you’re into via Pinterest, style quiz, and message. The items are a bit pricier than my usual purchases, but I don’t have to go to the mall and try and find things (which I’m awful at) and spend time/money to maybe find something. Especially once you’re nearing the end of grad school and you need to invest in some interview/big kid job clothes this is PERFECT.
For the Ladies: ipsy
My ipsy make-up bags are always a fun treat to receive in the mail. Honestly, if I had the funds I would be in so many monthly subscription services. So many. For $10/month you get five make-up items in a uniquely designed bag. Lots of the items are things/brands I’d never think to buy for myself and the vast majority are well-tailored to my complexion. Many items aren’t full size, but that is actually perfect for me. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten through a full sized item before it expired. Definitely consider giving it a try! (Editors Note: For the vegans in the crowd (or is that just me?) you can try out the Vegan Cuts Beauty Box. I’m not super into make-up, but I got this as a gift for a friend once, and she really liked it.)
Bonus Free Things
No Car Living
Benjamin and I just passed a very special anniversary. 1 1/2 years car free! State College isn’t THAT big and since we get so much of our food delivered right to our door, we haven’t needed to drive anywhere. If we want to go home to KY we rent a car (for less than the cost of just insurance) and if we go elsewhere, we fly from here or a nearby airport or take a Mega-/Greyhound bus. Otherwise we walk. I walk a mile each way to/from campus every day (plus all over for Pokemon purposes). There’s plenty of bars, shops, parks, etc within walking distance to our apartment. If we need a ride, we have plenty of lovely friends who don’t mind helping out, but we also utilize Uber.
Unfuck Your Habitat
An amazing Tumblr resource for those necessary nudges you often need when stuck in an infinite scrolling pattern. I can’t count the number of times that even their simple nightly post has gotten my face unstuck from my screen. They provide all of their hints/suggestions/help on Tumblr for free, but also has an app and even a book coming out soon.
Again, with the disclaimer. These are definitely not things I do/buy every month. But it’s great to have the option to relieve some of the stress every once in awhile. If the stress is getting to you, please find someone to talk to. Whether it’s a friend or family member or professional, just talking through things can be very helpful. Most campuses offer free/reduced therapy sessions and I’ve found them to be quite helpful in the past. We’d also love to hear about your favorite conveniences that you’d recommend! As always, feel free to send us a message or tag us in your posts.