By Mimi Wright, University of Missouri

I get it. Greasy, warm, salty Chick-fil-A chicken paired with their signature sauce is a killer. So is a fresh, hot burger from McDonald’s. And tacos from Taco Bell. And Sonic slushies with Nerds. Where was I?

Oh, yes. While these mouth-watering delicacies are easy, fast and tasty to indulge in, the reality is that it’s killing the bank accounts of college students, me included. It’s easy to hop in the car with your roommates when they go on their weekly trip to Chipotle, but the reality is that fast food is draining your bank account one large fry and coke at a time.

Fast food is everywhere; it’s difficult to pass up, especially because it is so tasty and (seemingly) cheap. But as a senior living in a house off campus, the reality is that fast food has become my go-to more than I would like to admit; it’s my bank statement that now holds me accountable.

But I’m not alone, and neither are you. According to a study by the Food Distribution Research Society that was analyzed by the New York Times, 70% of college students surveyed had fast food at least once a day. I wasn’t too surprised to see that high of a number considering I have a friend who eats Chick-fil-A at least four times a week (her metabolism is insane).

What does surprise me is my bank statement for the month of September reflected a total of $122.63 that I spent on fast food. Multiply that by 12 months, and you come to the ridiculous total of $1,471.56, which is simply absurd and completely preventable. It’s an alarming issue that I am now coming to terms with.

With student loan debt continuing to soar, every penny counts for those of us who are struggling to make ends meet. According to Business Insider, student loan debt is now over $1.5 trillion. Furthermore, college students are graduating with an average of $29,800 in debt, according to Student Loan Hero. We don’t have money to burn, so the thought of spending almost $1,500 on something as basic and unhealthy as a McDonald’s Happy Meal is illogical.

I have begun to look more into prepping meals for the week, instead of depending on my grumbling stomach to decide what to eat. By prepping meals, it saves money and also calories that can quickly add up. According to Marketwatch, the cost of going out to eat or getting take-out food is rising at the fastest pace in more than four years. This shocking statistic is reflected in the pain I feel when I see my balance steadily falling. Making food at home will save a chunk of cash that can then be used to pay for rent, other living costs, or yes, student loans. It’s also much healthier, which is an added bonus in the grand scheme of things.

Looking into your frequent expenses is helpful in determining where more money can be saved. While I might splurge from time to time on a spicy Chick-fil-A sandwich, it’s important to keep the spending in check, especially when there are other more important costs looming in the future.

Wright is a senior at the University of Missouri, majoring in journalism and German.