By Ethan Wells
Levi Sheffield, a graduate student at the University of Georgia, said he found a solution to rising food prices by sharing the bills with roommates and friends.
“We will cook and share the whole meal,” said Sheffield. “We split all the groceries evenly and that tends to cut down on the per meal cost.”
This strategy has cut around $10 per meal in comparison to eating out, Sheffield said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service reported food prices increased 9.9% in 2022. This growth rate is expected to decrease slightly in 2023, but the USDA still predicts food prices to increase 7.1%, which would still be above historical averages.
Wade Murdock, a senior at UGA, said he is spending significantly more at the grocery store than he had in past years.
“I usually shop for the same essentials when it comes to food, but the amount I spend seems to always get higher,” said Murdock.
These increases have put additional stress on college student’s budgets, and while food is a necessity, the increasing costs have brought renewed attention to how students manage their money whether this money is coming from parents or financial aid, said Ron Sages, a UGA professor who teaches financial planning.
Sages said despite rising prices, students have to learn how to manage their money to make ends meet, adding this comes at a time when there has been an increase in the number of classes that teach students how to manage their finances.
Alongside classes, Sages said there are many more outreach programs available for students such as the Aspire Clinic, which offers a variety of low-cost or no-cost services to individuals, couples, and families throughout the local community in Athens, Georgia.
Sages recommended students use any resource they have at their disposal. This includes attending financial clinics, taking financial literacy classes, or using budget apps to help manage their finances. Sages advised students to prevent impulse buying as much as possible, and said a practice as simple as not shopping while hungry is an easy way to cut down on impulse buys at the grocery store.
As for saving on food costs, Sages said awareness is an important part of managing spending, which includes being aware about the products bought and where they were bought. Looking for grocery stores with good deals and reward programs is also an easy way for students to save money, he said.
Being aware of financial surrounding is also important, he said, because people tend to pick up spending habits from the people they live with. Sages said that research has shown being around people who spend money outside of their means can influence a person to act in the same manner.
“Teenagers tend to pay closer attention to financial topics, apart from what they learn at home, they tend to pay much closer attention to their peers,” said Sages. “There is a great tendency for peer influence to shape how teens and people in their early 20s behave around their finances.”
Ethan Wells is a journalism student at the University of Georgia