Saving While Spending

As students, many of us are constantly delegating our money to meet our basic needs. Between bills, textbooks, groceries, tuition, etc., there isn’t always any money in the budget for new clothing or decorating your space. Sometimes you have a little extra money and you’d like to get yourself something new. This is an opportunity to practice your smart shopping and get the most out of your money. 

Here are three things I do to save money when I’m shopping for clothing, food, or household goods:


  • Check clearance sections
    • Items can be on clearance for a million different reasons. When seasons change, so do the types of clothing, food, and household items at stores. Oregon is rainy nine months of the year, so take advantage of the clearance fall clothing and jackets that could be marked down as much as 80% in some places. These items could be useful for months to come in Oregon weather. I have also scored some of my favorite foods on clearance for a fraction of the price because they were approaching their sell-by date. Remember that many foods that have passed their date are still safe to consume!

The best clearance sections I have found in the Corvallis area are: TJ Maxx, Ross, Tuesday Morning, Safeway (specifically the Philomath Blvd location), and Fred Meyer.

  •  Shop Second Hand
    • Thrift stores are a great place to check, and second hand items are often heavily discounted. Goodwill has discounts on a different colors of tags each week! However, it is important to be mindful of what the rough retail price of items before you can be sure you got a good deal. Specialty thrift stores, such as ones that sell primarily vintage clothing, aren’t always as affordable as those that sell everything.

Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are both great resources for finding deals and also an opportunity to put your bargaining skills to work. In my experience, most sellers are willing to accept the best offers on their items. These are also great places to check for free items- especially during move out season (particularly the end of Winter and Spring terms) when folks are leaving Corvallis and get rid of things they no longer need. 

  • Compare prices
    • A mistake I made when I first began shopping on my own was buying the first item I saw on sale without checking the quality and quantity of the products to make sure I was actually getting a good deal.
      • When shopping for food, check the price per unit to ensure you’re shopping smart. For example: A box of 10 pudding cups for $2 may seem like a good deal, but you checked the prices and they’re 6 for $1 individually. By checking the price per unit, you’ve not only saved money but ended up getting 12 pudding cups for $2! That’s two for free and you saved some pocket change.
      • If you’re looking for something simple, like a black T-Shirt, check a thrift store for something that could work before heading to a department store. You may find what you need and save some money.

I hope these tips serve you well and allow you to save a few bucks the next time you’re out shopping!

Recipe: Banana Pancakes

As college students we hardly have time to have breakfast. Having something to eat before starting the day keeps our energy up and makes it a little easier to go on with the day! For our cooking class we prepared easy breakfast recipes that you all can try. This recipe was adapted from Good and Cheap by Leanne Brown. We have several copies of the book, you are welcome to come check out the cookbook!

Banana Pancakes:

Serves 4 (Makes 10-15)                                                           


2 cups all purpose flour

¼ cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon of salt

4 bananas

2 eggs

1.5 cups of milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Syrup for serving

  1. Combine the flour, brown sugar,baking powder,baking soda, and salt in a medium-size bowl. Mix thoroughly with a spoon.
  2. In another bowl, mash 2 of the bananas with a fork. Add the eggs,milk and vanilla, and mix well to combine.
  3. Add the dry mixture to the bananas, stirring with a spoon until everything just comes together. Tender pancakes come from not over mixing the batter.
  4. Let the mixture sit for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile slice the 2 remaining bananas.
  5. Turn the griddle to medium heat. Once its hot, melt a small amount of butter, about ½ teaspoon, in the skillet and ladle some pancake batter into the center of the pan.

Cook until it’s browned on both sides, about 30 seconds to 1 minute per side.

Serve hot with syrup plus the remaining banana slices.

Here to help

Navigating college as a first-generation college student can feel like making your way through a maze with no map, filled with “learn as you go” lessons, and “crap, I wish I knew this then.” When you combine that with being low-income, it can feel like you’re navigating the same maze blindfolded, on a tightrope, balancing multiple responsibilities. It should not be like this.

I started OSU in 2008 and graduated with my masters in 2014. Recently, I returned to OSU to serve as the first ever Basic Needs Navigator at the HSRC. My role boils down to connecting students to resources that help ensure basic needs are being met. I also support students as they navigate institutional policies and procedures in search of resources.

At the end of the day, I am most concerned with connecting students to resources (this often means $$$), so they may only worry about studying for midterms, not about how they will eat or pay for rent. Since July, I’ve helped students access over $161,500 dollars in resources. Keep reading to learn how I can help alleviate financial stress.

 Above are some common ways I help students access $$

I know firsthand how difficult it is to navigate college on your own. Of seven siblings, I was the first one to attend college. I have one memory in particular about my transition to OSU, no matter how far removed I am from it, I feel what I felt then by just thinking about it. 10 years ago, I was walking across from where my office is now, Champinefu Lodge, eating cheerios out of the box- it was the only thing I had eaten that day. I had no money to buy anything else. Out of the blue, I began to sob as I stuffed handfuls of Cheerios into my mouth. It was 10pm, dark with no lighting, I assumed no one would see me cry. I had never felt so alone in my life. Not knowing where to go or who to turn to for help, I felt like I had no choice but to get through this experience alone. “Who else would be experiencing this in college?”I thought to myself.  

The reality was that I was not alone in my experience. Of the 970 OSU students who applied to the Food Assistance Application in the Fall of 2018, 54% percent were “very-low food secure” as determined by USDA’s Definition, with 18%  of applicants reporting to have gone an entire day in the past 12 months without eating because of financial concerns. That is 172 students, 42% higher than last year when 117 students reported that!

I was not alone in my experience back then, and you are not alone in your experience today, WE SEE YOU! The HSRC is here to help.

What can I help you with?

Almost anything! I’m kind of like a generalist who is pretty savvy about finding things out and navigating resources. I get paid to navigate, it’s literally in my title! If I do not know the answer to your question, I  know the person who does & I will walk you over to meet them (unless it’s raining. I can’t do wet socks). Here are some common things I can often help with:

      • Access to  food & groceries
      • Unforeseen emergency expense causing barriers to enrollment
      • Tuition refund due to an extenuating circumstance
      • Lost scholarships due to unforeseen circumstances
      • Finding help paying for utility bills
      • Signing up for Oregon Health Plan
      • Grant money!- parent lost a job/financial situation does not reflect that of 2016 tax year?
      • Financial Assistance with a medical bill/emergency
      • Pell/financial aid running out a few terms away from graduation!
      • Hard time making ends meet
      • Feeling like you are a bill away from homelessness
      • Place to stay- homeless or housing insecure
      • Financial stress!

Why should you come see me?

“Miguel came in clutch when I needed help with resolving a hold I had on my account.” – HSRC student fall 2018

I helped 120-ish students access over $161,000 since I started in July. You might be missing out on resources that you would otherwise be receiving. Looking back at my college experience, I identified over $10,000 dollars that I missed out on because of bad advising or not being aware of resources. I will do everything I can to try to make sure that you will leave our meeting with knowledge of at least one new to you resource ($$) that you have access to, if not more.

Don’t take my word for it. Here are what your peers have to say:

I will try my hardest to figure things out together

“I took your advice… and I was awarded a scholarship of $1360 to cover my balances. As of right now, I have been able to sign up for a few of my classes…. I am forever grateful”

“Miguel’s best quality is empathy, he connects with the student in a way that he feels the student’s pain and stress, this leads him to want to fight and resolve the issues!…”

You might leave with a lot more than what you came in for

“Miguel has your back. Not only will he help you with what you’re seeing him about, but if he overhears another concern he will help with that too.”

“…Meet with Miguel about financial aid, food stamps and finding other financial help. He helped me so much!!! I really appreciate him”

Wrap around support in a supportive space

“Going into these types of meeting can be difficult because suddenly you are talking about yourself and the difficulty of your situation, which is hard to talk about in itself…Miguel works with you to meet you in a spot that you leave with a plan or next move and is focused on your overall well-being and your individual needs.”

“Miguel is very understanding and knowledgeable. He’ll ask you questions to get a full understanding of your situation without prying for any personal detail. He’s really pleasant and easy to talk to.”

I am here to support you!

You should not feel alone in your experience. College and academics are hard as it is- financial stress is the wrong kind of rigor many student face. Let me work alongside you to make it a little less stressful by connecting you to resources.

If you would like to find a time to meet or have questions, please email me at


How do I know if I have Work-Study?

What is Federal Work-Study?

Federal Work-Study provides funding for part-time jobs for undergraduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses.

Who is eligible for Federal Work-Study?

To be eligible for Federal Work-Study, you need to have completed the FAFSA application by the priority deadline.  Students must be enrolled at least part-time to receive Federal Work-Study funds. The OSU Financial Aid Office determines the eligibility of all students who apply for Federal Work-Study funding.

How do I know if I have been offered Work-Study?

To check if you were offered Federal Work-Study funds as part of your financial aid award, log into myOSU, go to the “Paying for College” tab and follow the link on the right side to view your Financial Aid Award. You should see Federal College Work Study listed with an amount if it has been offered to you. You may then choose to accept this amount. You can watch this video for more details about how to accept your Federal Work-Study funding.

Finding a job

Once you have accepted your Federal Work-Study, you need to find and apply for a job in order to receive these funds. There are both on and off campus employers that may hire you as a Work-Study student.

All student jobs at OSU can potentially be Work-Study jobs (certain restrictions may apply). To search for positions with the OSU Office of Human Resources go to  Select the STUDENT bar, then search the postings which are available under the Position Type: Student. Some jobs may be listed as “Work-Study only,” and others may not. You will need to let your prospective employer know that you have a Work-Study award so that you can be hired as a Work-Study student.

If you would like to consider off-campus employers, these jobs are posted through the Career Development Center using Handshake. Search for off-campus work-study eligible jobs here. Click the “Jobs” tab at the top and use the filter to check-off work-study jobs.

You may work up to but not more than 20 hours a week combined for all student employment, including Federal Work-Study jobs.

Work-Study and SNAP

Did you know students with a Work-Study job may be eligible to receive SNAP  benefits (food stamps) to alleviate some of the financial burdens related to purchasing healthy, nutritious, foods? You can apply for SNAP online here, or contact the HSRC for any questions about how to apply.


Do you need help on ways that you can save your money? Well my name’s Karen, a fourth year student majoring in Merchandising Management and I’m going to tell you some of the things I’ve done to save as much money as I can!

1. FREE FOOD: First of all when people say that they take advantage of the free food; let me tell you, we aren’t joking!

  • Seriously tho, take advantage and go to all and any events that provide free food.
  • Even if you may feel embarrassed, just go because chances are that most of the people attending are just going because of the free food (who doesn’t want to save money on a meal and or dont have the time to cook their own meal.)
  • This applies to you especially when you’re not living on campus anymore and you’re on your own… It’s a struggle trying to find/make time to prepare a meal
  • How I’ve found about free food on campus;
    • List serves that i’m on from either my particular college I’m in, clubs I’m a member of, special program I’m in (CAMP, TRIO, EOP), departments on campus (DCE, SSI, SLI), and the cultural centers
    • Also following different OSU pages in social media that will post events (facebook and twitter)
      • Twitter= @EatFreeOSU

2. GROCERY SHOPPING: I’m not picky at all on where to go grocery shopping, and if you aren’t either and want to save money → Go grocery shopping at Winco!

  • But I mean if you feel the need to go buy your groceries at Trader Joes then by all means you do you, but if you’re trying to save money probably not your best option…

3. SNAP: I get food stamps in order to have enough money to pay my bills and not be stressing on money for groceries.

  • If you’re a full time student and get work study through FAFSA you should be eligible for SNAP → Apply (it doesn’t hurt to try), extra money for food is always good!

4. Textbooks: In case you don’t already know, textbooks are expensive especially buying them from the OSU Bookstore!

  • Textbook lending →  I take advantage of the textbook lending program at the HSRC; where students are able to borrow books for the whole term at no cost! You can check if the HSRC has the books you need either online at: or by going into the office
  • Scanning chapters → If you search on   and the book is at the library I go and checkout the library for the 3 hours and scan the important chapters that are needed for the class (since we don’t go over the whole book).
  • Renting → If I can’t find the book at either the textbook lending program or at the library then i will search and see if there’s a possibility for me to rent my book (which is cheaper than buying the book). You should search and try and find the place where it’s the cheapest to rent the book(s). Places where i have rented my book from: Amazon, Chegg, osu bookstore

5. Classes: If you’re able to stay in Corvallis the whole year then summer classes are a way to go!

  • Usually summer classes will be cheaper over the summer than during the rest of the school year, so if you can I would try and go with that option!
  • Also if you like learning at a fast pace than you can register for classes that are only a couple weeks (which you could potentially take the same or more classes for cheaper over the summer).

6. Driving: I personally don’t drive my car around much.

  • I take the public bus to campus, which is also very convenient if you have a job on campus (you don’t have to pay for a parking pass -which is expensive, and you save money on gas).
  • You can also ride a bike if you’re not in walking distance of campus, and prefer not to take the bus.

7. Living: rooming with multiple people can always help you save money!

  • If you are cool with sharing a room, I would highly encourage you to do so (I have shared a room with my best friend for 3 years now). This has helped cut our rent expense by half!