Opinion | Money management lost using meal plan, ‘monopoly money’
Published: Monday, March 18, 2013
Updated: Monday, March 18, 2013 23:03
Meal plans make it easier for students to ignore the high price of food on campus and spend more than they need to at markets and dining halls. With all of the added “discounts” linked to having a meal plan, they don’t just seem convenient, but necessary.
Not only are there meal plan options, but MUlaa money can also be added to use at print stations and vending machines, as well as MUBucks, which can be used at participating restaurants and stores off campus. The process of signing up for a meal plan is simple; with a simple click, parents or students can add any amount of money they see fit onto their ID. This can even be done from your phone. The editorial board of The Miami Student understands that a meal plan is almost a no-brainer for first-years and sophomores living on campus, but having an almost endless amount of money on a card to use at any dining hall or market we choose, can have its setbacks.
Referred to as “monopoly money” by some, meal plan money for students may sound like a no-brainer, but it seems to make spending too much money just too easy. The fact that a lot of students can blow $50 at MacCracken Market, or pay $20 for a meal at the Shriver Center may seem outrageous, but we have to admit, we’re even guilty of buying those huge Fiji water bottles and ten dollar Dividend$ salads, and we can’t be the only ones.
It’s hard to decipher between who wins and who loses in this meal plan predicament. Although Miami’s dining services is indeed a business and needs to make a profit, why does it seem like this Naked orange juice is just a little overpriced?
College is a time for us to dip our toes in the water, so to speak; to learn how to become financially responsible and live on a budget, but when students grocery shop on campus and pay with an ID card, it can be extremely hard to monitor what they spend, leaving many students feeling like they spend much more money than they need to when they have a meal plan versus when they shop off campus.
An item’s price isn’t as noticeable at campus markets as they are at Kroger, and when you aren’t handling cash or getting a receipt, it seems as if you just swipe and go, not worrying about the price of your shopping bag. Even at King Café, you tap your card for a latte, and if you stay an extra ten seconds to check your current balance, you feel like the people behind you are pushing you out of line. And God forbid if you’re that guy who pays with cash.
On top of that, when you go into the market and buy anything and everything you want, you don’t have self-control. Students simply pick things off the shelf and pass their parents the bill. How is this supposed to teach us money management?
In reality, though, it is our responsibility to be conscious of how we spend our “monopoly money.” It’s not hard to save money and live on a tighter budget, but we seem to make the conscious decision not to do so. And even in this bubble we call Oxford, we need to limit our desire for designer foods and see our meal plan money as real and limited.