I’m on a rant. Living on a student budget in Isla Vista isn’t easy. While I understand paying for unwanted expenses is the name of the game in adulthood, how is a student supposed to live today, yet save for tomorrow? I have a bone to pick with you, I.V.: Living here isn’t cheap!
What irritates me most about expensive costs is not merely the fact that tuition has risen and over 160 classes have been cancelled, not that students must buy copies of pricey books written by select professors, or that a bottle of Coke is $2.25 at The Arbor store on campus. No, it’s none of this. It is the inflated and unnecessary costs that students must pay because we have to: It’s I.V.
We’ve all gotten at least one: a parking ticket. The other day, I was finally feeling good. I paid off a chunk of my credit card, I had already bought books for the quarter—my fiscal weather forecast was clear. Then, I got a wonderful yellow parking ticket.
Even more maddening is the fact that I have paid at least $25 for parking passes over the past week in hopes that I would get to class on time, in the pouring rain and all, and leave citation-free. The combination of parking passes and my citation climbed to $60 in parking costs last week alone.
Frankly, these tickets are a deterrent to the less ambitious students, who simply do not attend class in the rain. Yes, some of us are spoiled (imagine living outside of sunny California) and yes, some of us bike to class rain or shine. But I have found there is a large population of students, upon taking a poll of the sparse classrooms during last week’s downpour, who do not attend lectures due to the combination of weather and sparse student parking on campus.
Besides putting a damper on class attendance, tickets cause students great financial setbacks. On January 1, 2009, UCSB Transportation & Parking Services increased citation penalties for cars illegally parked on campus property. Fees for standard permit violations were raised from $40 to $45, in order to be consistent with fees imposed by the City of Santa Barbara. With all the extra student costs, why do these tickets have to be just as expensive as the price of a Santa Barbara City ticket? For that matter, why are parking tickets so ridiculously expensive to begin with? Give us a break.
There is a rumor going around campus that there is no consequence for refusing to pay campus-issued parking tickets. “It’s not the police that hand out the tickets,” I have heard ticket-receivers say in the past. So why pay it? With this in mind, I tore up my citation at the site of issuance and sped off in my car—I was fuming.
Later, however, I found that it’s best to bite the bullet and pay now rather than later. “The cost of an unpaid citation is doubled, and the citation is referred to the Department of Motor Vehicles for collection,” the UCSB Transportation & Parking Services website reads. And another financial hazard is that “Vehicles with multiple outstanding citations may be immobilized or impounded at the vehicle owner’s expense. The vehicle will not be released until all outstanding citations are paid in full.” Yikes! No thank you, I’ll just pay the $45.
For those who still want to fight “The Man” or need time to scrape up extra cash: Appeal your ticket. I’m fighting mine, arguing that the parking spots were not marked properly. When you pull into one of the lots on campus near Campbell Hall, there is a sign that is hardly noticeable and discreetly blends into the landscaping. Any student in a rush could have missed this subtle warning. Once you appeal online, the Transportation & Parking Services grants a 21-day window before the time allotted to pay your ticket begins.
Parking ticket now in the past, I decided to be proactive and tried living on $10 a day just to see how far a penny rolls in I.V. A coffee in the morning, a Subway sandwich for lunch, and a homemade salad for dinner. Surprisingly I didn’t have to stoop to Top Ramen—not even on a ten-dollar student budget. Instead of stepping forward and backward in financial woes, step to the side and penny-pinch wisely. Thinking outside the box, I found there are many ways to live cheaply in I.V.
Here are my top tips for saving:
First of all, Costco lunch deals are a blessing. I’d recommend the pizza and limitless soda for $1.99. And if you wish to stay closer in, keep your eyes peeled for lunch and dinner deals at our downtown restaurants. Saving money isn’t about spending exactly when you want on what you want, it’s about playing your cards right.
In the mood for a movie date? The Magic Lantern, located in the Isla Vista Theater, hosts great films for only four bucks every Friday and Monday night. The Camino Real Movie Theaters in the Marketplace shopping center also offers student discounts every Tuesday night.
If you haven’t noticed this already, a word to the wise: The two gas stations on Storke Road, closest to I.V., are the some of most expensive in Santa Barbara. If you must, throw them a dollar just to get to another station and fill up there. They only gouge us because we let them.
One final tip: try to keep at least two bucks on hand for coffee or sodas. Most all coffee shops and liquor stores have a fee ranging from thirty cents to a dollar for credit and debit cards. I paid 2.45 for a cup of plain old coffee after a fifty-cent card charge.
Though it may seem simple, keep in mind that a penny here and there can add up to that extra buck towards rent after graduation. Or at least another plain cup of coffee! Now, go save money, and keep a look out for those pesky budget-draining parking signs!