Money + Lifestyle Part III: Healthy & Eco-Friendly Living on a Budget

About the Episode

Wanting to make the switch to a more eco-friendly lifestyle but don’t think it’s within your budget? Sustainability can be accessible for everyone if you use the tips from this episode of Making it Count! Featuring UCF Track & Field All-American Hurdler Rayniah Jones and returning Addition Financial expert Valerie Moses, you’ll learn how to eat healthy and be kinder to the environment without breaking the bank. Take a listen and read along below to this new episode of your favorite financial education podcast!

Making it Count Spotify Making it Count Apple Podcasts  


Will asks Question 1: “How important is it to have a budget as a college student – and how do you manage your budget?”

Rayniah responds: “When you don’t have a lot of money to spend, having a budget makes it less likely that you’ll overspend. It helps make me mindful about what I’m doing with my money and where it’s going. A lot of students want to prioritize supporting companies that are eco-friendly and budgeting is an important part of that. Ethically produced items may be a little more expensive than other products, but it’s super great to support the environment.”

“Personally, Truebill is an app that I have on my phone. It keeps a list of what subscriptions I have and what their due dates are. It keeps me aware of what’s coming up when I go to spend money elsewhere.”

Read More: Learn How to Budget Money in College (So You Don't Eat Ramen Every Night)


Cristina asks Question 2: “Valerie, there’s a lot of pressure to buy the new, greatest thing – but that’s not always the budget friendly or eco-friendly option. What can people do to be eco-friendly consumers?”

Valerie responds: “That's such a great question and that is really difficult in today's society to not buy the first thing that comes out. I know for me personally, I can be very tempted by that section in Target where there are all the discount items. But they add up and they take up a lot of space in your home. I'm really trying to take on a minimalist approach with a lot of that.”

“Living in this consumer-driven economy, it means that the focus really is on buying all the new things. But sometimes we don't need that, so really I think focusing on changing your mindset and reducing what you need to buy. Thinking, ‘Do I really need the newest thing or can I refurbish what I have?’”

“From a budgeting perspective, what I like to think about when I'm purchasing a new item is something that my dad taught me when I was making minimum wage in college. He said to think about how many hours of work it is going to take to purchase the item that I want to buy. And sometimes thinking about it in terms of the work that it takes makes me think, ‘Wow, I really don't need this. I don't need this taking up space in my home and I don't need to waste my money on it.’ So it helps you out two-fold: not being so wasteful and saving your money as well.”

Cristina asks a follow-up question: “Rayniah, do you have anything in your house that you regret purchasing?”

Rayniah responds: “I would definitely say my freshman year when I first had money for myself – you know getting money back from financial aid – I spent a lot of money on things that I didn't really need, but I was trying to do this to satisfy myself. That’s when I bought my first MacBook. I really wanted it so bad, but I didn't really need it. I still have the MacBook now, so I'm super grateful for it, but I could have bought something that was way cheaper since I just write papers on it.”

Cristina asks another follow-up question: “What about you, Valerie?”

Valerie responds: “For me, it's stationary and then clothing. I have too much of both.”


Will asks Question 3: “Rayniah, as an athlete, healthy eating must be a priority for you – but that’s hard on a budget. Sometimes processed foods are the cheapest foods. What are some things that people can do to eat healthy meals on a budget?”

Rayniah responds: “If you can, buy in bulk. Even as a student, you might be able to go in with your friends or roommates on a Costco membership – or even your family. That’s a great way to stock up on healthy food and snacks without overspending.”

“Buying generic brands is a good way to save on healthy food, too. They’re often identical to the name brand but much less expensive. You don’t need name brand foods to eat healthy.”

“Personally, I’m still working on this in my life, but it’s always going to be less expensive to cook at home than it is to order from Postmates, UberEats, DoorDash – whatever you prefer. It’s easier to eat healthy when you cook extra and eat the leftovers for lunch the next day.”

Read More: The College Student Budget That Lets You Eat More Than Cereal


Cristina asks Question 4: “Valerie, what are some simple food habits that will help us to live a more eco-friendly life?”

Valerie responds: “A lot of times when it comes to our food intake and the environment, we think we have to go vegan to protect the environment or that we have to make all of these changes to completely reduce our carbon footprint. But I think that keeps us from making any changes at all in our lives.”

“Instead, we can think about doing a meatless Monday or committing ourselves to not eating animal products before a certain time of day. Really, whatever is going to be sustainable for you. Looking for ways to change our mindset and being mindful about what we eat in terms of the environmental impact.”

“You can apply this concept to really any area of consumption: reducing the amount of single-use plastic that we use in the grocery store, for example. We mentioned using those tote bags or getting the mesh produce bags so you’re not also putting your produce in plastic.”

“When we do eat meat, we can look at purchasing pasture-raised meat from ethical, local suppliers that are grass-fed. And even reducing our carbon footprint through transportation. You don’t have to walk to work every day, but we could look into carpooling or taking public transit. For those of you in Central Florida, I recently took the Sunrail into downtown Orlando and it was amazing! I got to watch Netflix while going downtown at rush hour – not something you can safely do on the interstate.”

“So really, just looking into these different ways to make small changes and be mindful about how your daily habits impact the environment and the world around us.”

The Alumni Approved College Handbook for Incoming Freshmen


Will asks Question 5: “Rayniah, how important is it to plan your meals when you’re trying to be healthy on a budget?”

Rayniah responds: “As an athlete, you find that there's other athletes who meal prep because it's super important to watch what you're eating. The first reason is that it reduces the chances that you’ll grab something sugary or fatty when you’re hungry because you’ll have healthy foods available.”

“The second reason is that it helps to reduce food waste. If you take the time to think about what you’re eating all week and buy the foods you need to make everything, you can eliminate food waste and use everything by the time you’re ready for your next trip to the grocery store.”

“Planning your meals also helps to reduce impulse buying at the grocery store. When you know what you’re buying ahead of time, it’s easier to resist the middle aisles where all the processed foods are.”

Cristina asks a follow-up question: “Rayniah, you are a star athlete – what does your refrigerator look like?”

Rayniah responds: “I didn’t want to have to answer that because I’m also a victim of eating out too much. So my refrigerator has a lot of leftover food in it from eating out. I do try to have a lot of choices available for snacks and little meals. It helps that my university has a student athlete dining center that I get lunch at all the time. So while I don’t have time to cook my own food a lot of the time, it’s nice they have that available for us.”

“Other than that, if my roommates are cooking something, I will ask if I can have some. And they are always helpful and give me some of their home cooked meals.”

“At our Wednesday track and field meetings, our nutritionist will visit and stress how important it is to get the right amount of carbohydrates and protein so we properly fuel ourselves for practice and weightlifting.”

Read More: 8 Practical Money Saving Tips for Students on a Budget


Cristina asks Question 6: “Valerie, I know myself and a lot of others feel like eco-friendly living is all or nothing. But what can we do to get ourselves going into it?”

Valerie responds: “First recognize that we don’t have to reduce our carbon footprint to nothing. We live in the world and it’s not realistic for most of us to give up our cars and change every single thing about our lives. Instead, focus on what we can change.”

“Some examples include using those reusable bags in the grocery store. And really just reducing single-use plastic overall. Like bringing our reusable drinkware with us wherever we go that we can refill.”

“Another example, and I used to hear this all of the time as a kid, is that a lot of people run the water while they’re brushing their teeth. That’s two minutes of running water you could save.”

“An eco-friendly blogger I follow uses a product called flour sack towels. You can purchase these to clean up things around your home instead of using paper towels for everything. She actually cuts them into four smaller towels and uses them to clean surfaces. Certain things you may still want to have paper towels for, but these are great for using again and again.”

“One last suggestion is to focus on investing a little bit more into something that is going to last us a little bit longer. It may not be ‘budget-friendly’ right away, but overtime will save us money. I’m guilty of buying into the fast fashion brands, even though they end up ripping in the wash pretty quickly and don’t really hold up. Instead, I want to invest a little bit more money in quality clothing that I know is going to last longer.”


Will asks Question 7: “Rayniah, what are some eco-friendly swaps that college students (or anybody) can make in their dorm room or apartment?”

Rayniah responds: “This is something I want to be more conscious of and take time to research which cleaning products are toxic. It’s easy to find environmentally friendly products online. You can make the swap even more meaningful by buying concentrated products in recyclable packaging and using your own glass bottles to mix them – or even by making DIY cleaning products.”

“It’s also a good idea to stick to sustainable fabrics when you buy sheets and clothing. These products are sometimes a bit more expensive but they’re better for the planet and often, better made and longer lasting.”

“I would also recommend trying to use less electricity and less water. That might mean plugging everything into a power strip and turning the strip off when you can. Or just turning off or unplugging simple devices.”

Read More: College Student Apartments Ideas for Every Budget & Lifestyle


Will asks Quick Question 1: “Composting has become really popular. How can people who don’t own a house incorporate composting into their routine?”

Valerie responds: “It’s easy to find a countertop composter to collect your food scraps. You can use your compost to fertilize the plants in your apartment, which is pretty cool if you’re someone like me who bought a lot of house plants during the pandemic.”

“There’s also a really great app called ShareWaste where you can find out who in your area accepts compost and bring it out to them. This is helpful if you don’t want to do it at home or don’t have the capacity to do it.”


Cristina asks Quick Question 2: “What’s a way to reduce spending that we haven’t mentioned yet?”

Rayniah responds: “When I can, I buy second hand items. It’s possible to find lightly worn (or sometimes, even new) clothes at second hand shops. One of my go-to stores is Plato’s Closet. I like to go there with my roommates and we’ll pick out tops for game days so don’t feel bad cutting them up and DIYing our outfits.”

“You can also find small kitchen appliances, books… all kinds of things, for a fraction of the price of new items. Like renting your textbooks instead of buying brand new ones, especially with how much they cost.”


Cristina asks Quick Question 4: “In the US, we still have overflowing landfills and a lot of people don’t recycle. Why should they?”

Rayniah responds: “It’s kinder to the environment and it’s not really any more difficult than throwing things away in the garbage. I think sometimes people aren’t sure what’s recyclable and what isn’t, but that information is available online and once you get used to doing it, it’s easy. A lot of recycling bins even list what you can recycle on them – it just takes a few seconds of your day.”


Will asks Quick Question 5: “Americans use way more paper than any other country. What’s a quick way to reduce paper waste?”

Valerie responds: “Switch to paperless billing for everything – and request electronic statements from your credit union or bank. There’s no need to get paper statements when we can access and pay for everything online. I would also suggest unsubscribing from print publications and switching to a digital subscription instead.”


You can follow Rayniah Jones on Instagram and Twitter with @RayniahJones and if you’d like to receive $100, you can sign up for an Aspire or Choice checking account here.

Valerie Moses can be reached at and you can listen to episodes of her podcast here: Wellness and Wanderlust!


On this episode, Cristina and Will shared a previous Making it Count episode called A Crash Course in College Finances. From snagging scholarships and eating healthy on a budget to juggling a job, classes and still having a social life, this episode covers all things college. Our hosts interview Richard Barbari and returning guest Valerie Moses, both from the Community Engagement department at Addition Financial. If you’re a college student – or the parent of one – you won’t want to miss this episode!

Share This Episode of Making it Count on Facebook

The content provided here is not legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. Please consult with legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific needs or questions you may have. We do not make any guarantees as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not support any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability or legal obligations for your use of this information.