As students tighten their belts, a night out is less affordable than ever

January 12, 2010 by  

Beer budgets are going bust in the economy downturn that is forcing students to forgo their usual entertainment expenditures.

Students are doing “anything to save money,” said Lindsay Meredith, SFU marketing professor and consumer-behaviour expert.

Luxuries, such as cars and dining out, are the first things to go. “God forbid, the beer budget may take a bust as well,” said Meredith.

Things as basic as a movie night can turn into serious money in a climate that’s forcing students to postpone any optional purchases. Students are shifting toward home entertainment, a trend Meredith calls cocooning.

Renting or downloading movies, house-to-house visiting and house parties are all on the rise, he said.

Meredith suggested considering laptop, iPod and cellphone costs seriously. “A lot of students insist on carrying that cellphone, but maybe that’s one of the things that should be dumped.”

Ten out of 15 students surveyed by the Chronicle said there’s no way they’d give up their cellphones to save money. Their monthly cell-phone bills average $70.

“Playing in the technology pool costs money,” said Meredith. “So if entertainment has to be provided by a technology medium, you’re going to have to pay for that. Get your head around trying to entertain each other.”

Azad Haddad, a 19-year-old engineering student, said he would ditch his phone in a heartbeat. “Why not?” he asked. “I’ve done it before. Communication is crucial these days but money comes first.” He said cell conversations are extra talk that eats up time with few benefits, when face-to-face conversations are a better alternative.

“[My days without my cell phone were] the best days of my life, having no headaches, no phone calls, nothing to worry about.”

Students get hammered by the recession, but other young adults fare better. Young adults in the work force are vulnerable to rising unemployment rates, but they are not tied down by the massive debt some students accumulate.

Students are expected to return to their night-out-on-the-town habits after the economy rebounds. Meredith said people do not give up established lifestyle habits easily.

More than half of the 50 Kwantlen students polled said that their entertainment consists of watching television or movies or using the computer.


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