Along with living with a roommate, learning to manage my time, and adjusting to a new, freer schedule, one of the biggest learning curves I encountered as a newly minted freshman was learning how to budget my meal plan. As an avid snacker, the prospect of hundreds of points that could be spent however I pleased was almost overwhelming. Like many other Swatties, over time I have developed favorite on-campus dining locations and fare. I personally am loyal to the Science Center Coffee Bar, where I frequently pick up a morning iced coffee (with one shot of vanilla) or an afternoon cup of White Orchard tea to go alongside my snack. During my freshman year, I was a huge fan of the Indian food catered to Kohlberg café, but my daily expenditures quickly exhausted my supply of both Dining Dollars (on campus) and Swat Points (off campus). We have a wealth of food choices at Swarthmore, and with that variety comes a wide range of spending habits. I would locate myself toward the big spender side of the spectrum, and I’ve always been in awe of my friends who somehow finish the semester with hundreds of points. It is for this reason that I seek to understand and profile the various types of Dining Dollar (and Swat Point) spenders.
At the beginning of the semester, the Splurger’s seemingly endless OneCard balance is burning a hole in their pocket. You can find the Splurger perusing the aisles of Essies for new snacks or enjoying their daily samosa in Kohlberg. The splurger is all about instant gratification and living in the moment, and they aren’t afraid to try new foods or coffee configurations. The splurger is constantly suggesting a trip to Bamboo Bistro, where they’ll order everything that looks good. Even the coveted Parrish Plan will ultimately not be enough for the Splurger, who may begin exhibiting more traits of the Budgeter by mid semester.
For the Budgeter, every new semester is an opportunity to flex their budgeting muscle. The Budgeter painstakingly calculates the maximum amount of points that they can spend each week, even taking days off into account. The budgeter gets the same drink from Sci Coffee Bar every morning and the same snack from Essies every night. The budgeter may go for occasional trips to the ville, but will not go nearly as often as the Splurger. The Budgeter never has to check their OneCard balance– they have a running total in their head at all times. By the end of the semester, the Budgeter will have just enough points to treat themselves during finals week.
As far as the Saver is concerned, Swat Points and Dining Dollars might as well not exist. Unlike the Budgeter, I have observed that many Savers do so unintentionally. They simply don’t think to buy a late night snack from Sci Coffee Bar, and aside from occasional trips to Hobbs Coffee, the Saver rarely ventures into the Ville. By the end of the semester, the saver has a OneCard balance that many Splurgers would find unfathomable. If you are lucky enough to have Saver as a roommate, as I did last year, you may get to experience the thrill of visiting Essies at the end of the semester with seemingly endless points. Not wanting to waste their precious points, the saver is no stranger to the last-minute shopping spree.
I hope you enjoyed this brief survey into the types of Swat Point (and Dining Dollar) spenders. Which one sounds most like you?