Living in Davis is expensive, so here are some tips to help you live within your means.



  • Ditch Banks with monthly fees that drain your accounts. Open up a free checking account at a Credit Union. The credit unions in Davis offer free checking accounts with no monthly fees. You can save a lot of money in the long run. For example, if your bank charges you a $10 monthly checking account fee, this can add up to $120 a year. A free checking account from a not-for-profit credit union will save you money and you can even get free check orders (normally costs about $15-$35).
  • If you use a lot of ATMs and are tired of ATM fees, you can sign up with a bank or credit union that offers ATM fee refunds. First Northern Bank will refund ATM fees from other banks' ATMs if you provide your receipts to the bank within 60 days. USAA (United Services Automobile Association), which formerly had an office in Sacramento, is an online insurance and banking company that offers ATM fee rebates (Up to $15 in ATM fees refunded per month). USAA checking and savings accounts are open to military members, former military, and people who are related to military members. Deposits are done by mail and some members are eligible for deposit via mobile phones and through some UPS stores. You might want to go with a local credit union or bank for easier ways to deposit money. They don't have any bank branches in California.
  • If you want cash but you don't like ATM fees, you can use your ATM/Debit Card for cash back at the register. Drug stores and grocery stores offer this feature. You can enter your PIN and get cash back. Usually, this is free of charge.
  • If your credit card has an annual fee or a high interest rate, you can shop around and see if a credit union offers credit cards without annual fees. Also many credit unions offer credit cards with better interest rates than banks and credit unions usually offer better loan rates than banks due to their not-for-profit statuses. This can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars on home loans or car loans.
  • Credit Unions often offer better rates on car loans and home loans. You can save a tremendous amount of money by getting loans from a credit union versus a for-profit bank.
  • Golden 1 Credit Union offers a free box of checks with a free student checking account.
  • Travis Credit Union, USE Credit Union, and Yolo Federal Credit Union also offer a free checking accounts.
  • Simply shopping around for the best deals can save you money.


See Special Drink Nights

Buy Used

Discount Programs

  • AAA Discount AAA offers very inexpensive emergency auto care (including free towing). They have discounts at local businesses such as Rite Aid and CVS/Pharmacy for prescriptions; check the AAA page for a list of local participating businesses.
  • Bikram Yoga Davis has a $20 try out where you get 10 consecutive unlimited days of yoga (normally one visit is $15).
  • Consumers Guide Davis - Direct mail coupon booklet. Mailed monthly. They have Internet coupons too.
  • The Davis & Woodland Coupon Directory published quarterly since 1989 by Business & Consumer Trade at (530) 758-7079. Pick up this 34-coupon booklet at the Memorial Union information booth.
  • The Davis Shoppers Guide - A monthly mailing with coupons, sales, specials, and discounts. You can also print out the coupons online at
  • Entertainment Book (Sacramento edition) - 2-for-1 specials: a few Davis locations and a zillion Sacramento spots. On sale for $35-45 at Golden 1 Credit Union, through and through various charitable groups.
  • Little Green Coupon Machine - Over 70 coupons for many different services in Davis. Comes at the beginning of every quarter in the mail. Sometimes it can be picked up outside the MU (near the ATMs) if someone is tabling.
  • Bounty and Savings - Local saving blog with coupon matchups on grocery and drug store sales.
  • Ninja card - Another card, this one you have to pay for—but they are free for freshmen. Check out their website, although some of their deals are listed on Discounts and Freebies.
  • Rewards Network - A clever innovation in discount technology, formerly called iDine. No cards to present. You just associate this discount program with various credit card numbers and you get a credit back on your credit card bill. This is especially nice for a date when you don't want to look like the cheapskate that you really are. Typical discount is around 20%. See Rewards Network website.
  • Sacramento Bee - Sunday edition. Has a large coupon section for groceries and personal care items. Visit here for their Sunday Paper only subscription.
  • SBC Yellow Pages for Yolo County Otherwise known as the phone book. This has "SBC Smart Coupons" in the back. They're called "Smart" because you're smart if you ignore them altogether. There are two pizza coupons which might be worthwhile, if you're going there anyway.
  • SOS card - Comes with membership to SOS and scores you good deals and savings at our local sponsors as well as Tahoe sponsors.
  • Student Advantage Card - Offers various deals at local business (for example, Woodstock's Pizza and Ben & Jerry's, and many more), as well as on a national level, such as discounts on Amtrak fares. To get one, visit their website.
  • Super Saver Card - Discounts at 17 local retailers.


  • Cheap Food or Free Food
  • Happy Hour Food Specials
  • Baskin Robbins tends to give you a pint of ice cream if you give a pint of blood at Blood Source
  • Taqueria Guadalajara has a huge burrito for $4.65. It is practically two meals and you get unlimited chips and salsa with it.
  • Visit here for a google map of fruit trees in Davis. The map is public and collaborative, so please add trees if you know of their locations. (You must have a google sign-in.) Use push-pins to mark the locations of trees. If the tree is on private property, please indicate that in the note, and only mark it after getting permission from the owner first.
  • Free Munchies at Bars


  • Free Food
  • Free Checking: Get free checking deals at credit unions and some banks. You can save a lot of money each year by choosing a free checking account that has no monthly fees.
  • Golden 1 Credit Union offers a free box of checks with a free student checking account.
  • Linux
  • Free DVD rentals: Redbox Free rental codes: breakroom and dvdonme. You can use these codes once per credit/debit card. Use different cards and you can get more free rentals.
  • Free Software - You don't have to buy Microsoft Word to write your term paper. There are open source, free office suites from OpenOffice, Google(sign in with email address),, etc. You can also find free antivirus software at CNET Free antivirus examples are AVG, Avira, Avast. There are also free malware programs such as Malwarebytes that you can use along with antivirus. It is a good idea to run antivirus periodically such as once a day.
  • The Freecycle Network (Davis chapter here: is an online forum for stuff people no longer want, but can still be useful to someone else. Get stuff for free, and ease the pressure on landfills at the same time!
  • The East Davis Library in a Box and Central Davis Library in a Box offer an assortment of free books and magazines to borrow. No requirements or restrictions.
  • The Yolo County Library has books, movies and CDs you can borrow for free once you have a library card and have proven your residency.
  • Free Munchies at Bars



  • For the un/underinsured, check out the Davis Community Clinic for primary care medical services, or the Davis Community Acupuncture Clinic (not affiliated) for affordable acupuncture.
  • If you are a student and already insured through your parents, opt out of the Student Health Insurance Plan. Otherwise you are paying $588 each quarter for redundant coverage.
  • Discount stores such as Target, etc. feature a small list of $4 and $10 medications. Some basic medicines are available at those prices. Not all medicines are on that cheap list. There are some medicines that are more expensive. You can print out a list and give it to your doctor.
  • AAA Discount AAA offers discounts at local businesses such as Rite Aid and CVS/Pharmacy for prescriptions; check the AAA page for a list of local participating businesses.
  • Costco offers many prescription drugs at lower prices than at other pharmacies. Non-members can use the pharmacy. However, they only accept cash or debit.
  • Many drug stores and supermarkets offer store brand versions of medications such as Tylenol. The generic store brand is listed under Acetaminophen. You can save several dollars just by choosing the store brand. The store brand medications contain the same active ingredients and are just as safe and effective. Big corporations advertise Tylenol and other brand names such as Claritin to try to fool people into spending the extra money for the brand name, when the store brand generic equivalent contains the same active ingredients. Don't fall for the advertising. Save money by going with whatever is cheapest.
  • Kaiser Permanente The Kaiser pharmacy sells a variety of over the counter products at prices lower than at drug stores. You can save a great deal of money by buying your over the counter medications at the pharmacy. For example, generic Claritin is only $9.95 for 100 tablets. They also have Allegra and generic Zyrtec at steep discounts. The generic Tylenol is only $4.95 for 100 caplets. Non-Kaiser members have been able to purchase these products without having to show a Kaiser card.


  • The price you pay for Internet access is always negotiable. Call your Internet Service Provider every so often and tell them you're thinking about switching to someone else. Ask them if they can make it worth your while to stay and they can almost always come up with a deal. Also works for cable, phone service, credit cards and insurance. Remember, it never hurts to ask.

Out of town destinations for cheap(er) things

Electronics / Computer Parts

General Big-Box

Warehouse Stores

Grocery Stores

Outlet Malls

  • Napa Outlets
  • Vacaville Outlets Please note, that outlet stores often sell goods that are specially made for Outlet stores. These could be lower quality products or slightly defective merchandise that did not meet standards for the regular department stores.

Tech/Professional Schools

( Note: you do not have to be a student to use these deals, however the person doing the service may be a student )


  • The IRS website lists various vendors that offer free tax filing with a free e-file. E-file allows you to submit your tax return electronically and you do not have to mail anything. link You can file a Federal tax return for free. Just choose a vendor. Some examples are TaxAct, TurboTax, and H&R Block At Home. State tax returns are not free from these companies.

However, you can visit California's state tax website and file your State Tax return for free using CalFile. CalFile allows you to file your state tax return electronically and you do not have to mail anything. link You can get a free federal tax return from the companies above and then file for free from the State of California. In this way, you can do your both of your tax returns for free as long as you qualify for a free CalFile. CalFile allows you to e-file online and it is much faster than a traditional mailed tax return.

The advantage to online free e-file from these companies is that it is fast and convenient since it is online.


Volunteering can help you feel like you are giving back to the community. On top of that some events can get you free admission to a lot of fun/interesting events in Sacramento, typically food, and occasionally a free T-Shirt. The only drawback is you may need a car to get to the event since it is not in Davis.

Do not volunteer if you don't believe in the cause. You are there to help them, and being opposed to what they do is not going to help anyone. Do consider your own values when volunteering.

The following list are events that can net you some pretty sweet things for the cash strapped student.

  • Free California State Fair Tickets and Parking. Contact the Sacramento Visitors and Convention Bureau and ask about volunteering at various events. You work a few hours and then get into the events for free. They have events throughout the year, and always need volunteers. Do it often enough, they may start calling you. It is a Sacramento centered organization, but they take everyone so fear not about your non Sacramento residence status.
  • Sacramento Jazz Jubilee is held every year over Memorial Day Weekend in May. Volunteering for them nets you an all weekend pass (a $90+ value) plus other goodies.
  • Make a Wish Foundation of Sacramento has fundraising events throughout the year and treats their volunteers pretty well. Alpha Phi Omega volunteered at an event last May and they were given several flats of leftover sandwiches to take home with them after the event.
    • RogerClark's wife is their volunteer coordinator, so he would be remiss in not including them.
  • Infineon Raceway at Sears Point is a killer place to go watch the races, but tickets can be steep for the college student. Volunteers get in to them for free. If you can't do it directly with them, they may point you to charity groups that work it as a fundraiser and need volunteers.
  • There are a lot of other events throughout Davis that need volunteers. It may not net you much in terms of goodies, but you can be working at killer locations at events and have a better view that most other people.

Also see Volunteer Opportunities (where this stuff really should be).


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2004-11-21 11:48:15   Somehow, I feel something is wrong with the idea behind this page. If you want to live cheap, don't buy as much. Every single thing on the page though is about spending money. Maybe, I'll link to parks and games and stuff when I have time. - JackHaskel

2004-11-21 12:18:23   I like that idea. Also, though, sometimes you really do need to buy food, clothes, etc, and places like Costco are usually cheaper. Shopping wiser overall — spending less, buying less — is a better idea, for sure. Maybe we could have some links to like inexpensive foods and inexpensive recipes? - PhilipNeustrom

2004-11-21 12:21:19   Or maybe more of a guide to spending less while in Davis would be useful — maybe it should go here and then from here we link to this place (maybe named "Buying stuff for less" or something) - PhilipNeustrom

2004-11-24 18:55:24   The falacy at work here is that people who buy things from Costco buy stuff they don't need. I think that may be true of most Costco shoppers, but many of us Davisites prefer Costco because they sell larger sizes and therefore less packaging per oz of product (i.e., better for the environment)—and AT A LOWER COST. The Costco parking lot is filled with Davis vehicles, so obviously the soccer moms know about this place. Too bad there's fuel involved, but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do. I don't know if anyone has ever figured out how much money you can save by buying necessities outside Davis, but I'm fairly certainly you can stretch a dollar twice as far. Here's the sad thing, most of the stores in Davis sell useless, overpriced TRINKETS—which is where most of the anti-costco people think we should be shopping instead. I wonder if the Davis city counsel realized that Cost Plus may eventually drive all those tricket dealers out of business. I also love the co-op, but I think they have become somewhat lazy in trying to get their members the best deals, because people are willing to buy products with a very high base cost (despite their professedly low markup), while you can get the same products for much less elsewhere. Take for example Tom's of Maine products, way too pricey. Bottom line, at Costco, I can get a 5 pound bag of tortilla chips for $3, I can get 16 eggs for $1, and they have a modest selection of organic veggies for WAY less. But hey, I suppose if you want to avoid buying things, you could always make your own soap. Fight club, anyone? - JaimeRaba

2004-12-02 10:10:05   Costco can be cheap for large groups of people trying to live cheaply together. An apartment of 6 guys can get a whole lot of paper towels, soda, laundry detergent, etc, for much cheaper. - RohiniJasavala

2004-12-12 18:59:36   I added the big box stores walmart and target. Both are generally good with prices, however I find both carry lower-quality items (you get what you pay for). Best to buy things from these stores where they can't really mess up the quality (packaged foods, etc). - JamesDawe

2005-02-01 21:03:01   I hear tell the target in woodland is packing up shop. Does anyone have an ETA on this? —ArlenAbraham

2005-02-02 11:20:04   I heard the target in woodland is closing when the new target in davis opens in 2006 —MyaBrn

2005-02-04 16:24:21   For those of you are serious about saving money and living cheaply, redeeming recycled goods and dumpster diving should be looked into. —ErnBro

2005-02-09 17:44:44   So here is a challenge/question for y'all. I have a bunch of friends coming in from out of town for a thing, and they are big Sake drinkers. They appreciate good Sake when they are sober, but once they are drunk any Sake will do. So... with that in mind, does anybody know where I can find a lot of Sake around here, for not a lot of cash? —EricKlein

2005-02-10 08:48:07   RE Sake: Try Kim's Mart... they probably have the large size bottles of drinking sake. Don't make the mistake of trying to drink cooking sake, as I once did. Yuk! Anyway, if Kim's doesn't have the large bottles of drink and you have a vehicle, Sac has a large Asian market on Broadway [near 10th by the motorcycle club] that definitely has a good selection of the big bottles. —AlphaDog

2005-02-10 08:54:35   Nugget often, but not always, has good sales on Sake. —JackHaskel -i'm hungry, why must nutella be so damn expensive...i could live off that stuff

2005-10-17 02:19:15   I have to say for all the people who put down places like Walmart and Sam's Club obviously do not shop for themselves and think that money must grow on trees. Also for all those people who oppose a Super-Walmart are idiots. If u rather spend up to and close to $70.00 for like 20 items at Safeway, be my guest. But here is some advice find a friend with a car and go shopping at places like Costco or Sam's Club and see how much money you have left over in the month to pay for other things. I also stress shopping at places like Food 4 Less or the Grocery Outlet in Woodland. Food 4 Less happens to be aligned with Nugget Markets, so I highly doubt the food quality is any different. But for those who have a level of skepticism that borders on stupidity keep on shopping at those expensive places. —MikeMele

  • Costco can save you plenty of money if you shop wisely, refrain from buying items you're gonna wind up throwing out, and care about good quality products. Lots of their products are equivalent to sale items at supermarkets, but there are certain key items that save tons of money without needing to wait for a sale. Salad Greens, batteries, Olive Oil, cheese, toiletries, soda, baking goods, alcohol, aluminum foil, and spices are all cheaper there than at Walmart. Plus, you don't have to worry about items expiring in two days like when you shop at Grocery Outlet.

2007-01-04 18:44:31   Winco in Vacaville has a bulk food section (unlike Food4Less) and they are better quality than Grocery Outlet. Check out —LinaPlanuty

2007-12-13 12:03:50   There should be an entertainment section as well. You can "rent" movies for free at the public Library. —MyaBrn