We get it. You’re in college. You’re broke. You had a shoestring budget for a while. Then you had to sell the shoestring. When you hear loose change hit the floor, you dive for it. The last time you got a $5 tip, you started crying. Saving money? There’s no money to save. It all goes to your school or the phone company or your family. Here are a few ways to cut corners to make sure you have a little left over at the end of the month to buy luxuries like shampoo.
1. Planes are dumb. Keep your feet on the ground.
A plane trip home can be ridiculously pricey. Consider taking the train instead. I rode the Amtrak from New York to Chicago for $200 less than it would have cost to fly that same distance. And while you won’t be having the time of your life stuck on the tracks for 17 – 20 hours, your bank account will thank you for going the extra mile, figuratively speaking. You know what’s even more fun than that though? Road trips. If you have a friend who lives in your direction, find out if they’re driving home. If so, latch on and don’t let go because you might have just found your carpool buddy.
2. Spring breakin’ your heart? When school’s out, clock in.
This one might be hard to swallow, so I’m just going to give it to you straight: you might not get to leave for Spring Break. And yes, it is going to suck while all of your friends pile into cars and Snapchat you on their way to Montreal (apparently the go-to destination for northeast students). Don’t just sit in your room watching them update their stories. A lot of on-campus jobs have positions specifically for students who stay over break. Apply to them. And while you probably don’t want to spend your vacation time working, you’ll be earning money instead of losing it.
3. The dining hall is actually a grocery store.
No. Shh. Listen to me. When you swipe into your dining hall, you are essentially buying every piece of food in the building that is not already on someone else’s plate or in someone else’s mouth. When you leave the dining hall, you are leaving hundreds of pounds of food that has already been paid for. If you have a meal plan, please love yourself and stop going to the sketchy market that is only still in business because it is within walking distance to your school. Just take food from your dining hall to go. BAM. Breakfast is on the house.
4. Your residence hall is also a grocery store.
Let’s be real. Everything is a grocery store if you try hard enough. Remember that market that we’re not going to buy food from anymore? Well, we’re also not buying basic amenities. When cold season rolls around and begs you to buy every tissue box on the shelf, you march right into your community bathroom and take enough toilet paper to wipe every runny nose in Canada. I see you eyeing that vacuum cleaner on Amazon. Quit it. They leave the janitors’ closets unlocked for a reason. Just make sure you put all of the cleaning supplies back after you’re done. Those aren’t yours to keep.
5. Everyone wants to give you free food, and you want to take it.
So stop buying food, I’m begging you. Look on your school’s schedule of weekly events. I promise you, one of them is offering free food. Then actually go to it. This is especially useful at the beginning and end of each semester when every extracurricular group decides to simultaneously throw a picnic. Yes, it’ll mostly be cheap pizza. No, we don’t have a problem with cheap pizza. And if one of your friends wants to take you out to dinner and then offers to take care of the check? Do not try to stop them. Say thank you. Express your love for them. Free food is a blessing from the gift horse, into whose mouth you do not want to look.
College is where budgets go to die. Don’t let that stop you from trying, though. Avoid spending extra money and feed your piggy bank once in a while.