Broke College Student’s Survival Guide
Top Ramen, toilet paper so thin it breaks at the slightest tug, and suffering in the cold because you can’t afford to turn your heat on—this is the life of a college student.
As a graduating college student in December, I know firsthand what it’s like to be barely scraping by week after week. My school expenses are about $30,000 per year. This does not include rent, food or utilities. Here are some ways I’ve been able to survive.
- You don’t have to do it all at once.
I know this may not be an option for everybody but when paying for college on your own, juggling work and school is crucial. This caused me to come to the realization that you don’t have to finish it all in two or four years. Some quarters I took fewer credits than others so I could work and ease the financial strain that taking more classes would have brought.
- More food equals more money. My guilty pleasure, and where most of my money goes, is to food. I’m a notoriously picky eater, and generally have a taste for more expensive foods. This is a death sentence for somebody who has to buy books that cost more than a dinner at Canlis. Because of this, I’ve learned that buying a family-sized serving of soup or a large size of food at a place like Buca Di Beppo can last for an entire week and only costs about 35 bones. Groceries usually run me about $70 a week when I cook for myself so deals like these can save me up to 40 bucks.
- Do-It-Yourself. This is all the craze right now with websites like Pinterest but it really does help to cut back on costs. Instead of paying for a gym membership, Run on public trails or a school track. Instead of getting your nails done, wax, paint and pluck yourself. Have a lot of birthdays and holidays coming up? There are plenty of ideas online for presents you can make or glamorize yourself and you don’t have to have a creative bone in your body.
- Go out on weekdays. I’ve found that there are a lot of cheap deals for fun activities going on during the week. I generally have more homework on the weekends so when I have the need for entertainment, weekdays work out best. Several movie theaters such as the Cinebarre have $5 Tuesdays, and multiple restaurants like Lola in Belltown have amazing prices for food and drinks from 4-6 PM.
- Apply! Apply! Apply! For scholarships, for food stamps, for unemployment benefits and any other program willing to help students or people with low income. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to my local Worksource office and been on the phone with Financial Aid. Any extra money for a student can go a long way but you can’t receive what you don’t apply for.
School is one of the most expensive life events so it’s essential to learn how to accomplish it without breaking the bank. If you are (or were) a student who knows additional ways to save, please share them with our readers using the comment section below.
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