How to Avoid Going Totally Broke by Summer Vacation

Ways to live cheaply in college without hating your life.

Your student ID will help you save money both on campus and off campus.

Going away to college can often cause some personal financial stress. Since you’re no longer under your parents’ roof, certain freebies become a thing of the past: snacks, medicine, meals, gas, the list goes on and on. Welcome to semi-adulthood, where the whole “money thing” becomes increasingly important and, not coincidentally, more annoying. Here are some tips on how to live cheaply while remaining a functioning, fun member of society.

When your bank account is at an all-time low, learn to snack cheaply. We’re talking peanut butter, ramen and grilled cheese – basically, whatever you ate voraciously in the third grade.

1. Work that student I.D.

Your student I.D. can do more than just get you into dorms and dining halls; it’s a beautiful gift that keeps on giving in the form of cheap movie tickets, discounts at restaurants and other random money savers. Don’t be ashamed to whip it out whenever and wherever if it’ll save you a few bucks. (Side note: hold onto your I.D. after you graduate, too. You’ll likely be just as broke as you are now, and you can pull off the “student” thing until you’re at least 25. Don't worry, we won't tell anyone.)

2. Make peanut butter your best friend.

When your bank account is at an all-time low, learn to snack cheaply. We’re talking peanut butter, ramen and grilled cheese – basically, whatever you ate voraciously in the third grade. Who said anything about being an adult? Save money on food by going with the tried and true basics.

3. Look into on-campus jobs.

Most schools offer part-time jobs on campus that are convenient, easy and put cash directly into your pocket. Look for openings at eateries around campus, or better yet, at libraries and dorms, as these jobs usually require you to simply sit there and get paid to do your homework (or, you know, watch YouTube videos of people crashing into things. Whatever you’re into.)

4. Explore your school’s food options.

If you go to the same dining hall day in and day out, chances are you’ll get sick of it (or, you know, actually sick.) If this happens, you’ll end up going out and spending real American money, which is exactly what you’re trying to avoid. Eat at a variety of places that take on-campus cash (or what’s more lovingly referred to as “fake money.”) Remember: the faker the money, the better. (Especially if you parents are generous enough to provide dining dollars.)

5. Buy your textbooks used.

New textbooks can be alarmingly expensive. We’re talking, like, as much as a plane ticket. If you’re not afraid of torn edges and strange doodles done by previous owners, we highly recommend buying your books used. Then you can use the extra money to, you know, actually buy a plane ticket (or, more likely, canned beer and packaged snacks. Whatever gets you excited.)

So there you have it: your ultimate guide to living on a budget without giving up all the collegiate fun. Now get out there and make yourself a fancy peanut butter sandwich with all the fixings – you deserve it!

Quick Tips

  • Take advantage of student discounts.
  • Snack as cheaply as an 8-year-old.
  • Get a job on campus.
  • Use campus cash (“fake money”) whenever possible.
  • Cozy up to used textbooks.

People Who Read This Article Also Read:

How to Balance Your College Budget
Restaurants and Campus Dining: Good Food on a Budget
6 Survival Tips for Dorm Life in a Suite
Quick and Easy Dorm Meals

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