Here’s the thing, if by the time you get to your last year of undergrad you haven’t figured out a few useful strategies on how to survive while possessing little to no currency or legal tender, chances are that college degree isn’t going to be of much help once you’ve completed the daunting task of securing it under glass in the frame. I’m kidding of course but the life of a poverty level college student is no joke and the burdensome and terrifying aspects of it can lead to some unrealistic--yet doable--and silly ideas.
This by no means anoints this author as an expert on student cost of living, but over the years I have managed to pick up a few tricks along the way. Tricks that can not only ease the torment of having nothing in your rumbling stomach caused by academically induced anorexia, but also the realization that you can do little to stifle it because your pockets contain more stressed, clinched fists and colored lint than capital.
There is, as my fellow students are well aware, a very strict budget process involved with college life. A student’s mental process can rapidly become a barrage of “to’s”. So if it’s not, “what do I need to pay for”, it is most certainly “what do I have to pay for”. In my opinion these phenomena are in direct correlation to the fact the live of a college student consists mainly of having to live hand-to-mouth, check-to-check, and hour-to hour. To those of us huddled around the free sample mini sausage lady in the deli section of our local grocer the well fed, never hurting for a meal college student is our version of Loch Ness, or the Yeti. But let’s table the discussion on myth for another time so I can attempt to offer a few suggestions on how to combat some of the budget constraints we students deal with.
·Scour for the freebies and sniff out the food. This one should be easy. Never was there an individual more demographically salivated over by the purveyors of junk mail advertising than the college student. All the “trash” you witnessed being casually discarded by your parents after you had retrieved the mail as a kid has now become to you as a young adult a treasure trove of tantalizing tax-free tariffs. New food shops and restaurants are opening every month it seems and they have to drum up business some kind of way right? What better way than to offer new customers free food? Check the floor in the mailbox area of your apartment or dorm, check the trash when you get a freebie offer in the mail.
Chances are your more affluent, and or less informed neighbors have done what your parents always had and have thrown their freebies in the trash or on the ground. You find ten of those “free offers” and you’re eating two free meals a day for an entire week. What’s more, the very school you attend most certainly holds dozens of campus events, free shows, and meetings on a weekly basis and if your mind has already begun to drift toward a daydream to the land of free pizza and sugary snacks, then far be it from me to wake you.
·Jump at and through the Loopholes. Having a decent social life is no longer out of the question as there are a ton of tricks to use when the mood or cravings hint toward libation. With Colorado being one of the largest and most popular craft beer brewing states, businesses who deal in the liquor trade often have beer tasting events usually only requiring a simple online email registration and agreement to receive advertisements and special offers. Same goes for several local vineyards and art exhibits, the former offering wine tasting tours while the latter flat out plies you with free wine in an effort to get you to purchase expensive pieces in a woozy, inebriated haze.
Snacks may even be provided if you’re really lucky. This is where you have to be not only diligent, but a little sneaky. Aside from the work it takes to find which of the aforementioned businesses are hosting free tasting events for their products, you may need to create multiple email accounts in order for the reward to be of greater value to any amount of time or energy attributed to the search. Sure, you may have to hobnob and mingle with a slightly different crowd than you’re used to but I have yet to meet a college student who did not wish they could drink for free, so who knows, this trick could really catch on.
·Reinvent your norms. Become sage and wise in your young years. In fact, become a septuagenarian savant. Stop thinking outdated or out of touch and open your mind to saving some serious bucks. By this I mean coupons. Clip them, collect them, and above all else, cherish them. I feel as though the art of coupon cultivation has gone lost on the millennial generation. It is a shame because hordes of students are leaving a ton of savings on the table. A craftily compiled coupon cache can cut a $80 grocery bill into nearly half that, freeing up much needed additional funds that can be applied to other pressing bills and expenses.
Apart from getting a second job, which for many students is not necessarily the most feasible option for additional income, we must endure by any and all means. Our sponge like minds yearning for educational saturation need not only nourishment, but social avenues of release that will enable us to succeed. With these needs oftentimes having a cost attached to them we must find--even if we are forced to create them—and utilize the methods that aid us in our struggle along the way.