How do you survive off $200 for six weeks? Well, the answer to that question is you don’t. I ask myself every day how I managed to not only blow through my hard earned summer money, but also the extra $1,000 I scrounged up over winter break. I mean I knew I was reckless with my money, but I never thought that I would stoop this low. After first questioning if a hacker had stolen my money and then secondly hoping that my Chase bank account app was broken, I soon came to the conclusion that the reading of 205.73 was completely accurate.
Now you may be asking yourself, what could a college student spend $1,000 on in 10 weeks? I will tell you that there are two things every college student spends their money on and those two things may be the most outrageous but necessary tools to a successful college career: food and booze. Yes, I know neither of those things would seem actually essential to a college student’s life, but if you go to any big university those are basically the only two things on your mind.
Every college student utilizes that “work hard,play hard” attitude and I unfortunately took that motto a little too literally. After a long, busy week of classes, exams and organization meetings and events, I barely have time to sleep-- let alone eat three daily meals. That is where my food spending came into play and also where my $3,000 meal plan went to waste. Through much peer pressure and desire to let loose from the grind of the school week led to the majority of my expenditures on the weekend and booze. So now that I am in this rut of no income and only $200 to live on, I decided I would try and help the rest of my fellow college students to try and avoid being in the situation I am in today. Hopefully my seven tips will allow you to find yourself with just a little more spending money in your bank account and if not I wish you the best of luck and RIP to us both.
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1. Stop buying food and use your meal plan
This sounds like an easy concept, but trust me it's a little more difficult when your class schedule doesn’t line up with the dining hall times. When you are running from class to class and all of the dining halls are down a hill, that requires you going back up that hill eventually, you just choose to spend your own money on food places more convenient to you. I am telling you though, going for convenience over free food will eventually catch up to you. So push through and go a little bit out of your way to eat the food you already paid for.
2. Learn to say no
I am the type of person who has major FOMO and has a very hard time saying no, so this one honestly was the cause of most of my money loss. From spending $5 on movies to the funds spent on nights out on the town, this will most definitely be your end. I know it's hard, but do your best to say no sometimes and there will be plenty more events with friends when you have a little more money to throw around.
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3. Set limits on your spending
I have started to utilize this and it honestly works, especially when you are on a budget. Limit yourself to a certain amount of spendings each week. Being conscious of what you are spending and even more importantly being conscious what you are spending that money on will allow you to adjust your spending and cut out bad habits. In my case, I realized I no longer have any money to spare so I basically am limiting myself to $15 a week.
4. Sell old clothing items & quit online shopping
This tip may be a little more difficult to accomplish when you are actually at school, but when you are on breaks go through your closet and toss anything you don’t wear anymore in a bag. Once you’ve done that, head to Plato’s Closet or a local resale clothing store to get a little extra spending money on items you no longer need or wear. I did this over my spring break and made a whopping $20, but hey when you are as broke as me, anything will do. Also, this may be implied, but when you are broke stay away from online shopping at all costs. You can suffer through the next few weeks without that cute jean skirt from Forever 21.
5. Use venmo sparingly and ask for exact amounts
I am the queen of venmo and that is partially what lead to my overspending, because venmo makes you think you have more money than you really have. If you insist upon using it still, be that person that asks for exact amounts. I know it may sound annoying, but legit ask for cent amounts, because those 3 cents eventually add up to dollars and in the end even a single dollar could have an effect on your funds. Be that annoying venmo girl and own it, I know I do!
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6. Utilize free items
As a college student, there are so many opportunities for free items, promotions, and even free food. By utilizing these opportunities for free stuff, it’ll not only save you money,but also give you your shopping fix. I know here at OU, there are always involvement fairs that hand out free items or even promotions from apps like Joyrun that usually incentivize with free food.
7. BEG YOUR PARENTS FOR MONEY
This by far is the most important way to increase that number on your bank account and survive the rest of this spring semester. Grovel, cry, offer up your life, do whatever you need to do, but this is honestly the quickest way to no longer be broke. I am currently working on my parents at the moment, giving them my sob story of how I spent $1000 and at the moment it isn’t really working, but hey you gotta keep trying, especially when you are as desperate as me.
Well, I hope these tips will help all of my fellow broke college students make it through the rest of the semester. We are in this together and to look on the positive side of things at least we only have another month and a half to go! I am hoping that these next couple weeks of moneyless torture will teach myself to never put myself in this situation again, but if I am being honest, I will probably be in this exact same situation next semester. Best of luck to all of you and here’s to hoping our parents will deposit money in our accounts tomorrow!