Venmo, debit cards, student loans, oh my! You are broke and so am I. Your Venmo is dry. You aren’t exactly sure how much money is in your account, and you’re slightly afraid to check. And, if it wasn’t for your meal plan, you’d starve. Girl, same. Being broke is no joke. Here are a few tips to stretch your dollar.
1. Initiate the plans.
Your friend wants to grab coffee or do lunch, but that $10-$20 dollars is more than you want to pay. When plans are being discussed, suggest places that accept Dining Dollars or Maroon Meals like Starbucks or Einstein Bros Bagels. I know what you’re thinking: “I do not want to eat in the dining hall.” And you don’t have to. Suggest picking up a few things from the dining hall or the market and have a glamorous, golden-hour picnic. Yes, ladiessss, we are balling on a budget.
Pro-tip: Use this site to see what areas around Charleston take Maroon Meals and Dining Dollars.
2. Waste not, want not.
Remember that $4 lemonade that you drank a third of and then ditched? Or that time you made a whole pot of coffee and only had one cup? Yeah, honey, it’s the 21st century. We are o-v-e-r that. If you are out, order the smallest size. Chances are you won’t finish a larger size. And if you do finish a small, you can order more if it’s truly irresistible. At home, create habits to eliminate waste. For example, I pour one mini water bottle into the coffee maker and use 1 and a half scoops of coffee. Voila!
Pro-tip: Be stingy with the paper towels. Babe, you do not need 5 sheets to wipe up a little Ramen spill. 2 folded up will do the trick.
3. Cash is your friend.
“Charlotte, duh. Cash is obviously my friend.” I know, honey, I know. But let me tell you how to use it to your advantage. Each Sunday, I go to a store and get $50 cashback, then, that’s my only spending money for the week. I keep a notecard in my wallet with a simple subtraction problem of $50 minus the cost of everything I buy. I find this keeps me more accountable and thoughtful about why I buy or plan to buy. P.S. I miss you, debit card.
Pro-tip: I also set aside extra cash each month for my “emergency fund.” Use this for unexpected expenses that arise, like to replace your broken laptop charger or for your roommate’s birthday cupcake.
4. Normalize volunteering your Venmo.
You went out with a friend and you paid the bill. While you are paying, simply say, “It’s $20 and my Venmo is CharlotteHeinrich (shameless self-promo).” By telling them your Venmo on the spot, you don’t have to worry about them forgetting and then feeling awk about having to remind them later. End. The. Stigma. It’s not their birthday or Christmas. We aren’t sugar mommas…for the time being.
Pro-tip: You can now get a Venmo card that works like a debit card for free!
From one broke lady to another, you’re welcome. Now let’s get out there and find some free food.