The realities of being a broke college student

There seems to be a unspoken, cool trend that college students are “broke.” In high school, you hear the college freshmen brag about being on their own, having to live off of Instant ramen, and their inevitable fate of becoming broke from student loans. Television commercials for furniture, for instance, have dorm rooms setup and on the desk, college essentials: instant ramen, microwaveable Mac and cheese, and maybe a pack of pencils and a backpack. Even grocery stores advertise their ongoing sales on microwaveable/frozen food items for back-to-school season. The society is okay to show off that students are struggling and deem it as just a “college experience.” 

It’s easy to falsely claim that you are broke even if you really aren’t, because if any poor-shaming happens, you can jump back into the reality of actually having SOME money and have the facts to back it up. However, there are numerous amount of students who are actually, absolutely struggling with their finances and don’t have a safe reality to jump back into.

Everyone's situation is different, and today I'm going to share my friend Marie's story:

 

I used to fling around the phrase 'I’m broke,' just so I can decline any expensive friend gatherings or just use it to get out of money spending. After I graduated, I knew college was coming, and that I can claim the title “college student” after the previous phrase; hopefully gaining some extra pity from the people I already keep using the poor phrase around. Little did I know, the reality of actually being broke would slap me in the face and dig a deep hole of anxiety into the pits of my stomach. 

There are many stories similar to mine, where the next step of education is a little too far for a commute, resulting in having to go for an endless search for roommates and a place to live. You don’t make the cut for financial aid, parents can’t really help out, and you are relying on funds from your own job (plus the dreaded student loans). Dizzy and anxious with the weight of finding a place to live with someone not related to you, discussing what you qualify for and don’t, trying to find a co-signer with good credit, OH BUT WAIT you also have to find a way to pay for SCHOOL remember? That’s why you’re stressing in the first place. Balancing this and that, your phone’s calculator app gets no rest. 

You are finally able to sign into somewhere, which cost you many trips from home to The New Place which means gallons of gasoline, GONE. Money for the deposits, GONE. Time you could have been at the beach, GONE. Since you quit the job you were working for, now you have to find a new job. Except school didn’t start yet and there’s moving to be done so you don’t even know your availability! Now jobless and limited on time and still anxious about starting at a new school, your finances become strained--depleting at a very oddly fast rate. How to survive? How to keep your head above the water? How do you become one of the false claiming broke students instead of an actual broke student? Here are actual advices from a struggling college student herself.

     As a true broke student who has transparently shared their story, I can testify to the brutal changes life has given me. (Note: I am still currently jobless and school has started, and I am semi-settled into the new place.) Here's some advice on how to save every penny:

 

1. Collect bottles.

Collecting and recycling bottles are very eco-friendly and help make extra cash; a win-win if you ask me. Search up couple of recycling plants near you and make that your go-to money maker. Most recycle plants have two types of methods to redeem money: feeding the machine one by one, or putting them all in trash bins for them to weigh. Tip: you make more money by feeding the machine one by one because they are 5¢ each and some bigger bottles will be 10¢. For bottles that just don’t make the cut, try again, and if it doesn’t go through, make sure you have a trash bin next to you so you can throw it in there for them to weigh. EVERYTHING counts. You can recycle glass, aluminum, bi-metal and plastic bottles. So next time, if you host a party or drink a lot of liquids, leave a recycle bag out there and collect your mula!

 

2. Invest in another form of transportation.

For longer distance I choose to ride a bike, and for quick maneuvering around, the skateboard is my go-to apparatus. Some options can include a bicycle, skateboard, scooter, rollerblades, the bus (some places allows students to ride for a discount or even free) or good old-fashioned walking. In other words, don’t rely on your car; save that for the trip going to your home-home.

 

3. Learn how to meal prep.

This will allow you to be more healthy and can test your food rationing skills. You won’t be using so much money on junk food or snacks because you will be full and content with preplanned meals. Plastic containers are going to be your friend.

 

4. Take full advantage of freebies, discounts, and coupons.

There’s no shame in trying to get things cheaper if they are literally HANDING them out to you. 

 

These are just some ways I have been saving money. If you have tips yourself, share them, you could’ve saving a life or two. Hopefully I land a job and become a bit more financially stable, but as for now:

Broke is my name and Saving is the game.