4 Ways to Survive College on a ‘Beer Budget’

We see economic experts on TV constantly telling us how much better the economy is getting. Yeah? On what planet?

Maybe the numbers are right, on a technical level. But for those of us currently enrolled in post-secondary education, or for those of us who have finally decided to go back to college after our post-high school twenty-year break, making ends meet is a struggle.

We have to make every single cent go as far as it can. And even if we are already disciplined with our spending, sometimes we have to get creative to be able to make rent, or have enough food to last until payday.

So here are some tips that can help with that.

1. Coupons

Remember when mom used to spend half the day chopping up the coupon inserts from the Sunday paper? Oh, how right she was! Coupons are essentially money that companies give you to buy their product. Fifty cents off here and a quarter off there really adds up after a while, and the good news is, you don’t have to sit at the kitchen table with scissors.

You can easily search the web for printable coupons for the things you use…if you’re still the old fashioned type. For more contemporary souls, there are digital coupons. You create an account with a store, choose what coupons you are going to use, and use your phone number or rewards card at check out to cash them in. It couldn’t be easier.

2. Trading Groups and Clubs

There’s a lot you can learn from the minds of the video game generation. All across the country there are groups on Facebook and sites like lsn.com, where local people trade and swap items.

It originated in video game circles, but it’s evolved to embrace many more groups. People trade everything from toasters to IT services. It’s a great way to get something new (new to you, anyway) while getting rid of something you don’t use anymore.

Each club and group will have their own rules for what members can and cannot do, which you can find out when you join. However, this is the internet after all, so use good ol’ common sense. Don’t meet people you don’t personally know in out-of-the-way places, like their cabin in the woods, or windowless van.

Also avoid doing business with people who have fake-looking profiles. And if any offer from the internet seems too good to be true, it probably means your face on a milk carton if you take it.

3. Loans

Living paycheck to paycheck makes socking away money for emergencies hard to do, and even if we manage to save up a little, one little emergency can wipe it out real quick. So what happens when a second emergency pops up at the same time? Or if the one emergencies is bigger than our stash of cash?

Some people ask friends and family for money. That is a viable option, even if it isn’t exactly good for our adulating pride. Another solution is taking out a short term loan. Just remember that this isn’t party money. Pay them back as soon as you can.

The intro rates and terms for loans you pay back on your next paycheck are reasonable, but getting behind can wrack up some serious fees and interest. Use these loans responsibly.

4. Buying in Bulk

Way too often, we get caught in the trap of spending the absolute minimum on everything we can. These short-term savings often costs more down the road.

Take toilet paper for instance. We see the 4-pack for five dollars and snatch it up. It’s not the best, but our fingers don’t keep poking through when we use it. Right beside it is the 30 roll mega-pack for twenty dollars. Buying it is like getting two and a half of the 4-pack for free.

Buying larger sizes or in bulk can save us a ton of money in the long run. Just watch out for stores trying to pull a fast one. Retailers know this trick and will sometimes jack up the price of the bigger sized products as a way to get a few more cents out of unwary consumers. Compare the unit price to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

A beer budget is tough to get by on—there’s no doubt about that.  But when you learn some tricks to help make every cent count while in college, you’re certain to reap the benefits in the long run.

This blog post was sponsored by Check Into Cash. If you have a product or service you believe could benefit college students, check out our guidelines on pitching sponsored posts.


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