From a social standpoint, your college years might be the most exciting years of your life. But from a financial point of view, you'll probably have more financial problems than you thought possible. Most college kids don't work full-time, and some rely fully on parental support. So it comes as no surprise that many college kids live on practically nothing. Even if your resources are limited, there are ways to survive and even enjoy a little fun.
1. Check Your City's Entertainment Guide
Just because you're broke doesn't mean you have to sit home every Friday or Saturday night bored. If you check your city's local entertainment guide online, chances are you'll find a variety of free or low-cost events. The selection will be larger if you live close to the city. Options might include a free concert in the park, free museum exhibits, other cultural events, etc.
2. Skip the Expensive Cell Phone Plan
You may think you need a cell phone with all the bells and whistles, but you might be able to get by with far less. If you have Wi-Fi at home or in your dorm, see if you can switch to a cheaper data plan and save money. And if you primarily text or send email, look for a plan that includes less minutes for additional savings.
3. Use Public Transportation
Many college students prefer having their own vehicle. But between car payments, auto insurance and fuel, bringing transportation to campus can take most of the money you have. Even without a monthly payment, it might be difficult to fit car insurance and fuel into your budget. Depending on where you attend school, the city may have a transit system.
4. Don't Get a Credit Card
Think twice before getting your first credit card, even if you're eligible. A credit card can provide emergency cash, but it also creates unnecessary expenses. It's easier to stay on budget when you're relying on cash.
5. The More Roommates, the Better
If you prefer living in an off-campus apartment, living alone might break your budget. Having only one roommate can also make it difficult to make ends meet. Consider rooming with two or three people. This might mean sharing a room with someone, but at least you're not stuck in a small dormitory.
6. Learn How to Cook
If you don't have a meal plan and you live in the dorm, you might eat out multiple times a day and spend money you don't have. If you have your own apartment, or if your dorm allows hot plates or crockpots, learn how to cook basic meals. The money you spend eating out two or three days a week might buy an entire week's worth of groceries. Don't forget to use coupons and store discounts.
7. Beg, Borrow, Thrift
Eventually you're going to need something new, whether it's shoes, books or household items. For right now, avoid buying anything brand-new. Between family and friends, you might find what you need free or at a low-cost. You can look online for free items, borrow from friends, or browse thrift stores or flea markets.
Living on practically nothing can be difficult, but it's doable. Instead of being discouraged by your lack of resources, think of this as a steppingstone to something better. What are other tips for living on practically nothing while in college?