As the days remaining in the semester wind down, stress about school and apathy about your own quality of life ramp up. Example: the light bulb in my room just burned out. I will guarantee this room remains dark until 2013 (if 2013 happens. Amirite, Mayans?) Clothes will be worn unlaundered, showers run on an as-needed basis, garbage will pile up in your room, just counting down the days until glorious winter break. One of the main issues college students will face in these waning days of fall semester is the cash-flow problem. Personally, PNC Bank has been e-mailing me so much I think we might be hooking up. I present to you my tips on how to stretch that dollar another couple weeks until you get home.
Essentials: Nut-cutting time. What’s more important: food or laundry? Make the tough choices on what you do and do not absolutely need to spend money on. You’re probably in this financial situation because of the stupid impulse purchases you’ve made. And by you, I mean me. And by impulse purchases, I mean $50 turf driving ranges for the roof and that $100 round of shots for the whole bar after the Oakland Raiders snuck in a backdoor cover.
Making Money: I thought about getting a job one time but then realized that a lot of jobs start early and I don’t exactly “do” mornings. Finals will keep you too busy to really get anything legitimate going, but there are still ways to make a quick buck. Sell drugs. It’s working perfectly for Walter White. And I think that MILF from Weeds is still on the air too. Do gross things for five bucks. I will pay five dollars to see a man chug hot sauce any day of the week. Offer favors to people in exchange for cash, food or booze. Maybe you write well or have last year’s test. Maybe someone wants a massage that starts as a massage but maybe it turns into something more, I don’t know. Nothing is off the table.
Food: Guy’s gotta eat. For those of you off the school or fraternity meal plan, usually with grand delusions about preparing your own meals in your off-campus house or apartment, food is a huge cash drain. I live with seven other guys. There’s not a single thing in our refrigerator. Literally nothing. Eating out is convenient, but it’s no longer viable. Take advantage of female neighbors or sorority girls. They usually cook, and will share with you because oh-my-god-I-made-way-too-much-I-can’t-eat-all-of-this-I’ll-get-so-fat (note: they will eat all of it if you do not offer to help. Be a good person, eat their food). Also, Christmas is a big canned food drive holiday. There are usually a lot of cans; no one will miss a couple. You’re in need, too. This is about survival.
Alcohol: You’re probably already drinking cheap liquor. It’s time to go cheaper. Nyquil, mouthwash, anything you think will help you catch a buzz. Leave some fruit out on the counter for a couple days and see what happens. As for going out, search for the best deals and then exploit them. Dollar well drinks? I’ll take 20 and put the extras in my canteen (it goes without saying that at this point you should be carrying an extra-alcohol canteen). Put those wounded soldiers you see at parties out of their misery. A lot of almost-empty beers equal a couple full beers.
Parents: My parents want to not give me money so bad that they no longer pick up my phone calls. While the well-placed beg to a generous family member is a last resort option, sometimes you can get lucky enough to pull of the Ocean’s 11 level heist of a parents’ credit card number. Those 16 pretty digits are your Holy Grail. Food delivery places almost always take card numbers, and Amazon.com has everything you might ever possibly need, all just a click away. The best part is, if you time it right you’ll be back at school before the next bill comes. And you know the saying: out of sight, out of legal/financial/ethical responsibility.
Being broke is a rite of passage that every college kid must live through, to see how the bottom half lives. Granted, I’m typing this from a MacBook Pro while lying on my TempurPedic bed, so maybe I’m not getting the full poverty experience. But I know what it’s like to beg, cheat and steal for a couple bucks, which makes me appreciate the money I’ll eventually earn. Just kidding, I’ll probably blow it on storm trooper masks like I did last time I had a job.