What I Learned from Being a Broke College Student

“I’m literally going to starve. How long do you think I can survive on just rice?”

It was the tail end of my junior year, just a few weeks after Spring Break, and I was rifling through my kitchen pantry and lamenting my two-digit bank statement with my roommates. Asking my parents for more money was out of the question, and unfortunately this scenario was not the first of its kind.

I’m happy to say that I didn’t starve (turns out you CAN live off of rice for a long time) but I did learn a thing or two from being a broke college student during those four influential years. Lucky for you, I’m going to share my wisdom with you free of change, so you don’t have to repeat my mistakes!

You can score discounts with your student ID.

That little plastic card in your wallet is more than just a reminder of your tragic freshman year haircut (…that’s not just me, right?)

Restaurants, clothing stores, insurance agencies, movie theaters, gyms, and transportation services are all likely candidates to offer student discounts. Whether that’s 15% off the latest looks at J. Crew, student pricing for electronics at Apple, or free sodas at Chipotle, you can rack up serious savings by making use of your student ID.

Shared meals benefit everyone.

One or two nights a week, whip up a shared meal with your roommates or friends. Themes like taco night or pizza night make it easy for everyone to chip in by purchasing just one or two ingredients, and working together to create a dish that everyone can enjoy.

Socializing with friends + great food + money saved = good times for everyone!

You’ll save money by renting textbooks.

Instead of paying $200 for a new textbook and earning just $20 back for it and the end of year, just fork over the $40 or $50 upfront and rent it for the semester.

You won’t have that small thrill of getting cold hard cash back in your pocket when you return your books, but you’ll lose a lot less money in the process.

On-campus jobs offer flexibility, experience, and money.

I know, I know; you’re already super busy and stressed out with classes and social drama, and you don’t have time for a job, right?

Wrong! I managed to balance a full course load with a part-time job and a social life throughout college. How? I worked on-campus for my university’s marketing department!

On-campus jobs are designed with students’ schedules in mind, and usually don’t require working evenings or weekends. For instance, I scheduled all of my classes to start at noon or later, and worked for a couple hours in the morning every day before class.

I gained directly relevant experience to add to my resume, as well as money to spend on food and social outings.

Cable TV subscriptions are so five years ago.

These days, there isn’t much need for a cable subscription. Sign up for services like Netflix, Hulu, or HBO to watch all of your favorite shows, and head out to the local bars or to your friends’ houses to watch live events like sports.

Plus, imagine how much more productive you could be without the temptation of mindlessly flipping through crappy re-runs.

The best college memories are priceless.

While it may seem unlikely right now, one day you’re going to look back at your college years and feel nostalgic for the days of slurping $0.25 ramen noodles and celebrating finding a five dollar bill on the ground. Being a broke college student forces you to develop character, gratitude and humility, and provides some pretty memorable moments in the process.

Not to mention, some of your most-loved college memories won’t cost you a thing. Watching your football team win the big game and hanging out with your roommates on the weekends are completely free, but those are the moments you’re bound to look back on and appreciate the most.