Sunday, September 7, 2008

Cheap Living for Broke College Students - Part 2

Welcome travelers arriving from the Money Hacks Carnival #29: Food Heaven over at Living Almost Large. Thanks for stopping by and feel free to peruse about. If you like what you see, you can subscribe via reader or email over in the top portion of the right margin. You are encouraged to comment on anything you find here.

As a continuation of my Cheap Living for Broke College Students series, today I will discuss entertainment on the cheap. Click here to see how to save money on transportation and appearances and tune in tomorrow for tips for saving money on school itself.

Students just want to have fun, right? Well, you can still have fun without putting yourself in a huge red hole and college towns have more opportunities for cheap fun than other cities. Many places such as theaters, bowling alleys, golf courses, state parks, and restaurants have student discount rates, so always have your student ID on hand for such situation.

You can always attend pep rallies or some sporting events for free (baseball was a nice free place to catch some rays and hang out for us…not to mention check out baseball players). Even if you have to pay for the event, the student price should be much cheaper than the standard fan cost.

Take advantages of the various artistic programs that your school offers. You can often check out plays, art showings, or symphonies put on by the school for cheap or free because the participants are not (yet) professionals! You also have opportunities to see professional concerts and such for cheap or free due to the fact that you’re at a university and they often perform at such venues.

And although you might be able to get a student discount at your local cinema, check out student body organizations for things such as free movie nights. We had those and they were always showing some popular movie that was somewhere between theater release and video release (kinda’ in that pay-per-view stage). Free fun. Bring your own popcorn and sodas.

Speaking of entertainment, the word “party” is often synonymous with college. However, there are some ways to keep this cheap as well. For instance, save it for special occasions and celebrate with more than food or booze, such as music you already own, a Wii party, and socialization. If you want to go out for drinks, find a “ladies’ night” or something similar with discounts during certain hours…and then stop drinking once that time frame is over.

College is also an inexpensive way to check out up-and-coming superstar bands or just loving-being-a-college-band groups on the cheap. Many a band have gotten their start as college locals and students were able to enjoy the same talent on the cheap in the early days.

Or…now hang with me here…avoid smoking and drinking altogether. Many people are on-board for avoiding smoking due to health hazards…but it’s terribly expensive as well. However, drinking also can be quite costly as well as detrimental to your health and safety. Be smart and have a good time without drinking. Go to the party, hang out with your friends and then be the designated driver. Everyone gets home safe, you have a good time with friends, and you increase your chances of being invited so you can drive them! =)

There are plenty of ways to feed hobbies (or start new ones!) while in school. Many schools offer free access to student facility game rooms, gyms, and aquatic centers. And if you love athletics (or just being around your friends and having fun), look into intramural sports. I played football in college. Yep, me. I was on a coed team of flag-football-playing engineers. We were (not) awesome, but we had a wonderful time.

There are numerous organizations to join in order to volunteer your time or work for a cause you believe in. Not only does this provide a cheap means to spend time doing something you love, it will likely look good on your resume as volunteer work and bonus points if you can apply it to your desired professional field.

And although it is not free, you could also consider signing up for classes for your interests, such as theater, orchestra, art, golf, tennis, Tae Kwando or a variety of interesting classes like pottery, gardening, or even flower-arranging (yes, I’m serious). Although these are not free, most degrees require a certain number of electives, so you might as well enjoy these classes while you are working toward that degree.

And as far as class credits, why not spend some money for class credit and a chance of a lifetime and study abroad for a summer. It’s not exactly cheap, but it may be your only opportunity to go backpacking in Europe (regardless of your plans for yourself after graduation) or learn about Greek history in Greece--and regardless of the cost, you will not be able to do it for cheaper when you are out of school (plus you have to plan around a schedule that you’ll come to know as WORK).

So that's enough for today. Soak it all in and come back tomorrow to wrap this series up!

Photo credit: tuxthepenguin84 & Carolina Hornig

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