Staying within the confines of a budget in college can be a bit of a balancing act between overpriced text books, food costs and spending money.
Mapping out monthly expenses is a good way to see exactly where your money goes…in theory. You may have some months where you exhaust the limits of your bank account or have unexpected expenses pop up, requiring you to rely on your creativity to make it to the next month. Money 101 asked former and current college students across the country to share their untraditional budget-stretching tips to see what lengths some students will go to save a few dollars.
I'm not sure if they do this at every school, but mine always puts on a really delicious post-lecture catering table, and there are always so many people in the building that you can duck in for a sandwich and no one knows you didn't go to the talk! I don't even bother to bring dinner with me to campus on those days!- A.Y. Daring, University of Waterloo, Class of 2013
Kidney beans and Ramen. -Danielle Fleming, Georgia State University, Class of 2007
When I went to lunch, I brought a backpack full of Tupperware to the dining hall and filled it with pizza when the workers weren't looking. I brought back about two whole pizzas to my dorm. -Justin Willette, University of Alabama, Class of 2011
Thick cardboard boxes have worked as tables and ottomans (If people are curious, Perdue chicken boxes have proven to be very strong). -Kevin Green, 23, Virginia Tech
When I worked in the dining halls junior year, most of my food budget consisted of taking any food left over. We could take as much as we could carry, so sometimes I'd have two backpacks full of pasta with marinara, personal pizzas, sandwiches, salads, sodas, and milk. One stop grocery! -Rob Cantoni, University of Colorado, Class of 2007
I stocked up on coupon books from the university that had great deals on tons of restaurants around—so many 2 for 1 deals! When I went with another person, I got great food for dirt cheap.-Allie Franklin, University of Alabama, Class of 2010
Living on popcorn with mustard to afford school supplies. -Stephanie Bridgewater, Virginia Tech
Baguettes and packets of minestrone soup. -Julianne Geraghty, La Sorbonne, Class of 2007
I wore one contact for a few months before getting the money to replace the other one. -Chelsea Hover, 21, Virginia Tech
We asked current and former college students to share how they stretched every penny to survive school. Here’s what they had to say.