If you're in college, chances are you're low on cash. There's no reasonable explanation for this, since the trendy clothes and fancy cars seen around my college show that the majority of students are fairly wealthy. Yet, that charity dish next to the cash register at the bookstore remains mysteriously empty, and any time there's free pizza at the student union, a tear gas-worthy riot ensues.
Maybe it's just fashionable to be poor in college. We all have friends driving Lexuses (Lexi?) who claim they're too broke to go out to dinner, and girls with shoes made from gold-plated endangered species pelts who complain regularly about the cost of their latte addictions.
As a service to my fellow wannabe-poor students, I'm compiling a list of the five best ways to help college students save their easily earned money. So kick back in your leather desk chair, turn up the surround sound, and enjoy. At least it's better than working.
Tip #1: Lie, cheat, steal, and kill. And that's just at the dining hall.
The hardest thing to cut back on at college is eating. I guess it's because if you cut back too much, you die. Most schools offer meal plans, a brilliant invention under which your parents get billed for your meals at the dining hall on campus. Unfortunately, the quality of food makes it impossible to eat all your meals here (plus, I've heard bad things about salmonella). The answer to this is the answer to almost all of life's problems: steal. They're overcharging mom and dad anyway, so why not stuff your pockets, backpacks, suitcases, 30 gallon trash bags, and dump trucks with whatever you can get your hands on? Fruit and cereal are easy targets, but daring students will get away with sandwiches, pizza, and in extreme cases, pockets full of ice cream.
Tip #2: Abuse the law that lets you join every ethnic organization on campus.
Your school probably has hundreds of clubs and organizations that exist only to pad the resumes of our future corrupt politicians. If you find out when and where these clubs meet, you're guaranteed hundreds of dollars in free pizza and donuts. Since no one in college wants to waste their valuable drinking time attending meetings, clubs have to entice their members with free food, and you can reap all the benefits. Joining hundreds of clubs can also be a good alternative to buying shirts, and if you have to go to Asian American Students Association, Black Engineers Organization, and Hillel meetings on the same day, you won't be the first desperate pizza-seeker.
Tip #3: The gas station trick.
Most kids get the same lecture from their parents before they leave for college. Don't drink and drive, don't use our credit card except for gas and emergencies, and don't get herpes. Let's focus on the second one. Emergencies can be broadly defined to include movies and Mexican food, but eventually your parents will catch on. Instead, follow the gas-only rule. An obvious loophole here is that items bought inside the station will look like gas on the credit card bill, and you can spend a surprising amount of money in a ten foot wide room filled with Hostess products. But another, more overlooked way to screw over your loving parents is to pay for your friends' gas on your card, then take cash from them in return. So if your roommate needs to get $25 worth of gas, pay for it on your parents' card, charge him $20 in cash, and everybody wins (except mom and dad, but what else is new?).
Tip #4: Take advantage of friends' parents like you would a drunken Olsen twin.
It's the first day of college. You're nervous, scared, excited, and anxious. You're checking out your room, checking out the girls (or guys), and most importantly, checking out what kinds of cars your floormates' parents drive. This sounds pretty devious, but in order for you to save money in the long run, you need to befriend kids with rich, preferably local, parents. Over four years (or for most of you reading this site, five or six years), the countless free dinners are going to add up. Care packages from parents can also be raided, and making friends with people from interesting locations can provide a few nights of free housing almost anywhere in the country.
Tip #5: Pawn school-related swag on eBay.
Old alumni and college football fans are desperate for anything with a school logo or mascot on it. While letterhead and postcards may be stretching it, seemingly useless giveaways like pens and bookmarks might actually sell on eBay. If you're at some pep rally and you get a free hat or a shirt, this can add up to hundreds of dollars a month in PayPal bounty. Remember, it doesn't matter what you sell the stuff for on eBay, as long as shipping is very high and very well hidden on the auction page. Consider using a white font on a white background to declare your $10 shipping charge for a wristband, then fight it out later with the feedback-concerned auction winner.
For more information on the life and times of Thornton Papadopoulos, please consult PunchPanda.com.
Also! If you live in Austin, Seattle, or San Francisco- you should see one of our favorite comedians Demetri Martin record his first stand-up CD over the next week. You'll love the show, trust us. Info on each of those shows is at his website.