Good News: A Fulfilling Social Life in College Doesn’t Have to be Expensive

At this point, you’ve probably read hundreds of articles geared toward finances for college students. You’re likely strapped with thousands of dollars in student loans, you’ve figured out how to cook (or microwave) the cheapest meals, and you’ve learned the ins and outs of buying textbooks on the cheap. But most college financial advice completely skips over how you should cover those “extraneous” expenses that many older people or parents don’t consider necessary. If you’re in college now, let’s face it—having a vibrant social life is perhaps one of the most interesting, life-affirming, character-growing parts of being at a university. And sometimes this social life costs a lot of money. But it doesn’t have to. Follow these tips and you’ll be able to cross the diploma finish line without having accrued mountains of credit card debit to fund all those parties.

Always be on the lookout for student discounts.

Especially if you live in a college town, or you reside in an area surrounding a university, many of the clubs, bars, restaurants, and other venues for entertainment in the area cater to students. Whenever you go out, always carry with you your student ID, which is mostly always necessary to receive any discount. When I was in college, I can’t tell you how much money I saved by receiving 15% to 20% discounts on tons of stores, eateries, etc. Sometimes establishments don’t advertise these discounts. Always ask.

Attend other people’s parties (especially those paid for by organizations).

You may think that you and your friends need to put the effort into creating and hosting your own parties. But the truth is that the whole process, from planning to execution, can become complicated, overwhelming, and, yes, expensive. Instead of trying so hard to start something up yourself, why not just attend others’ parties? Of course, many party hosts will ask you to bring your own food and drinks to help out the cause, but attending convocations funded by organizations, like fraternities and sororities, don’t require you to come to the party equipped. In my experience, it’s way more fun attending parties on someone else’s dime.

Find an effortless way to make extra cash (no steady job required).

Many college financial advising articles will tell you to get a student job. Generally speaking, I think getting a campus job is a wise idea. But it’s not completely necessary.There are far easier ways to make money than to work at the library or student café. One great example is tutoring. You can do it on your own time, high school student parents are willing to pay you a killing for just a few hours of service, and you can earn just as much (or more) as compared to steady job. Finding work like tutoring allows you to have more free time to both study and socialize. Trust me, I’ve done both the efficient earning extra cash route and the steady job. Efficient cash-making is much better.

Find free ways to socialize.

You might not believe it, but there are tons of ways to have fun with friends without spending a dime. When I was in college, a park across the street would host free concerts every month or so. Playing a team sport informally is also a ton of free fun, as is just having a nice movie night in. Be creative!

There are tons more ways to save money on your social life in college, but these are good rules of thumb to get you started. It is possible to have fun AND save money! Good luck!

Maria Rainier makes her living as a freelance blogger. An avid follower of the latest trends in technology and education, Maria believes that online degrees and online universities are the future of higher learning. Please share your comments with her.

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