Living on a Shoe-String Budget

frugalMany students refuse to live frugally, but don’t be fooled: They’ll pay the price, at some point. Unless you’re one of the fortunate few to have been born with a silver spoon in your mouth, you probably don’t have much more than pocket change after paying for books, fees, and laundry. You probably have a student loan or two, and the last thing you’ll want when you enter the not-so-promising work force of today is additional (and unnecessary!) debt. It can be hard to live on a bare-bones budget, though, so you’ll need to find creative ways to have frugal fun, now and then. Believe it or not, it can be done.

Free Items

Dumptster-diving can be a lucrative pastime, but you may not be quite ready for that kind of free. Websites like Freecycle and Craigslist offer opportunities for people to list items they’re giving away. Often, these are items people could sell but choose to give away instead. Some do it for all kinds of reasons—kindness, good karma, or concern for the environment. Whatever the reason, it can benefit you. I’ve seen items ranging from pets to furniture listed on these sites. In addition to those sites, there are many deal sites that list freebies from various companies. For instance, under the “freebies” tab on this popular site, you can find birthday meals, music downloads, and samples.

Bartering Possibilities

Do you have skills like cutting hair, proofreading documents, or fixing computers, that you’ve offered to family or friends? You can use those same skills—or unwanted items of your own—to help you afford others’ services or items that you want. Craigslist has a category for barterers, but don’t feel like you’re limited to those listings. You could host your own clothes-swap party or list items you want to exchange on physical campus bulletin boards or online venues, too. Independent businesses may be willing to take you up on a barter-style deal, like giving you a free mocha a week in exchange for a blog entry for their website or a positive online review of their establishment. Hey, you never know unless you ask!

frugality in shoppingCommunity Events

If you look around on bulletin boards and community websites, you might be surprised at the number of free concerts, festivals, or other events in your area that let you attend without paying a cent! You can look at community websites, area newspapers, business windows, or bulletin boards to find out about them. Events that charge admission sometimes need volunteers, allowing you to exchange your time for free admission.

Modest Allowances

If you don’t allow yourself a little wiggle room, you might go nuts at some point. Allow yourself some “mad money,” “fun money,” or whatever you want to call it, each month. Even $10 or $20 that you don’t have to be responsible about can give you the flexibility you need to make it on a shoe string.

Image credits: Top by contrastwerkstatt / Fotolia; Bottom by Monkey Business / Fotolia.

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