I know we get what we pay (or sometimes don’t) pay for, but you never know how to improvise until you absolutely can’t afford something anymore, be it a necessity or a luxury. Here’s how I’ve learned to improve as a college student:
Problem: You don’t have/can’t afford that awesome strawberry kiwi shaving cream.
Solution: Use shampoo. They say soap dries out the skin & yes it does but you put lotion on anyway when you get out the shower. The first time I had to do this, I remember those horror stories I saw on commercials but really, I didn’t notice much of a difference. When my dad lived with us, I would dip into his shaving cream if it didn’t smell too manly.
Problem: You can’t spend $10 on your favorite body lotion or body wash.
Solution: Store brand or cheaper brands work just as well. Jergens cherry almond-scented is awesome and usually under $5! Suave is also a good brand. Right now I’m using a jar of Vitamin E cream that I got from Big Lots for just $2.50.
Problem: You can’t afford to buy the fancy razors.
Solution: Buy the bag of disposables. They work just as well and you can get those for $2.
Problem: Your favorite store is beginning to get expensive.
Solution: Shop around! If your area has one, go to Big Lots! They sell brand name everything at drastically cheaper prices. The only downside is because they buy overstock or from places going out of business, they may not have the same items twice. This is where bulk shopping comes in handy, especially for toiletries.
Problem: Public transit (This is a major issue for many people)
Solution 1: Buy better ticket packages. If you buy by the week, get a monthly pass. You save money & often when you get bundles, you get free or deeply discounted transfers. Plus, they’re unlimited, so you can use them anytime, not just on school or work days & certain hours. If you can, buy your passes online so you’ll save a few dollars. Also, RIDE OFF PEAK. You’ll save $2 to $5 doing that & depending on where you are, you only have to wait 45 minutes to an hour for the off peak train. Hooray for iPods & MP3 players!
Solution 2: Carpooling. Even if you don’t have your own car, you can ride with a friend or coworker. Work out a deal on gas, which will still be cheaper than public transit. The reason why I say work out a deal is because everyone’s money & time riding is different. I ride with a group of friends 2 days a week to our hospital externship & we use one car because hers can hold us all & our supplies comfortably. We all pay $10 a week. Even with carpooling, you should have public transit as back up or a dependable friend with a car.
Solution 3: A good pair of walking shoes, because sometimes you just gotta walk. Bonus: free exercise! Don’t laugh, I’m serious! Once in high school my bus didn’t pick me up and my school was on 100th street. I lived on 9th & yes, streets were organized numerically. I had to walk home under the A train. Two hours & two drinks later, I made it! A lady took pity on me & gave me a dollar, which I spent on the drinks. If I had enough for the bus, I would have gotten it, especially since there was one that stopped on the street before my apartment.
A few other handy tricks I use that aren’t common:
-Take the free circulars. There’s coupons for things you least expect. (The reason why I listed it as uncommon is because people throw them out often when they get their mail or don’t pick them up).
-Sign up for free customer alerts & savings. The CVS card is the bomb!
-If you’re hungry & don’t have a lot of money, find places that offer samples. You can’t sit there for an hour and eat, but you may get enough to take the edge off your hunger until you get home. A good place for that is a deli. Ask to try samples of food you were looking into buying. You can get away with a good 2 or 3 things.
-Be wary of online shopping. Stuff may be cheap, but lately I’ve noticed that they’re hitting you in the shipping department. They say it’s because of the cost of gas but I doubt that. If shipping is more than a fourth of my final price, I look elsewhere. It’s not cost effective. You may as well just go to the store.
-Finally, you have to sacrifice. Sometimes you have to do what you have to until you can do what you want to do. I LOVE manicures but the $10+ I spend on that every two weeks can go towards paying up a bill or buying groceries. Since I will have to buy a lot of my own supplies (until I get hooked up with an awesome job), I can’t afford little luxuries for the time being. I invested in some fun colors and a nail kit, and my nails look just as nice as if the lady painted them for me.
What would you add to this list?