Tips for the broke and the hungry

College certainly has its upsides; I think that’s something we can all agree on. For example, living with friends and taking naps during the middle of the day are something that high school never included. Still, with great fun comes great expense. With a whopping $32,490 tuition, how does one survive?

1. Get a job
Unless you’ve been fed with silver spoons and fall asleep counting the digits of your trust fund, it should go without saying that your parents should not be handling all of your financial responsibility. You’re an adult. This is the real world. Get with it. If your parents can help you out, then by all means consider yourself blessed and take them up on their offer. Just don’t take advantage. Phelps is hiring. The Anchor is hiring. Opportunities are honestly endless within the range of Hope College. Show a little initiative and it may even help you with applications one day.

2. Work the system
Are you struggling to pay for your meal plan? Luckily, if you work at oh, say, Phelps, you are fed every time you work. Want to work four or five days a week? Sweet, so now you can change your meal plan to the next one down. Not only are you making money while you work, but you’re eating a free meal so that you don’t have to spend the money paying the college. It’s an easy fix. I’ve done it 3/3 years and running and it helps so much.

3. Spend wisely
Now that you know what it feels like to earn money and to pay for something on a monthly basis, you should know that money isn’t earned easily. Money is a precious commodity. So, that daily cup at LemonJello’s? Tone it down to once a week. Coffee made at home is by no means better than a sip of an Invincible latté, but it sure is cheaper. Don’t worry, it can be coaxed down one’s throat with extra creamer. I know it’s hard, but you can buy almost a whole bag of coffee for five dollars. Put that into perspective.

4. Less is more Food.
Yes. I know. I love it too. But I’m going to help you make some good choices, okay? Food can be either your best friend or your worst enemy in college. Fatty, greasy, sticky and sweet food—watch how it sneaks onto your plate as you contemplate whether fries count as a vegetable serving because they are made of potatoes or not. Your salad isn’t doing its job if you can’t see it beneath the bacon and ranch. Honestly, just grab a sandwich at the City Delicatessen instead of ordering a pizza. Say yes to the donut run but say no to the nightly ice cream at Phelps. You’ll save more than just your budget.

5. Find friends who understand your limitations
I can’t give you an exact number, but the amount of times I’ve been with a friend and said yes to something that my bank account begged me to say no to is quite high. When my best friend is in town, we are tempted to go all out and immediately regret it the following week when bills are due. But friends don’t let other friends not pay their bills so scrounge the cabinet for something to snack on. Split gas for a trip to the beach. Steal the Netflix password that your brother hides at home and throw a movie night. Make friendship affordable.

6. Boxed food goes a long way

Don’t be fooled by the boxes of Ramen sitting on the shelves that seem like too much for one person. You can do it. Every once and a while when you forget to defrost your food (again) and your project took too long to work on, a Ramen noodle can save a life. Macaroni and cheese is equally as useful. Spice it up with some broccoli or kale. The point is, hunger is random and cruel at some points. Have no guilt in indulging in some snacks every once and a while.

7. When in doubt, visit home

I live in Holland, so I have the advantage of a father who sends me cookout leftovers as often as possible and a mother who will take me on random errands and feed me. For those who can make it home more often—do it. You should be visiting your family often anyways, so why not do so and consider home cooking over pizza one night? You won’t regret it. Promise.

8. Food with friends is fun
Food is always better when shared, right? In an effort to save money (and potentially impress friends/significant others too) get together and make some things. I know that it’s easiest for my boyfriend and I shop for food together and split not only the cost, but the cooking and cleaning as well in order to best use our time and money. Making some soup or spaggetti with friends is relatively cheap and even more fun as you quiz one another for your test tomorrow.

9. Work when you can (and sometimes when you shouldn’t)
It’s never fun to cancel plans on account of the fact that you have to work. It also isn’t fun to cancel massive study plans on account of the fact that you have to work. Well, not all of college can be fun, right? You won’t regret the feeling of having more than zeroes in your bank account when you take Winter Break and acquire over forty hours in a week. Trust me, some days it will feel better to know that after a long day of work, at least you earned the bed you sleep in, right? Make a stand to be a smart broke college student. You won’t regret it.

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