University Frugality Part II: Additional Strategies
The project of becoming more frugal is a never-ending one. If you are really paying attention, you should be able to come up with new strategies as you go. The following list is only a partial addition to Alex Dorward’s article on University Frugality. Truly frugal individuals are always coming up with new ideas, so the list is never complete. However, the following covers all you need to know about a few more basic ways to save (or make) a buck.
Take advantage of campus events
Oftentimes university clubs, departments, or other groups hold information sessions, presentations, or other such events for which they provide free food. These groups know that the way to a student’s heart is through his/her stomach, so prove them right and award their foresight by showing up and systematically eating as much as possible. The lack of food left over at the end of the event is one sign of its success. In the case of events offering “refreshments,” this need not pose a risk to your plan to get a free meal. Popular refreshments include things like a veggie and dip platter, cheese and crackers, bagels, and mini-sandwiches. Refreshments like these quite easily become a satisfying meal when you simply eat more than you were expected to. Remember, you are the only one standing in the way of allowing refreshments to become a meal by not eating enough. So, refresh yourself plentifully and leave satisfied. Besides, would it kill you to get involved in more events around campus? (Even if your involvement is limited to events serving free food.)
Buying cologne or perfume is for idiots and the wealthy
Buying cologne or perfume is not cheap, unless you want to smell cheap, and even then your supply will run out over time and require you to buy more. The obvious solution for those interested in saving money is to only use FREE cologne and perfume. There are two basic (legal) ways to go about this. The first way entails getting free samples online, such as through canadafreestuff.ca or free-samples.ca. These websites email subscribers daily with freebies and samples and they frequently include fragrance promotions. In some instances, you can print out a coupon that you can redeem for free samples at an indicated retailer, and in other instances you submit your address and wait for your sample to arrive in the mail. The second basic way to get free cologne is perhaps more obvious and definitely more fun. On your way to the bar, to a party, to class, or to anywhere else you want to smell nice, simply stop off at the nearest fragrance retailer and take advantage of the free sample bottles. You can stop by every day to freshen up if there is a retailer nearby. Applying a different scent every day makes you appear wealthy enough to buy multiple fragrances, when in reality you are simply frugal enough not to.
Veggies on the side
As a student, you should avoid eating out in most cases due to the cost. However, if you must eat out occasionally I suggest going to Subway. Not only can you order some great subs from their cheap menu, but you can add some value to your order by getting vegetables on the side. Many people are unaware this is an option. To maximize frugality, order your toppings and then ask for a bunch of vegetables on the side. The ‘sandwich artist’ will put some extra veggies in a bag or cup and you are free to take them with you. Save them for a free snack later on.
Don’t forget about tap water
Tap water can be (and should be) a student’s best friend. Access to clean water is not a reality for many around the world. However, if you are someone lucky enough to have access to clean tap water, take advantage of this. It is no longer a secret that bottled water is no better for you than good old, clean, tap water. More and more people are also becoming aware of the environmental ramifications that result from mass consumption of bottled water. The most obvious selling point of tap water is, of course, price. As a race, human beings constantly challenge the notion that they possess superior intellect by spending a ton of money on something that is available to them for virtually no cost. Unless you find yourself in a situation where clean tap water is not readily available (and it does happen), tap water is a must. Tap water can also be used to prolong the life of certain household products. Use a bit of water to slightly dilute soap, shampoo, milk, juice, mouthwash or other common liquids to save money while noticing little or no difference to that which you dilute. Making scrambled eggs? Add a pinch of water (or watered down milk) to the pan to give your eggs some fluff. When you think about it, the possibilities with water are almost endless.
Become a test subject
No, I don’t mean a sketchy clinical study where you ingest some new pharmaceutical prototype to see if it cures your allergies or helps you sleep better, only to be left blind and sterile. The tests I’m talking about are not quite as risky, and can even be quite fun. Psychology departments tend to be the main source of these tests so check out the Psych department on campus and online. Other departments offer studies too, although usually to a lesser degree, such as with the Music department. Last week I played some cool memorization games on a computer for 40 minutes and then sang the national anthem. Oh yeah, and then I got $10 and was on my way. Not only is it fun to come into money, but getting it (legally) when you don’t feel that you did anything to deserve it is an extra-special feeling – like winning the lottery! Some studies will definitely be more fun than others, but let me paint a picture of how glorious it can be. One evening, a friend and I participated in a study revolving around the effects of alcohol. We drank free booz, ate free chips, watched The Simpsons, and chatted with the student conducting the study. After generating a nice buzz, we were each given $15 cash and a free ride home. There are worse ways to kick-start a predrink.
An easy (and surprisingly underutilized) strategy is to get a credit card that gives you money back with every purchase and actually use it for EVERY PURCHASE. You may find cards that offer 0.5% or even 1% of your money back with every purchase. This one is a complete no-brainer. As long as you know you will be able to pay off your credit card bill, there is no reason not to use your credit card wherever it is accepted. You are going to spend money anyway, so why not make some money doing it. If you’re into travelling, a travel miles card may be more up your alley. The point is to use a credit card that gives you something in return, rather than spending money and not getting anything back from your bank. Every time I see someone paying with cash or debit, I cringe, and you should too.
Surrender your pride
An important rule to remember in your quest to save or make money is to realize that pride is only going to hinder you. Unless you are in a situation where being proud will somehow save or make you money, check your pride at the door. Not being proud will allow you to detect opportunities for frugality because you will not be concerned with what people might say. So what if you have a habit of leaving the local fragrance retailer smelling much better than when you entered? Anyone who snickers at you is only doing so because they wish they could stop worrying about what people thought and start being frugal.