3 things everyone can take away from being broke in college

Everyone has a “broke in college” story. The concept of being broke in college transcends time, unfortunately. All students come from a variety of life experiences that would make some more broke than others. Some people have financial support from family, others don’t. Others qualify for financial aid, lots of folks do not. Mostly every student has a loan. Which is only money you have to pay back later. With those, you’re double broke. I firmly dislike having little or no money, but after conceptualizing the matter a bit, there’s actually a lot that can be taken away from the *temporary* situation.

1. Waiting makes it sweeter. Remember being a kid and wanting that ONE TOY and begging every family member for it once you got tired of asking your parents? For me it was an Easy Bake Oven. And as far as Hasbro goes,  it was probably really good

Literally the contents of my wallet

gendered advertizing. Dunno why I wasn’t going for the Lincoln Logs. I wish I did looking back in hindsight. But, in any case, when I did eventually get that Easy Bake Oven. Man oh man, I used it until the thing stopped working. I baked every type of delicious flour based confection known to humanity. I know that if I got it right when I wanted it, instead of years later, I wouldn’t have appreciated it as much. I would have grown tired of it. When I waited for it, I realized I really wanted it. When I realized I really waited it, there was nothing that could stop me from getting it. When I got it, I appreciated it. My life was better because of it.
OK, I know it was just an Easy Bake Oven, BUT, I use this simplistic analogy to help get me though times when I particularly hate being broke or want out of a particular life situation. For example, when I realized I wanted to explore photography as a teen, I used the same $99 point-and-shoot Kodak camera for years and took college level photography class before I actually got a DSLR. Another example–I worked tons of odd jobs in high school and at the start of college–as a smoothie maker, a make-up counter “beauty specialist”, a Halloween costume “aficionado”,  and even a fry cook– before I landed a job at the non-profit I wanted to work at so badly. And another example–I’ve known since kindergarten I wanted to go to college. I waited 12 years and switched my major many times within those years before I actually had the privilege of getting here. Once I got here, I maintained a 3.8 GPA and never missed a college class I honestly didn’t have to. I’m also active on campus, and I transferred from a community college to a university (far away from home, mind you) to save thousands of dollars (I’m a stressed out college student..I’ll save that for another blog,).  Limitlesson 1: Wait for it, live without it for a while, and appreciate it when it finally arrives. Easier said than done, I know. Can you think of moments in your own life where waiting made the end result better?

2. Lack of funds makes you creative, efficient. Can’t afford to get your car oil changed? Have a friend teach you how he or she does it (I don’t know how to do this yet, but my boyfriend does). Can’t ever afford to eat out now-a-days? Learn to cook. Don’t know how to cook? Connect with friends, co-workers, family–make a day out of it, build community, learn the tricks of the cooking trade from the skilled ones in your life. Love getting facials, eyebrow waxing, mani/pedis? Learn to do it yourself! (If

In 3rd grade someone told me that Otter Pops only cost 2 cents if you buy them separately. Obviously a lie. But if it were true, I could buy a ton of those.

anyone wants their fingernails painted by a lightweight pro, hit me up, for real!). Want to save gas, or not buy a parking pass at school? Walk. Carpool. Bike. Bus. Scooter. Rollerblade. Skateboard. Want to save money on meals? Cook it yourself, hit up local farmers markets, share your food with your broke friends and vice versa (and build community and contribute to it, too). Wanna watch a movie but the theaters are too damn expensive? Rent one for free from the library. Too much free time without the excess dough? Read a book, write a blog (he he..), volunteer in the community, watch that one movie you haven’t seen yet (or the one you love over and over again), call a loved one, text a friend, bake a cake (in your 90′s Easy Bake!!!), finish that book you were writing (or thinking about writing), veg out on cool YouTube programming (may I recommend The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl or DeanLeysen?), discover cool websites (StumbleUpon, this cool list on About.com, TED, or RadioLab?). Work-out, lift weights. Explore podcasts on iTunes. Start of Vblog. Do yoga and meditate (my favorite!). LAUGH! SMILE! There’s tons of stuff to do.

Oh, don’t have an internet connection? Go to a Library. Visit a Friend’s house. There’s also your parents house. Limitlesson 2: Build connections, have fun and focus on

3.The important things in life. I found that when I’m not worrying about buying things or going to expensive places, I can focus on the present moment. For those of you who haven’t read Eckhart Tolle, the present moment is a pretty cool place to be. It helps you focus, it helps you appreciate life. It reminds you of reality. Remember that feeling the Easy Bake Oven gave me before I even really knew how to even read? That feeling of pure childlike bliss that wasn’t tainted by want, or vanity, or worry, or non forgiveness? That’s the place I want to be. That’s the state of mind I want to be in when his *temporary* broke situation is finally in the past, after I finish this B.A. in Journalism and B.S. in Women’s Studies. By then I think I would have learned the real value of a dollar. Limitlesson 3: What the heck really matters to you? Find out!

Maybe we can all learn something from being broke. Being broke isn’t specific to being in college. Imagine being in financial hardships when entire people rely on you, when your way of life is threatened, or when there’s no where else to turn. Some have been through these, others have not. I’m not going to pretend to have the answers. But, sometimes taking a step back, breathing, looking at the larger picture, and taking it day by day helps a lot. For now.

 
Vanessa

9 thoughts on “3 things everyone can take away from being broke in college

  1. I was one of the lucky ones with a scholarship. Although I guess luck doesn’t really come into it, I still count myself as lucky. I didn’t have school fees to worry about.

    I was 20 when I was a student and living in an apartment in the city with 3 others. I didn’t qualify for financial aid for rent because the government said that until I was aged 25, I was still considered a minor. My parents didn’t qualify for financial aid because the government said that since I was over 18, I was now an adult. So I got a loan which I paid back within 1 year of graduating.

    I spent all my money on art supplies and printing for school. No toys or clothes, but food and drink were my treats.

    I also worked most nights at my parents shop and while I didn’t get much $$ in the family business, I was welcome to take food home. I never starved as a student. That I consider to be lucky.

    If you take on a part time job, consider the perks. If you’re a design student, working at a print shop will save you a lot on printing. If you are worried about feeding yourself, work a part time job in the food industry and at least that’s a few meals a week you will never have to worry about. I would not recommend bartending for students. That’s a slippery slope.

      • I got a full time job about a week or two after the end of my degree. It was only data entry at a big company I had worked at on and off part time since I was about 15 years old. So when they found out I was available full time, they snatched me up. But data-entry wasn’t what I got a degree in graphic design to do! Luckily they knew this so I was welcome to take afternoons or mornings off to attend interviews. I looked for a “real job” for 8 months so I am glad that I got the data-entry job straight away. I know of people that don’t work any job to “pay the bill” because they’re holding off on the perfect job. I say, get a job you don’t care about to pay your bills (and your loans), but don’t let it stop you looking.

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