The saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” may have originated way back in the 1600s, but it’s still relevant.
Today, though, too much work doesn’t make you dull; it makes you overwhelmed.
As a student, this stress can quickly turn into academic burnout. Yes, you want to get good grades and work hard, but you also need to take an occasional break.
When you’re on a tight budget, though, the stress of finding ways to enjoy your life is a problem.
But with these seven tips, it’s possible to maintain a work-life balance and stick to your budget.
1. Look For Free Activities
If you watch a lot of commercials, it can make you think you have to buy your way to fun. But you don’t have to spend money to enjoy life — you just have to know where to look for the free stuff.
There are plenty of activities that are really cheap or totally free, and if you get a student discount, you have even more options.
Places To Visit On The Cheap Side
Nature lovers can explore the local parks and find hiking or biking trails. You might not have a state forest in your city, but there’s probably one within an hour or two. These places are perfect for camping and often have water access for swimming or fishing. Bring a picnic basket, lots of water, and a few dollars for the admission fee, and you have an entire day of entertainment.
Major museums, movie theaters, and libraries typically have times throughout the week where they’re either free or “pay what you want.” Check the websites of places near you for discounted times.
Your town or county’s Facebook page probably has a list of events going on in your area. Follow the local pages, and you’ll see lots of free and cheap entertainment nearby.
2. Nab A Side Gig
Working and going to school doesn’t leave you a lot of free time. But if you have a skill you enjoy, it can turn into a side gig.
Sites like Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr have helped millions of people start freelance careers. Business owners advertise their job descriptions on each site. If you have the skills to do the work, you can apply for the opening.
Delivering food is a potentially lucrative side gig. You get to work on your own schedule and make extra money when you need it most. Sign up with DoorDash, Instacart, or Uber Eats to start earning money today.
There are dozens of delivery companies offering their services everywhere. The cool part is you can work for as many as you want, increasing your potential to earn big bucks.
If you drive a lot in popular cities, you could make money by having your car wrapped. Companies like Wrapify pay drivers to advertise their campaigns for a few weeks or months. When the campaign is over, the wrap is removed with no harm to your car, and you get paid!
Side gigs help you improve the quality of your life, save money, and work on a schedule of your choosing.
3. Split The Adventure Costs
Anything is expensive if you’re footing the bill by yourself. But if you have people you enjoy hanging out with who also like to have fun, it’s easier when you all share the costs.
Why not get together with friends to rent a hotel for a weekend? Split the cost of a couple of tanks of gas (depending on where you’re going), the hotel, and cheap groceries. If there are extra expenses, each person pays their own way after that.
If that’s still too much, a game night might be more affordable. Invite a group of friends and split the hosting expenses.
Come up with a menu and let them know how much their share will be. Pizza, chips, and drinks are an easy five-dollars-per-person way to go, and everyone approves!
4. Sell Your Stuff
As a college student, you probably left a lot of your stuff behind. But if you have anything lying around, like games you don’t use or clothes you don’t wear, you could make some money off of it.
There are quite a few avenues you can pick from to offload your unwanted things.
Decluttr is an easy way to get rid of video games, DVDs, and hardware. The upside is that it’s simple to use, and you get your money fast. The downside is that they only offer pennies on the dollar for most items.
Some secondhand stores will buy your stuff from you if they think they can resell it. You’ll get a reasonable amount, but they still need to make a profit.
If you don’t mind waiting around for your items to sell, check with a consignment shop. They’ll put your items in their inventory, and you’ll get the money for the sale minus their commission.
If you want all the money without the middleman, you can sell your stuff through a site like Facebook Marketplace.
The downside to this is that it takes up more of your time because you deal with each potential buyer directly. Sometimes, they’re scammers. A real transaction nets you the most profit, though.
5. Rent Textbooks (Instead Of Buying)
Aside from tuition and lodging, textbooks are your next biggest expense. What do you do with them after you’re done with the course?
You could try to resell them, but you may only get ten bucks for a $100 (or more) book. Or worse, they come out with a new edition right after your class, and your textbook is worthless.
You can save a lot of money by renting your books. Companies like Chegg, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble offer textbook rental programs for college students. Shop around and see which ones give you the best deal.
The easiest way to do this is to get the ISBN number of the book you need. Head over to textbookrentals.com, plug in the number and compare the quotes from dozens of rental companies.
6. Skip The Impulse Buys
When you go to a store or restaurant, do you throw things in the cart or order them without planning to?
Impulse buys take up a large percentage of many people’s budgets, and they don’t even realize it.
As financial expert Dave Ramsey explains, impulse buying is fun, and it gives you that quick hit of dopamine in your brain that makes you feel good.
The average American spends almost $200 on impulse buys each month. Can you afford $2400 a year on things you eat in five minutes or never use at all?
Try to make a list of what you need when you go to the store. If it’s not on the list, don’t get it. You’ll notice the savings add up fast!
7. Track Your Money
You know you’re making money, but you’re not sure where it’s going. It could be that you don’t monitor your bank statements too often, and it’s easy to use cash and debit cards.
Our bank apps make it so much easier not to have to deal with balancing our budgets. But, it’s also normal to forget that you bought something that didn’t clear for a few days or that you wrote a check for the first time in forever.
If you don’t use a register to monitor your spending, you can find yourself in that “oh shoot” situation when your balance is in the negative.
By tracking your money, you have a better idea of what comes in and goes out. Use an expense tracker to get real with your spending habits.
As a college student, sometimes you have to decide between studying and finding ways to make money.
With these seven tips, the choice doesn’t have to be stressful. You can enjoy your life, focus on school, and save money at the same time!
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