How to survive with little or no money

    Strapped for cash? So poor that your piggy bank has collapsed on itself? Never fear—money is all around us.

    How to earn money

    Participate in a Kellogg School-conducted study. Often times, they offer reasonable pay per half hour (more than $5) with a chance of bonus during the session. You’d probably spend this time getting fat in front of your computer, anyway.

    Sell your stuff. We all have stuff we don’t need that someone would die to have (or at least pay a few bucks for), whether it’s a Limited Edition Yoda Giant Pez Dispenser or an empty photo album. I know—some useless items have sentimental value. Decide how desperate you are for cash, and then let go of SOMEthing. Offer it up on your dorm’s listserv or sell it on eBay.

    Get a job.

    Sell your textbooks directly to people.
    Try not to sell it back to the bookstore, as they give you 1/100th of your money back and are stupid.

    Offer your services and expertise in exchange for money. Don’t start turning tricks or anything, just tutor kids or baby-sit. Often times, registrars in any office on campus will know of someone in Evanston who needs a tutor or a babysitter.

    How to retain money

    Don’t buy shit you don’t need. Simple as that. Find ways to remind yourself that spending a little here and there will definitely add up, even if it means eating nothing but ketchup packets and Splenda ‘til you head home for the winter. Tie a string around your finger. Put up posters of starving children (or Nicole Richie). Just don’t spend money unless you have to.

    How to eat for free

    Attend guest lectures, speeches and student group gatherings. Often times, they offer free food and drinks to attendees, like pizza and soda. Be prepared to fill up on snacks, like cheese and crackers. It many not look like a “meal” to you, but any food is a meal if you eat enough of it.

    If you see food at a gathering to which you were not invited, make sure you are dressed well enough to blend in with the people around you, and walk the walk. Act like you were invited and start eating. Do not cram food into your mouth or pockets and run away. Be casual. Make conversation. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve scored a free lunch this way.

    Have a friend smuggle food out of the dining hall for you. I have no qualms about this, as our meal plans are heinously expensive and, personally, I never eat my money’s worth at Hinman. This is not stealing. This is getting your money’s worth.

    Feast on free samples at places like Whole Foods. The salsa is divine.

    How to ask for money

    This should be your last resort. Being in debt to ANYONE sucks, and it’s not that hard to score cash (as I have already explained). But if you must, approach someone you’re close to, explain your dire situation, and then politely ask for money. Do not ask for too much. Humility is key here. Even if you do not feel it, act embarrassed (and anyway, you should be embarrassed). This behavior is more likely to create sympathy for you. Tell the person that you’ll return their money by a set date, which you two should work out. And then stick to the deadline. Make sure you pay your friend/parent/relation back. They could lead a double life of mafia relations and hit men…but seriously, pay them back or you risk breaking your friendship and being a lame-ass.

    So remember—be smart and don’t blow your money away again!


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