When students are trying to conserve money an interesting thought process occurs. You see students often have a much different priority list than most of society (many people would refer to that portion as the “sane” group). Whereas most people would consider a balanced diet, and washing laundry to be basic necessities, students hard up for cash consider these luxuries. Becoming a “vegetarian” (eating ramen noodles and pasta with “red sauce”) starts too look pretty tempting to students in the last couple months before full-time summer employment kicks in again. The fact is, that while students will debate about whether they can stretch that shirt an extra week, many don’t think twice about plopping down a hundred bucks for a night at the bar, a show, or a game. I realize the majority of students are not exactly personal finance gurus, and probably don’t want to be, but here are a few cheap entertainment tips to make sure you aren’t drinking the worst Canadian beer out there by the end of the year… or even worse – having to buy American domestic!
1) Check Out The Game
Support your school sports teams, or even the local minor league club. Many Canadian schools have absolutely terrible student participation in their athletics. I get that not everyone is a jock (or a wannabe in my case), but everyone can have fun at events. Since I was crackin on our southern brethren’s brew tastes up above, I have to give credit where it is due in terms of sport support. The US colleges and universities figured it out a long time ago folks, supporting your school is a great way to blow off some steam (and coming up with creative ways to heckle opponents is a sport that everyone can partake in!). Most places will either allow students in for free, or for an extremely modest price tag. In terms of pure dollar-value entertainment you can’t beat it. If you crave professional sports, the local minor league teams likely offer nearly the same level of competition for a tenth of the price. Isn’t it more the atmosphere your after anyway? If it’s a view you want, inviting your buddies over and watching on a big screen is a way better solution.
2) That Old Movie Place Has Character!
Look for the cheap movie theatre in your area that gets movies slightly later than the expensive place down the road. Likely they have a students night where you can get an extra good deal. As a guy that is forever trying to watch his waistline I try to forgo the snack line, but many of my friends would pull the old sneak it in using the purse or inner pocket routine. We used to go to the “cheap seats” all the time for about a fifth of what the “good place” cost.
3) Go Hear REAL Singing
Instead of seeing the latest over-produced, lip-syncing pop star coming through town, go see the same song done by one of your peers at a local “students sing” night. I’m not talking the lame drunk karaoke stuff (although this too can be fun under the right circumstances), but instead the actual music scene. Admittedly these types of events can be a little too “hipster” at times, but there is usually someone there to liven up the show, and I’ve always found that the amount of talent on display really surprising. I can honestly say I never went to any sort of “open mic night” without being blown away by at least a couple of people. Again, these things are usually free. You might even get inspired to learn to sing yourself. Here you can find the best singing teachers.
4) Beer – It’s Whats For Dinner
Most of you probably already figured this out, but drinks cost way more at the bar (especially when your trying to impress those ladies, and holding up your end with your boys at the same time) than they do in your dorm room or apartment. I wrote a little article looking especially at ways to save money by partying, but the Cliff Notes version reads: Pre-game at your place until at least 11 (does anything really happen before this time anyway?) and since beer is an acquired taste, acquire a taste for cheap beer. I even had some friends that took up beer making as a hobby. It didn’t taste too bad (at least the second dozen didn’t) and they saved a ton of cash! If you are worried about getting stuck in line by coming late, I highly suggest making good friends with the guys that run your campus bar. Just talking to them a little, getting to know what their deal is, will definitely pay dividends. As a side benefit, they will be sure to notice you are a “regular” and are donating a large portion of your student loan there every week, so they are bound to treat you well. I’ve found that at most campus pubs, the offensive lineman or wrestling team are often the bouncers, since I was always going to see their games, I would simply talk shop with them and it was amazing how many free drinks seemed to come my way and how few lines I had to wait in!
5) Live In Residence
Yes, I’m sure you’re getting sick of me plugging on-campus living, but one of the fringe benefits to paying that rent premium is the amount of cheap (usually free) programming that is designed for you, by young people. Sure a board game sounds lame… until you throw in adult beverages, competitive gender trash talking, and other creative twsits!
6) Join A Student Group
I’m not sure why joining a student group gets such a bad rap. I’ve seen tons of guys who claim the video game group must be full of nerds… and then go home and play video games all night. I had buddies that joined cheerleading, I had the same immediate reaction most red-blooded males would have, until they pointed out that while I was playing pick-up basketball with a bunch of sweaty dudes, they were catching beautiful women all afternoon. Both J.B. and I are also huge on the benefits of student government, and believe that everyone should give it a shot in some minor capacity! All of this stuff is not only free, but it often has numerous little perks that lead to all kinds of small ways to save money.
What was your favourite cheap activity to do while in school? Of course maybe the best suggestion would be to do something productive like study or start up a side business, but hey, you’re only young once right?