Party Hard, Save Hard

Ok, university and college Freshmen (or “freshies” as you will now be referred to) listen up.  With school back in session the next few weeks, there will be a temptation to consume copious amounts of adult beverages and generally let off some steam with people of your own age.  As someone who has some fairly extensive experience with the first week of school, I believe I have some hard won tips on how to maximize your good times, while at the same time keeping enough of that new and shiny student loan intact to at least pay for first-term’s tuition.

Party Hard – Get It Out Of Your System

My first tip, is simply to get out there and party.  Now I should be fully upfront in saying that my definition of party does not include illegal substances of any kind (pranks and stunts that straddle the “grey” area of legal maybe acceptable on a case-by-case basis).  But seriously, please use the first week or two of school to meet new people, and scratch any real party itch that you may have.  I maintain that this is an effective long-term strategy because the more you get out of your system the first week (when nothing all that important will be talked about in class anyway) the less inclined you will be to do something dumb like the other freshies and go out and get hammered the day before a mid-term, or hand in a term paper late due to unforeseen exposure to alcohol.  Get familiar with your surroundings, experience new things (again, within limits… remember I am a high school teacher after all, so my idea of “expanding your horizons” is pretty tame), meet new people from a variety of backgrounds, and most of all, try to make sure that you are sick of partying by the end of second week.  By the end of the second week you should be ready to read the rest of the tips on this site and get productive.  Remember that the more productive you are, and the better use of time management principles you make, the more time will be available for the events mentioned above throughout the year.

Who Are You Trying To Impress?

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Now on to specific tips to save you money while you experience the first week of classes your initial time (I was going to title this article “How To Party Frugally,” but that sounded like pretty much the lamest, nerdiest thing I have ever written).  First and foremost: drink cheap beer.  I know you think you need to show off how “mature” and “cool” you are by trying to buy the premium booze, but it will not be worth it when you have to beg the parents for money, or watch the negative number add up in your bank account by April.  A wise man named Forrest Griffin (a UFC veteran and two-time bestselling author… yes, you did read that correctly) once bestowed upon his readers a brilliant insight.  It was, “Most people agree beer is an acquired taste, so you might as well acquire a taste for cheap beer.”  Truer worlds were never spoken.  You can put that one up there beside all the quotes and name dropping your professors will do over the next few years.

The Clothes Do Not Make The Man/Woman

Secondly, don’t go spend a mint on a new wardrobe.  Ladies, as a guy, let me give you some advice about attracting my species.  We have no idea what anything costs, nor would we care if we did.  We don’t really think high heels, or ultra-elite brand names are necessary at first-week parties.  While we realize that makeup provides you with a sort of security blanket, we will never notice the finer details, so please, please, don’t spend all your time in front of a mirror when you could be enjoying life!  If a guy does notice any of this, is really worth talking to anyway?  Trust me, you will get noticed, it really isn’t that hard in this sort of environment.  Just wear something you can be comfortable in, that basically isn’t a sweat suit, end of story.  Unless you’re going to USC, real university students don’t dress like you see on TV, we usually too hung-over, sleep-deprived, or otherwise distracted to care.

Guys, next time you’re at a party (and not those ridiculous high school parties you used to go to where the guy who frequents the rapper’s goodwill store is the standard) take a look around at which gentleman tend to get the most attention from the ladies.  The vast majority of the time it has nothing to do with having 3 pounds of gel in their hair, or the latest polo shirt on.  Usually the guy at the center of it all just has something that stands out.  It is often a $10-$15 shirt with some ridiculously witty saying on it, or a true lumberjack plaid shirt (not those rip-offs they mark up by 400% and then sell at Ambercrombie).  If you’re a good looking guy the women will find you, if you’re not, be the funny/witty/different one.  Remember that you’re talking to experience here.  There will plenty of opportunities to try and meet and impress young ladies, just have fun and for god’s sake, don’t primp more than they do (ladies back me up on this one)!

Party Hard – There Is Something To This Whole Limit Thing

Going out does not mean you have to get completely blacked out to the point of questions as to whether you have alcohol poisoning come into play.  You have to pace yourself.  Remember that this partying thing is a marathon, not a sprint.  You have to build up endurance, and occasionally take a rest day.  You think I’m joking, but you’ll learn.

Don’t Say Yes

Finally, there will be people offering you all kinds of illegal substances and cigarettes.  I’m not going to give the, “Just say no sermon,” but suffice to say, I have seen drugs mess up a lot of promising people including some of my closest friends.  Don’t be “that guy/girl.”  I know that when your 17/18 many people will tell you holding a cigarette makes you look older, but the truth is that it will just eat away at your bank account and take you away from all the action since there is no smoking in most public places these days.  Don’t waste an hour out of your day in a “smoking zone.”  There are plenty of new things to see and do without going into this world.  Plus, it will save you a lot of money!

“There Is One In Every Crowd…”

One thing you cannot do, even in the name of saving money, is skip buying your round if this is your chosen inebriation process.  This does not make you a good money manager, it simply makes you cheap.  If you do this the first week, your post-secondary experience will immediately lose a lot of potential.  Just trust me on this one.  It’s part of the bro-code, honour code, and probably some other higher-power codes I’m not currently aware of.

When I graduated high school (yes back in the age of the dinosaurs as my students never cease to remind me) everyone thought they had some piece of advice that would change my life.  Most were useless clichés that faded into the background before they were fully out of someone’s mouth.  The one that stuck with me most was from my old basketball coach.  He shook my hand, looked me straight in the eye and said, “Remember to pass out face down so you will never choke as a result of the night’s consumption, and drink a glass of water before you go to bed so you can get up and get to the gym the next day.”

Man I wish some anonymous angel had given me this “party hard how to” guide for my first week…  Any tips from the peanut gallery out there?

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One of my closest friends and I went to the same university. Our first year, we ended up going to a lot of community events together. In a way, I think it handicapped us from meeting new people since we weren’t forced to interact with others. If you find yourself in a similar situation, I recommend striking out on your own so that you don’t make the same mistake I did and unnecessarily limit your network.

10 years ago

Party flexibly (not a word)…Just because it’s a Tuesday, doesn’t mean you HAVE TO “get hammered.” It’s okay to stay in occasionally.

10 years ago

One more thing to remember: bottom shelf.

Much like acquiring the taste for cheap beer, also acquire taste for the cheap liquors. No poor college student should be drinking Jack Daniels when they could be drinking Old Crow.

10 years ago

Frat parties for those of legal age of course ;) usually free beer if you really want to experience that aspect of college life. But yeah, credit cards were my crutch during that first year and it hurt me all the way out of college. Watch your credit, and spending carefully.

10 years ago

Nice post, loved the pic! :)

Good messages throughout.

I barely remember university, but that’s because it was over 12 years ago, I swear…honest.

Travis @DebtChronicles
10 years ago

Oh boy, it took way longer than a few weeks to “get it out of my system.” it took the whole freshman year. Of course, all my hard classes were review because I did independent study and accelerated classes my last two years of high school. The timing was perfect, because just as I got it out of my system, I met met my future wife. :)

10 years ago

I enjoyed the post – It’s always nice to spice it up a little. Although anything financial is interesting to me, it helps those who get bored with the usually ways to save money. Well done!

10 years ago

Schools next week, can’t wait to put these tips to the test!

“there is only so much budgeting most students are going to do anyway right?”
your students are wrong, you haven’t lost touch with your youth just yet.

10 years ago

Couldn’t agree more on the clothes front. Planning on wearing expensive clothes on a night out? Please don’t. Student clubs/bars = inevitable spillages courtesy of that drunken guy with a beer in either hand and some/all of that spillage will end up over you.

Also save your big nights out for once you’ve handed in the essay or sat the exam- trust me, going out when you’ve got a big deadline just makes you feel all kinds of guilty. You will enjoy your night so much more if it’s accompanied by that sense of ‘yay that’s over’ relief.

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