DISCLAIMER: This is a satirical piece. It does not necessarily represent the views of the Exponent or its writers.
Between groceries, beer and gas, each paycheck earned seems to disappear in the blink of an eye. Apparently, I’m not alone. According to Edvisors, 76% of those polled said they had gone broke at some point in their college career. Being broke is a college staple — a subject of post-grad jokes and current student gripes.
Instead of crying over a declined debit card, we should look for the hidden gems of the broke lifestyle.
Perhaps the best part of being broke is the diet. Costco packs of Top Ramen can last weeks, if not months. A 24-pack of Top Ramen goes for around $31 at most retailers, meaning each sodium-filled meal costs you about $1.30. Instant noodles are great for any meal of the day, too. Late for class and need an early morning snack? Cook some with an egg in it. Ramen also makes a great lunch or dinner. If you’re feeling fancy, use some saltine crackers as an appetizer. Plus, instant ramen can be tackled by even the most novice college cook. Cup of Noodle is even easier than its stovetop counterpart. All that’s needed is a quick zap in the microwave and you have yourself a delicious meal.
You need somewhere to sit while you eat your ramen, and furniture can be the priciest part of living on your own. Couches are perhaps the most important piece in the home, and sites like Craigslist have a large supply of everything from barely-used designer couches to free, thirty-year-old couches described as “well-loved.” If after cleaning, your new (used) couch still has ubiquitous stains, that’s OK. Try playing the game of “What’s that stain?” with your housemates. It makes a great pastime for nights in, and soon you’ll add stains of your own. Used couches are already comfortable and worn-in, and you never have to worry about your dog covering it in hair because it likely has 15 years worth of dog hair under the cushions. While it may not be the leather sectional you have at your parents’ place, don’t be afraid of the “well-loved” couch.
Another staple of the broke life is the adrenaline rush you feel when your gas light turns on. Those quick trips back and forth from home to the liquor-store and school take a toll on your gas tank until that quarter tank you had two weeks ago is now at the red-line. Have no fear, there is still gas in your car. Anyone who’s been truly broke has had the privilege of learning that most cars have 2.5 gallons left, which means your 1995 Outback can take you another 40 miles even after that little light turns on.
Most of us know the cost associated with a brand new bed frame and instead opt to just leave the mattress on the ground. Once considered only a habit of college students, this has now become a design trend. Architectural Digest even featured the idea in an article titled “It’s Okay to Put Your Bed on the Floor.” The article read, “Zipping yourself into the cozy cocoon of a sleeping bag on a camping trip is one of those seemingly trivial moments that gives you warm fuzzies every time — so why not recreate that experience at home? Say goodbye to your lofty bed frame and box spring and place your mattress on the floor.” If interior design connoisseurs advocate for it, you shouldn’t be ashamed of your bed-frame-free way of life.
One day, we will be in our own homes with couches from a showroom floor, eating healthy meals. We will reminisce on the days that having enough gas to get from Point A to Point B was our biggest concern. So savor those movie nights on your old, stained couch. Cook the day’s fourth bowl of ramen with a smile on your face. Our degrees from MSU will at least afford us a frozen pizza once we graduate.