During my first quarter at Stanford last fall, I watched as my meal plan dollar account quickly depleted, and I began to accept my role as the archetypal Broke College Student. While most of us can relate to smuggling full Tupperware containers out of the dining halls and attending student organization events for the free lunches, there are quite a few lesser-known ways to stretch resources until your summer job starts up.
- If you have a coffee maker, the possibilities for culinary innovation are truly endless. With a pot full of boiling water, you can easily cook pasta, vegetables, hard-boiled eggs or soup. Between your coffee pot creations and the microwavable mug cakes that are all the rage nowadays, you really can cover the whole food pyramid, even without a proper kitchen.
- Iron? Never heard of it. Instead of spending money and precious dorm room storage space on a bulky iron and ironing board, smooth out wrinkles with a flat iron. Make sure to look up the standard temperature guidelines for ironing different types of fabric and adjust the flat iron’s temperature accordingly. Bonus points if you can do this while wearing the clothes in question!
- Guests from home can be few and far between for students who don’t live in California, so unfortunately those five guest meals per quarter often go to waste. If you’re approaching the end of the quarter and you haven’t had any visitors, split meal swipes with a friend who’s in the same boat and get up to five extra dining hall meals each.
- Money spent on air fresheners and incense is money wasted. Instead, hang a few dryer sheets over your room’s air conditioner unit. It’ll make your room smell like fresh laundry, which might just allow you to excuse yourself for the egregiously large pile of dirty clothes threatening to spill over the brim of your hamper. (Don’t worry, we’ve all been there – hey, even though the laundry machines are free, we’re busy people.)
- Forget dogs or diamonds – Command Hooks are any resourceful college student’s best friend. These things can literally organize anything: hang jewelry from them wherever you keep accessories, stick one next to the door so you never leave without your keys or use them as a wall-mounted iPad holder and watch your favorite Netflix series in style and hands-free. Disclaimer: if your walls aren’t made of cement, keep your creativity contained to shelving units and wooden furniture to escape the wrath of R&DE.
- Let’s face it: you’re probably going to log a tragically high number of hours at the campus libraries before you graduate anyway, so you might as well get paid to do it. Securing a coveted work-study job at a library is one of the most rewarding hacks you’ll encounter as a Stanford student. Make a few extra bucks for studying during the job’s ample down time and listen to lecture recordings or podcasts while you shelve books.
- If you can force yourself out of bed earlier than 10 minutes before class in the morning, use the time to hit the gym before you start your day. Go to bed the night before in your comfiest workout clothes so you only have to change clothes once a day. You’ll decrease your laundry frequency and get those endorphins up while you’re at it!
- Sometimes even the most frugal college students can’t resist the temptation of Starbucks just around the corner in Tresidder. When the craving hits, bring along your favorite mug and save $0.10 off that six-dollar, seven-word latte order.
Contact Jackie O’Neil at jroneil ‘at’ stanford.edu.