Ballin' on a budget

We've all been there. We try to "live it large" but neglect to ensure that we have the funds. As a college student, I get it. Trying to keep it real when your funds are unreal can be pretty daunting, especially when you are just starting out on supporting yourself. Everything adds up in terms of price, but knowing where to shop is the first step.
I have taken the liberty of outlining some basic ways for the average college student to save money but still stay supplied with the essentials.

Yes, we have to bathe. Firstly it's a vital part in maintaining our overall health and can prevent a trip to the doctor. But lets look at the essentials. Like soap. Instead of buying the liquid soap that runs out quickly, try using bars. They're cheaper and they last longer. A box of six soap bars costs from $2-$4, whereas liquid body wash can run $4.50-$6. If you're running low and you're on a super budget, remember this acronym when bathing -- PTNBFF (Pits, Tits, Naughty Bits, Feet, and Face).

The biggest expense for me is toilet paper. Whether you're a folder or a wadder, that stuff goes fast. The price of name-brand toilet paper can range from $5-$15 depending on how much you buy. My advice is simple -- stock up. I have two very large cupboards dedicated to TP. The more you have on reserve, the better.

The third and most important necessity is a toothbrush and toothpaste. A three-pack of toothpaste costs about $4 and a four-pack of tooth brushes run about $3-$4.

For every college student this is a struggle, especially if you're not on the campus meal plan, which is bogus anyway. The best thing you can do is cook for yourself. You'll be a little rusty at first, but after a while you'll get the hang of it.

Some essential food items that can go a long way are rice, beans, noodles and fruit. A 20-pound bag of rice costs around $8, and one cup of rice can serve at least two people. Add in some beans, which cost about $2 for four cans, and you're a freakin' college chef. Noodles, which run $2-$3 a bag are a great evening snack. Lastly, you need fruit, which is chock full of vitamins. A pound of apples can cost you a mere $1.25. I recommend the Rainier Honey Crisps.

Learn to sew. The last thing you want is to lose a button or tear your jeans in the no-no zone. Learning how to sew by hand is a quick and easy skill to have when living on your own.

All right, I pride myself on cleanliness because germs are the little terrorists that get one sick. The generic house-cleaning soap AJAXX sells for roughly $1.89 per can. A pack of sponges runs around the same as the AJAXX. Set aside a weekend and scrub the doorknobs, sinks, showers, floors and toilet.

Dusting is another important little skill. Dust alone can carry various things that can cause health problems down the road. Black mold and pollen are the primary ones. Dust rags are fairly cheap at Wal-Mart -- about $2 a pack.

Dishes -- the task nobody wants to do! Listen, a small bottle of that high-speed dish soap costs about $4 at Wal-Mart. All you need is a drop. Dish soap is also really good for cleaning counter surfaces, wall trimming, kitchen appliances and stains on carpet and clothing.

So there you have it. Some easy ways to survive with the basic necessities. Food, soap, skills, cleanlinessÖand TP. Pretty soon you'll be getting creative yourself. Just don't use coffee filters as toilet paper. That's not creative. That's painful.

Photo illustration by Pam Black

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