A Broke Student’s Guide

10 tips on penny pinching this semester

If you're one of those students who live in a fancy high-rise and drive an Audi RS4, then this listicle is not for you. But if you're digging deep to afford tuition, books and all those extra fees that get tacked on these days, you then you might find this penny-pinching guide vital to surviving the upcoming semester—or at least making sure you have enough bucks to grab a few beers on the weekend.

1. Our simplest and most respectable tip: Get a job, preferably at a restaurant. It's not hard to land a gig as a dishwasher at a restaurant. Yes, dishwashing will probably be the worst job you'll ever have, but most places will give you their leftover food—and if they don't, you can probably smuggle some out anyhow. Keep in mind not everyone is mentally prepared to be a dishwasher; those who experience dishpan madness are never the same again.

2. Coffee is a vital part of college life. But who can afford those $5 mocha lattes at the latest trendy café? The most cost effective way to get coffee on the UA campus is to grab a cup of joe on Monday at CC's Coffee at the Student Union's southwest corner. CC's generously keeps coffee out on the counter for patrons to fill up their own cup. I have yet to questioned about returning to the coffee shop on subsequent days to fill up the same cup. After about a week, your coffee cup will start to look pretty ratty, so you'll need to buy a new one, but you can easily get 10 to 15 free cups of coffee throughout the week. Remember to walk with purpose and act like you belong. If you get caught, play dumb.

3. The restaurant Pangea, also in the Union's southwest corner, offers buffet-style dining. Often after the restaurant closes, there are still people inside finishing up their meals, but the door is locked and the register is unoccupied. Sit and wait at the tables across from the entrance to Pangea. Once the door is locked and the register is vacated, wait for someone to leave. Grab the door behind them and boldly walk in. Then grab a plate and enjoy the buffet. Eat quickly, as you may be on the wrong side of the law and the people working there just want to go home. If you get caught, make up a sob story about how hungry you are and how you meant to pay but the register was closed. Most of the people working there are students who don't want to get you in trouble. Worst comes to worst, you may actually have to pay for your meal.

4. If you can't seem to get behind Robin Hood ethos laid out above, grab some canned goods at the UA Campus Pantry, located in the Student Union Memorial Center to the left of the Information Desk and down the stairs. For details on their distribution dates, check their website or Facebook page.

5. Going out on the weekends is a huge temptation for college students. Here's how you can do it and have plenty of drinks for less than $15. Start your night at Fourth Avenue's Sky Bar, where you'll find $1 well drinks every night from 10-10:15 p.m. Depending on how you pace yourself, you can polish off between two and five drinks in this 15-minute window. After Sky Bar, get to the Buffet and purchase a drink at their happy minute at 11 p.m. You'll get a token to get the same drink for a dollar. The most cost-effective way to do this is to split a pitcher of beer with your friends, and then get a second pitcher for a dollar. Once you've finished your beer, you can head back to Sky Bar at midnight, when they offer their second 15-minute dollar drink special. Cheers!

6. Like most universities nowadays, the UA has a free and for sale page, as well as a book exchange page on Facebook. If you like these pages, you will have access to a network of people who sell—and sometimes even give away—a wide range of things that a broke student might find useful.

7. When stretching your dollars, receipt surveys and coupons are your friends. When you go to the grocery store, pick up the weekly ad and look for the best deals. And take advantage of receipt surveys. For example, Jack in the Box, which just so happens to be located at Park and Speedway, puts a survey on its receipt that gives you two free tacos with your next purchase. Tacos at Jack in the Box are a dollar and change. So, if you buy two tacos and fill out your receipt survey, then the next time you go to Jack in the Box you get four tacos for the price of two. Warning: Do it often enough and you'll never want to eat those poor excuses for tacos ever again, but if you're broke, then six tacos for two dollars and some change can feed you for a whole day.

8. Make friends with the people who work at the campus markets (or if you're desperate, get a job at one). First, you can get free fountain drinks (unless a manager is watching, I've had no shortage of free fountain drinks from friends who work behind the counters of the on campus markets). Secondly, the UA markets have a policy that pulls their Red and Blue market food—salads, sandwiches, and sometimes terrible sushi—from the shelves a fairly long time before the food actually goes bad. Once its off the shelf, it's often offered to the workers for free, though I'd recommend you stay away from the sushi.

9. A lot of local grocery stores offer discounts to students. The best deal is at Albertsons, because it's the most consistent. Every Saturday, you can get 10 percent off your total purchase by showing student ID. Fry's has in the past offered similar deals on UA football game days, but who knows whether these deals will return this football season?

10. If you can't seem to find a job and you're hurting for money, you could sell your blood. CSL Plasma, will give you about $40 per donation of blood plasma. You are allowed to donate twice a week. If you're well hydrated, it takes less time for you to donate and they pay you more. The hour or two taken up by donating can serve as some good study time.

Editor's Note: The information about UA Campus Pantry has been updated since the original publication of this article.