How To Maximize Your “Fun Money”
In college, you have to handle your budget. Unfortunately for many of us, that can be difficult: you pay for the Internet one week and you find out you have no money for books, or socks, or suddenly you’re ten-thousand dollars deep in gambling debt. It happens to all of us (okay, maybe just me?)
Now, I don’t know much about how to budget properly. But I know something about how to budget fun money.
We all know how to maximize the bang our dollars take us in an evening at the basic level: pre-gaming, for example. But we’re all college students here, so let’s go further with some basic mathematics.
1. Cheap Isn’t Free
The biggest college fallacy in spending money occurs when people avoid expensive options in favor of cheap ones, because cheap sounds so appealing. Normally, this is sound business: cheap is a college student’s best friend. But sometimes more expensive options are overlooked unfairly.
For example: I was on the way home from a bar last night, and it was cold. I was with two friends deciding what to do. Do we take the bus, the cab, or walk home? It was too far and cold to walk, and we almost took the bus until we did some math: the bus cost two dollars a person and the cab would average out to about four. Rather than wait ten minutes for a slower bus, we splurged the two extra bucks for a cab and felt like weird, rich Princes.
Remember that next time you cancel on cool, more fancy plans: $15 for dinner is a little more expensive, but if you were going to spend $9 anyway, $15 isn’t as expensive as it sounds.
2. Use Your Beer Math
To calculate the value of your beer, don’t look at the price. Follow this easy process: take the alcohol content of the beer, multiply it by the size, and divide the price by it. That’s the penny-per-drunk outlook of your beer.
Many cheap beers are weaker (and worse tasting) and even a worse deal than hidden, strange options in your local liquor store. A $16 twelve-pack that averages a 7.1% APV is a better deal than that $20 thirty-rack of 3.4% light-beer and, of course, it tastes better.
3. Friends Are Cool (And Cheap)
Buying in bulk always makes things cheaper and more fun. You know this already. But the best part is that, if you think it through, your friends can reduce the prices even further.
I am that one guy who always gets drunk and buys pitchers or nachos for the table. Find your friend like that and roll out with him.
I have a DJ friend who spins and has guest and drink tickets. Find your friend like that and roll with him.
I have a friend with a car who doesn’t drink much since he plays sports. Have him drive you.
With your super-team of pals, you can find money flying around, so to speak. A penny saved is a penny earned, right? So hanging out is like a part-time job.
4. Money Ain’t Everything
I once spent an absolutely absurd weekend in Vegas on someone else’s tab. I don’t want to make anyone jealous but believe me when I say there was literally a champagne fight at one point.
It was absolutely insane. It was one of the best weekends of my life. The other best weekend involved cheap beer and pals, though.
So what am I saying? Money isn’t everything. The difference between expensive and cheap is much different than the difference between some and none. Don’t get good wine: get tons of “okay” wine. Because wine is more than okay: it’s awesome.
Go quantity over quality, because hey, maybe we’re too young to appreciate it. Save the caviar for the later years; for now, pizza and PBR will do just fine.