So you’ve worked your ass off at your unpaid internship over the summer and you’ve loaded up your meal plan dollars with your student loans. But something goes wrong, you spent too much money here and there. All of a sudden it’s the end of the semester and even a Ramen diet seem luxurious. You have to do the unthinkable. You have to ask your parents for money.

Assess the Situation

If you’re white, chances are your parents are already paying for your food, gas, bills, car insurance, booze expenses and cab rides back from downtown late at night. This post is not for you.

But if asking your parents for money is a big deal, you’ll need to create a strategy. If your parents are still paying off the house, they will disown you for asking them for extra cash. If there is a slight chance of milking some money out of them, you can’t make a wrong move.

Promise Enclosure

Many schools have switched to doing their meal plans in the form of dollars, rather than number of meals. If you attend one of these schools, you can give your parents the guarantee that their money supplement won’t go toward booze, drugs or movie tickets. Such a promise pulls at the heart strings of parents; they just can’t say no.

You’re probably better off too. You will be forced to avoid the habits that got you into the position you’re in now, unless you’re working on the Freshman 40.

Give Your Parents Your Bank Info

College is all about becoming an individual, right? Correct on most accounts. But if you’re in a financial pinch and need some money for food, having your parents know your account number can be a Godsend. Bonus points if your account is with the same bank as your parents; transfers will take place much more quickly.

Be Careful with the Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: College Edition

While the favorite Worst-Case Scenario Handbooks occasionally dole out life-saving information, the authors of the “College Edition” missed the mark on most accounts.

For example, the authors advise to “ask for more than you need.” If you are out of money and turning to your parents–face it–you need to live on a strict budget until the summer. Then you can go into waiter/waitress mode to bring your bank account back to safe levels.

But the book does make some solid points: write a formal email, follow up with a thank-you and use specific examples of how the money is going to help you in the long- and short-run.

Make Yourself Useful

It is possible to make money on your own, believe it or not. Craigslist is full of freelance gigs for some quick cash.

But sometimes the course load is too tough to squeeze in a freelance gig or two. If your parents are completely soulless, you’re in trouble. Switch in to Ramen mode, ask your closest friend for $100 and wait out the storm.

How do you deal with penny-pinching times? Do you have any personal strategies that have worked well? Let us know in some comments!