I’m considering authoring a book in the style of Stephen Covey. It will be all based on personal experience, particularly drawing on my financial woes of late. Here’s what I have so far.
- Chapter One: Prepare
- In anticipation of a fiscally trying semester, prepare during your visits home. Raid you parents’ pantry and fill an entire suitcase with non-perishable food: pasta, canned soup, canned chicken, cornbread mixes, applesauce, etc. Mentally prepare yourself to live on a diet of food that has been in storage longer than you have been alive.
- Chapter Two: Repair
- When hard times fall upon your wardrobe, don’t despair: repair. There is not a worn, broken, or tattered item of clothing you cannot fix. Hole in your nylons? Sew it shut. Tears in your work blouses? Cover them with a cardigan. The heel seam is coming out of your favorite (make that only) pair of black flats? Staple it together. When people comment on a holey piece of clothing, pretend you didn’t notice it when you got dressed this morning and say you will discard it when you get home (You won’t. Throw away a perfectly good shirt for one measly hole? No, thanks).
- Chapter Three: Scavenge
- Canned soup not cutting it for a packed lunch? Vending machines provide a cheap and easy source of food. Scour every purse, seat cushion, and car mat for loose change. Don’t feel ashamed when you pick up coins from the ground (Who is going to let a quarter stay on the sidewalk?). If your pride prevents you from stooping this low, pretend to stop and tie your shoe. Coin meals don’t necessarily have to come from vending machines. The good people at Cougar Express looooove it when you pay for your bagel in all nickels.
- Chapter Four: Save
- One of the biggest drains on a college budget is start-of-the-semester textbook buying. The solution? Don’t buy them. Let’s be honest: you’d only do about 40% of the reading anyway. And we all know that a favorite pastime of college professors is making students buy $200 books that they know they will only assign one chapter of reading out of. Wikipedia, Sparknotes, and libraries were created for poor college students. Make sure you attend lectures because most readings will be covered in class, anyway. There is no point in throwing away your life’s saving on book that will soon be the outdated edition you can’t sell back. You can’t spend $500 you don’t have on books. Don’t believe me? Take it from Steve Martin.
- Chapter Five: Sleep
- When the advice in chapters one and three fails to meet your dietary needs, try one of the cheapest and most satisfying meals there is: a nap. If you get home to discover that your fridge is empty and cupboards are bare, go to sleep. More sleep never hurt a college student. When you awake, you will discover that A: you are no longer hungry, or B: you’ll be going to bed in a few hours so there’s no point in eating now.
- Chapter Six: Lie
- One of the worst parts of being poor is having friends who are not. They want to eat out, see movies, and go to concerts. No one wants to be the party pooper who is too cheap to have fun. The best approach to this situation is lying. Your friends want to go see a movie? Discover you’ve magically developed a stomach ache. A group is going out for dinner? Remember that you have a big assignment due soon. That cool band is coming to town? You have to go to bed early that night because you work the next morning. Sure, you don’t get to see the movie or the concert, but hopefully you have enough money to pay this month’s rent.
- Chapter Seven: Sell
I think I am well on my way to being a published author. Other starving students out there: what do you do to prevent yourself from living in a box?