In the never-ending task of becoming an adult and living on my own, I seem to constantly be learning new life lessonsー and by that, I mean making mistakes and losing money. For every broken toilet and extra pair of earbuds that I seem to lose, it feels like coins are coming out of my bank account every time I breathe. With 19 credit hours and a handful of extracurriculars, time is money, yet I don’t have much of either. I find financial security by looking for the metaphorical coins in the couches: those cash-generating opportunities that just take a little digging to find. Here are some low-stress ways to pad your savings (or spendings, you do you girl).
1. Find money in your schedule.
While at home over the breaks, I work a seasonal retail job near my parents’ home. Shops like Kohl’s and Target will pay extra if you work the week before Christmas, so it’s an easy way to spend my free time without worrying about classes. I have a month-long break from school, so I save money by living at home in addition to generating savings. When I’m at school, I work at the campus gym, where I have 2-hour shifts and a painless commute. Although I still have major commitments to these jobs, they are convenient and help me save without serious stress.
2. Apply for everything.
I have received two free trips through my university’s honors college in my first three semesters of collegeー and by free, I mean food, flights, room, and board were all covered to two major U.S. cities! Though I did have to do research, write proposals, and fill out a LOT of paperwork, I never would have been able to travel as much unless I had looked for grants. It also taught me valuable skills about managing my finances and sticking to a budget. Going to a moderately big research university helped, but even the smaller liberal arts colleges I applied to had a considerable number of grants! Ask a professor or advisor you admire to see if they have any connections or opportunities that they could share with you, whether it be a free trip or an internship with a stipend.
3. Never stop looking for the big bucks.
The search for scholarships started during junior school of high school, but it doesn’t have to end there. I applied for scholarships this past summer through search engines like fastweb.com to cover the neverending costs of textbooks and online access codes. Some scholarships you can’t even apply to unless you’re currently enrolled in a degree program, so continue to seek out opportunities even if you think you are done with the application process.
4. Use what you’ve already got.
I make some cash on the side through random jobs that people list on bulletin boards or on social media. My research-based classes require heavy citation work, and I used those skills when one of my professors paid me to write her citations for her. Although these little opportunities are far more sparse than having a regular job, I’ve been able to take my editing skills online to the site Fiverr, where you could list any of your talents as services to earn some extra money. If you’re a graphic design junkie, be like my sister and create a RedBubble account to build up your portfolio and bank account. Your hobbies can become a source of happiness and income with just a little extra work.
Finances weigh heavy on most minds of college students. It’s a hard task to balance your education with your financial wellbeing, but look for the little ways to make your life majorly easier.
Katie is a West Coast-born, Midwest-bred sophomore at an SEC university majoring in International Studies and Italian. Her hobbies include cooking breakfast and binge-watching House Hunters.
Image via Unsplash