Being A Broke College Kid

By Kristian Buckner | Sep 23, 2013

What does it mean to be a college student in 2013?

It means, you're broke. That's what it means.


I'm a freshman this year at UNCA, so far I'm loving it. The experience is great and the school has so much to offer. But I'm finding that my pockets are increasingly more barren than ever before. It's the college kid syndrome, with the stress of studies and everything else, money seems to be the top hard-hitting problem.

Why is it? It's not lack of work, because I have one, I am about to have two. If it's not that, then what is it? Other than the insane prices of gas, I blame it on inflation. Everything is so expensive, and for someone making minimum wage, which may I remind you is only $7.25, it's impossible to keep up! I've got bills to pay, gas to buy, clothes and food, I can't afford all that on minimum wage.

At this point, because of inflation, minimum wage should be somewhere between 10 and 11 dollars an hour. So instead of making $200 or less every two weeks, I could be making nearly twice that.

I know it's more than just college kids like me that are feeling the pain of stretching a dollar in a expensive society like ours. Today, the rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer. When will it stop? At this stage in my life I'm starting to want the freedom to be out on my own, but I can barely afford gas nevertheless a $500 rent every month. However, if I was getting paid somewhere between 10 and 11 it would be a different story. For kids without degrees yet, needing part time work, being a full time student, minimum wage is all that's out there.

What happens when wallets are affected and hours are cut? That means being late for bills. That means running the tank on empty. Or searching your room for stuff you can sell just so that you can have a little bit of extra cash. Hungry and forgot to pack something? Too bad, no money to spare. And when there is a little bit to spare, it's not like healthy food runs cheap. (Hey, I found the freshman 15!) Junk food and fast food are the only real resort for broke college kids.

So let's put it all on the table, I get paid roughly 200-150 every two weeks, right? (I don't get many hours.) I have to buy gas every 6 days for 45 dollars. I usually have to buy like $20 worth of food a week. That's already $130 right there. I had to pay my copay for a doctor last week that was 35, and I have to pay for insurance, which isn't all that much really. I also have to pay my phone bill which is 50 dollars every month. And then there's always little things here and there, and that leaves me with very little cash to work with. (All of which I'm trying to save.) So now, I am having to get a second job as well. So I will be a full time student, working two part time jobs, driving between Canton and Asheville every single day. Can anyone relate yet?

(Thankfully my problems don't compare to others, I don't have many car troubles, I don't have children to take care of and pay for, and again, I don't have rent to pay. So, I will admit that I am very lucky, it could be worse for me.)

But, I'm still trying to figure out ways to bust the empty pocket blues. Selling clothes and buying used seems to be working efficiently. Always looking for a sale, and don't buy anything that you don't need. So here's my question to you, what is your way to beat the blues? Do you coupon? Do side jobs? Sell you kidneys? (Just kidding...) But really, what do you do? A broke college kid can use all the help she can get.