My name is Lia, and I am a poor college student. (everybody now, in unison: "Hello, Lia!") In order to make ends meet, I have become very adept at finding interesting, clever, and sometimes odd ways to make or save money. I am here to share my tips with you. Even if you are not a college student, my tips will help anyone looking for pocket change or extra cash. It's not a substitute for a real job, but it just might get you by - or, at least, help you to save up for some stuff you don't need but really want. I don't judge!
So who am I, really, and why do I know so much about this money thing? (AKA, why should you listen to me?) Let me introduce myself in more detail. I'm a senior at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN, a really awesome college town that I absolutely love. I'm an Apparel Merchandising Major with a Business Minor, which means I had to take all the gen-eds plus business classes like econ and marketing plus apparel-related classes like Retail Math and Global Trade. But I'm also in a Fashion Certificate program, which is smaller than a major but WAY bigger than a minor. It eats up all of my "free time" and is essentially an art major. What this means is that not only is all my time spent in the sewing lab creating and designing garments, but I also have to spend lots of money on supplies like fabric and buttons, as well as illustration supplies like markers and sketchbooks. Hence, I'm a super busy, broke college student.
Financially, my parents are nice enough to take care of all the big bills: tuition, insurance (car/health), cell phone, room/board. They also give me a small stipent each a month to cover everything else: food, household supplies for my apartment, textbooks/school supplies, entertainment, and clothes/beauty items. Money is ... tight. So I have a couple of extra money-makers: I do mystery shopping, I use paid-to sites online to bring in income, and I take every opportunity I can find to earn extra cash.
I don't have a part-time or full time job right now, though I do have savings left over from working 3 jobs this summer. Why don't I have a job if I'm so broke, you ask? Simple: I have free no time! Every second of my day is taken up with school - I'm usually on campus from 8am to 12am. When I'm not on campus, I'm sewing something, grocery shopping, doing a mystery shop job, or attempting to maintain some semblance of a social life. Since I have no time to devote to a real job, I cut every corner I can and bring in as much extra change as I can muster. Here are some of the techniques I use:
1. Online paid-to websites. These sites pay real money for you to do things like click advertiser links, take surveys to supply them with demographic/marketing research, shop at their sponsor's site, sign up for newsletters, etc. These take up a major chunk of my extra cash, and I'll be recommending and reviewing my favorite sites in the blog.
2. Freebies. I'm a total freebie junkie. A lot of companies with new products want to generate buzz and brand loyalty, so they literally will send you free products. If you can find them, you can get them sent to you! Some companies will also send you free-product coupons for writing them and complimenting them, as I found out one lucky month. I haven't paid for toothpaste, tampons, or cereal bars in months thanks to my insane freebie hunting. I'll be sharing my best freebie finds with you.
3. Coupons, Sales, and Mail-In Rebates. I always coupon-hunt before I purchase anything, and I've been known to wait for months for a sale to stock up on whatever I need. I'll be posting sales, coupons, and reporting on mail-in rebates (which sound sketchy, but are, in fact, legit as I found out!) in the blog.
4. Thrift/Secondhand Stores. I scour Salvation Army like nobody's business. I get everything from school supplies to purses to, obviously, clothing there for CHEAP. I'll share my best thrift store shopping tips as well as my favorite finds with you!
5. Selling stuff I don't use/need/want. I sell on everything from amazon to ebay to craigslist to Plato's Closet. If you have some extra stuff lying around, I'll be listing tips on what to sell, when to sell it and where it'll get you the most money.
6. On campus there are LOADS of things you never thought you could take advantage of: everything from free pens to free silverware and paper towels, paid studies, and free career counseling can be found on your college campus. I'll help you to take advantage of everything that you never thought your college could do for you!
7. Spending smart! When I do buy things, I have a lot of guidelines that I follow to make sure I don't end up wasting the little money I do have: smart shopping is a necessary tool for every broke student. I'll give you advice on shopping so that you never waste your money.
Every weekday will have one of those 7 themes. Check back in soon to start learning how to stretch your dollar! Until then, I'm off to the sewing lab!