Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Never Pay for Movie Rentals Again

You heard me! Gone are the days of Blockbuster and $4 movie rentals (though I admit I do miss browsing video stores). You can even consider Redbox fees to be history, because with these few tips you can definitely find movies at no cost!

Beleive it or not, libraries aren't just for taking out books. They're now offering CD's, workout videos, and even DVD's! The best part is that they're totally free, and you usually get to borrow them for a week or two, which is SO much better than paying a 1-day late charge. I've been able to rent out Mean Girls, The DaVinci code, and even the Godfather Trilogy from my library, so I'd definitely recommend visiting yours soon! Try to come visit on Monday because that's usually when people have returned their rentals from the weekend.

1. Red BoxEvery now and then, Redbox sends out codes that let you rent a movie for free. But because of social media, many people have access to codes that can be used anytime you visit. The rule is 1 code/credit card (which you still need to swipe incase of late charges), but if you have more than one card, then you can use the same code for each of them!
So three cards + one code = 3 free rentals.It's all about working with the system.
Here are some great sites that you can use to look up codes:
If you sign up for their program, they'll send you weekly rental codes!
Current and updated list of valid codes, check often!  Same as above, but some codes might show up at one and not the other, so I'd recommend getting on the list of both!

Just remember to return it my 9pm the next day or you'll end up paying the $1.20 fee!

2. YouTube

To rival popular movie companies like Netflix, YouTube launched their own movie program that let's you watch full length movies. The prices range from a dollar to $4 (the highest I've seen so far), but my favorite section is the 'Free Movies'. And these aren't just some crappy clips - I'm talking FREE, FULL LENGTH  MOVIES. They've got Big Daddy, Pineapple Express, as well as a few others that are worth checking out!

3. Your Local Library

Libraries aren't just for studying anymore (given that you've stepped into one lately..) Many now let you 'rent' CD's, workout videos, language learning programs, and even DVD's! Sometimes the selection isn't impressive, but I've been able to find Mean Girls, The Godfather Trilogy, as well as a few other popular titles, so it's all a matter of timing. I'd recommend going on Mondays and Tuesdays, which is when people have returned their movie rentals from the weekend. On top of being absolutely free, the other benefit is that you usually get to keep then for a week or two, which gives you plenty of time to rehearse those Mean Girls quotes.

Monday, July 23, 2012

5 Dorm Deals for Under $10

A big part of being a broke college student is, well, being broke.
But that doesn't mean you have to miss out on some great dorm gear, especially if it's at a pretty good price!
I've rounded up 5 items that'll help you get through the year, and the best part is that they're all under $10!

1. Kikkerland USB Hubman - $9.99
A great accessory for your laptop,  the USB Hubman provides extra USB ports for in your room or on the go. That allows you to plug in your hardrive, iPod, phone, and others at the same time, saving both time and space. Plus, he's just darn cute.

2. 72 Pocket Hanging Organizer - $8.45 + shipping
This item is a great way to organize, and I'd definitely recommend investing in one. It can store all your earrings, bracelets, and necklaces in a handy organizer that fits in perfectly to your closet. And considering most dorms (especially at VT) are smaller than jail cells, that's even more of a reason to buy.

3. Set of 10 Microwave Safe Containers - $5.99
Great for leftovers or just storage. The best part is that it's microwave safe, so hopefully you won't be starting any fires.

4. Two Desktop Cellphone Holders - $4.99
A great way to keep your phone safe!
I also want to metion that I lose my phone almost everday - I swear I'd  be JUST using it - so having these on my desk gives me a secure place to keep them. It also comes in a 2 pack, which could make for a great welcome/housewarming present for your room mate!

5. Table Top Ironing Board - $7.59
You'll definitely have dates, interviews, or both at one point in college, and you NEVER want to show up with a wrinkled shirt. A table top ironing board will get you looking slick in no time, and using almost no space.
Table not included.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Pssckk... Ashley to BSG readers...psscckk

Not sure how well you heard it over the internet, but that was suppose to be a walkie-talkie noise.

My name is Ashley Baboota, and after an extensive interview that consisted of exactly three emails, a treasure hunt through my computer files, and a few weeks of waiting to see where on earth Lia was, I am finally able to say that I'll be one of your new BSG bloggers!

I'll be attending Virginia Tech in the fall [go Hokies!], but hopefully my tips will apply to broke college students all around America...except you Cavaliers out there.

Just kidding.

I am personally interested in freebies, DIY projects, and traveling so definitely expect tips relating to those!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Freebies of the week 7/7/12! Tea, music, condoms, and more!

Hey all! My apologies for the break in updates. I just graduated from college and moved across the country (to San Francisco!), so I've been all kinds of busy and away from the computer. While I'm not technically a broke student guide anymore, I'm going to continue updating - but I'm really searching for Broke Student Guides to represent their universities! If you're pro at being frugal, like to write and need something awesome to put on your resume, you definitely want to check this out. Now, back to your regularly scheduled freebies!

FREE Sample Bodycology Wild Poppy Nourishing Body Cream Click Here

FREE Starbucks K-Cup Packs Click Here

FREE Tea at McAllister's Deli on July 26!

FREE Shout Color Catcher Cli

FREE 60-Day Trial Membership to BJ's (a wholesale retailer like Costco) Click Here
FREE One-Year Membership to Ebony Click Here

FREE Sample of Heinz Squeeze-N-Stir Soup Click Here

FREE Gillette Venus Razor (UK only) Click Here

FREE Vitanity drink mix sample. Choose your own flavors and health benefits! Click Here

FREE 10 song summer playlist download. Artists include The Band Perry and Feist. Offer is available on iTunes through 8/31/12. Click Here

FREE 60-minute workout playlist downloads from Secret. There are 3 available: low intensity, moderate intensity and high intensity. Click Here

FREE Vans 2012 Warped Tour 34-song playlist download! Click Here

FREE Sample Packets of Mrs. Dash Original Blend seasoning. Click Here

FREE Lipton Mango Pineapple Iced Green Tea Sample. Click Here

FREE Garnier Fructis Fall Fight Shampoo & Conditioner sample! Click Here

FREE Sebamed Facial Wash Sample.
Click Here

FREE sample of Find Your Bliss Shower Gel and Body Butter. Click Here

FREE SKYN condom sample. Click Here

FREE Gas-X Thin Strips Sample.
Click Here

FREE sample of L’Oreal EverPure Shampoo & Conditioner. Click Here

FREE sample of BiPro Whey Protein. Click Here

FREE Sample of VPlesnish Vitamin Boost.
Click Here (Orange box in the upper righthand corner!)

My favorite paid-to site is Swagbucks. I earn at least $25 in Amazon Gift cards each and every month! Read more about Swagbucks in this entry. Want to know about new freebies, samples, deals and money-saving as soon as they happen? Follow The Broke Student's Guide on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Packing Tips & Tricks: Save Money and Time on your Move

The end of the semester is here! No more finals, no more books, no more all nighters .... at least, for a few months maybe. For a lot of us, that means it's time for the dreaded move. Whether you're just packing up your dorm room and it fits into the back of your car (lucky) or you're packing up your entire life and moving it across the country (that's me at the moment) packing can be a daunting, not to mention expensive, task. These tips will help you learn how to save money AND time on your move!

  •  Before you pack, get rid of EVERYTHING you don't need. For clothing, if you haven't worn it in over a year, donate it to Goodwill (just drop it off - it's super easy.) If it's cute and in good condition,  try Plato's Closet - they'll also take shoes, bathing suits, jewelry, DVDs, home furnishings, and even some bath stuff. For random junk, add it to your Goodwill pile. If it's too big to move or you'd rather give it away to someone, post it on your local Freecycle or your local Craigslist "Free" section. As you're packing, put everything you don't want or no longer use in a pile, and then either donate it to Goodwill or post it on Freecycle for immediate pick up. Of course, if it's trash, throw it away!
  • Paper is heavy - limit the amount you pack. We've all had times where we save a semester's worth of notes "just in case." Maybe we didn't want to throw away the ridiculous amount of notes we'd slaved over, or maybe we thought we might look back on them later. Well, no one ever looks back at their notes from college classes. Recycle your notes. Keep your textbook if it might be useful for a future class or your career, or better yet, sell that too (try Amazon or your local campus bookstore buy-pack program). Magazines are the worst of all - they are SO heavy and somehow I always seem to accumulate so many of them! Get rid of magazines by donating them to the campus fitness center, a doctor's office, a school or daycare center (for crafts!), the local library, putting them outside your door with a sign marked FREE! TAKE SOME! or just list them on Freecycle for pickup. Or, of course, recycle them!
  • Don't pack food unless it can honestly be used after the move. Try to limit your grocery shopping to the bare minimum in the month before your move, and when you're packing, only include pantry items that will be useful after the move, particularly if your stuff will be in storage or you'll be eating someone else's groceries all summer long. Canned items are good contenders for packing, but they're super heavy, so eat those up if you can! Also consider the chance that the food may attract bugs, so pack it in heavy duty plastic and seal it well.
  • Have plenty of packing supplies on hand. You'll need boxes, tape, scissors, a permanent marker, garbage bags, and something to pad items out, such as bubble wrap, empty shopping bags, towels and linens, or other fabric. You can certainly pay money to get boxes, but I prefer to ask at a grocery store or even at a dorm or cafeteria if I can have some of their boxes. Check if there's a cardboard recycling center on campus or nearby to score even more boxes! At Indiana University, there is a cardboard recycling bin behind Collins LLC.
Look how much FUN they're having! Yay moving!
  • Pack like items together and label the boxes. Hopefully the items will be near one another to make that easier, but if not, gather them all into the same box - such as "Kitchen," "Shoes," "Desk/Office," "Crafts," "School Supplies" and so on. It'll save you time when you unpack and make your life easier. Label the boxes with a permanent marker after you're done.
  • Play Tetris with your stuff, but fill the crevices and gaps with socks. Try to fit things together in boxes as best as you can - big stuff on bottom, small stuff inside of big stuff and everything sort of Tetrised together. But of course your stuff isn't perfectly shaped to fit together, so fill in the gaps between items with socks. Doesn't have to be socks - dish towels, underwear, or anything else small and made of fabric will work well too. This will help pad everything out so that it doesn't shift, move and potentially break during the moving process. Plus, you won't have to pack your socks later! 
  • Keep a box or suitcase to the side with stuff you'll need immediately. Some clothes, toiletries, and whatever else you might find yourself living off of for a little while will be very useful after you get moved and all of your stuff is neatly packed away. 
  • Wrap all fragile items in paper, bubble wrap, shopping bags or fabric. Moving can be rough on fragile items such as plates or framed pictures, so wrap them well before putting them into a box. Use newsprint or other paper, bubble wrap, plastic grocery bags or fabric such as towels or even clothes to wrap and protect each fragile item before placing it into a box.
  • Choose the most cost efficient moving solution. If you can carry all of your stuff to your car, fit it in your car and drive it yourself, that's going to be your best bet. But for the rest of us, you might want to look into renting a truck or van (or having a parent rent it for you), or even a U-Haul. If you can't carry the boxes yourself, post on your campus classifieds or possibly Craigslist to find someone willing to help you move for pay - $20 an hour or a $100 flat fee should be sufficient. Or ask your strongest friends to help you out. Hiring professional movers is the easiest way to move, but the most costly. If you hire professional movers, remember that they are being paid by the hour, so make sure you're fully packed BEFORE they arrive, and everything is ready to go to be as quick and efficient as possible and save you money. 

Did I miss something? Do you have a foolproof packing tip I should know about? Post it in the comments!

Want to know about new freebies, samples, deals and money-saving as soon as they happen? Follow The Broke Student's Guide on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Broke Student Kitchen: Tuna Burgers, Mac & Cheese, Slow Cookers

This week on Broke Student Kitchen, we will discover the amazing world of tuna burgers, mac & cheese, and slow cookers. That last one isn't a recipe, technically, but it's pretty awesome and involves food, so just go with it.  Anyway: first up, Tuna Burgers!

Tuna Burgers
Ever had a crab cake? This is like that, except mad cheap and super easy to make! These burgers are flaky and delicious, and DON'T taste like a tuna fish sandwich. (Which was weird, since the ingredients are super similar, but they just don't.)  Here's what you'll need to make 3 little burger patties or 2 medium patties (or one GIANT patty). Note: the prices are based on average prices I've seen in the past month or so.

1 can tuna: $0.80
1 egg: $0.10
3 tablespoons bread crumbs*: $0.25
1 tablespooon Mayonnaise or plain yogurt: $0.10
Spices: mustard, salt/pepper, paprika, parsley, dill, lemon, garlic, onion. Choose a few or use them all! $.25

Total estimated cost: $1.50

Drain your tuna and add it to a bowl. Mix in egg, bread crumbs, mayo, and spices. Heat your skillet (or George Foreman or whatever) to medium. Use some nonstick spray. Form your tuna mixture into patties (or just get a big spoonful and splat it on the skillet and smush it out some, close enough). Cook until lightly browned on one side, then turn patties over. When the other side is browned (about 5 minutes or so) they're done! Eat them plain or dress them up like you would eat a burger. They're yummy with ketchup or mustard, or make some sort of fancy sauce by mixing mayo with cajun spices or something crazy like that.  Yum!

Mac & Cheese (The Healthy Way)
Every college student loves Mac & Cheese. Probably because it comes in a box and all you have to do is add water, right? Well, making baked mac & cheese REALLY doesn't take a heck of a lot more effort than that, and this version is SO much healthier. Plus, it tastes a lot better - none of that artificial cheez-whiz taste. Yuck.  Here's what you'll need and how to do it:

1 Box Macaroni: $1.00
1 cup (or more) Shredded Cheddar Cheese: $1.00
1 cup plain yogurt (I used Greek): $0.60
1 cup frozen spinach: $0.35
2 eggs: $0.20
Spices: Salt, pepper, Italian Seasoning, onion, garlic, paprika, oregano, onion. Use some or all! $.10
OPTIONAL: 1/4 cup Ground Beef $1.00, veggies, 3 Tablespoons breadcrumbs*: $0.25 (I used cereal)

Total Estimated Cost (with meat): $4.50 
Servings: at least 4

Preheat your oven to 350.

1. Cook your pasta al dente: boil water, add a tiny bit of olive oil and some salt, add pasta, turn heat down, remove when pasta is tender.

2. Drain pasta and add frozen spinach. This way thee spinach will dethaw when mixed with the pasta and get distributed better.

3. Cook meat (if you're using meat): heat skillet to medium. Add crumbled up pieces of meat. Cook until browned. (Pro tip: do this while the pasta is cooking).

4. Add pasta to a large baking dish, casserole-sized. I got my aluminum baking tins from the Dollar Tree, 2/$1.

5. Mix together yogurt, cheese, egg, and spices. This is the "cheese sauce" for your pasta. The more yogurt and cheese you use, the more gooey and cheesy the pasta will be!

6. Add cheese sauce, meat, and any veggies you have available to your baking dish. I had some cherry tomatoes as you can see. (They freeze well! I stock up when they're on sale and keep them in the freezer to throw into things like this.) Mix everything around so it's distributed evenly.

7.  Add a layer of cheese and a layer of bread crumbs, to give it that yummy crust on top.

 8. Pop your casserole dish in the oven (you preheated it at 350, right?) And bake it for 20 minutes or until cheese on top is bubbly and beginning to brown.

9. Dig in and enjoy your healthy/cheap mac & cheese!! It should sort of look like this:

* For breadcrumbs, you can use anything crumby that you have on hand, like bottom-of-the-bag chip leftovers, smushed pretzel pieces, cereal crumbs, croutons, or just tear up some stale bread. I have a stale loaf in my fridge that is rock hard but gets used for bread crumbs all the time! Or, of course, you can buy some.

Slow Cookers

So I got a slow cooker for Christmas, and I'm obsessed with it. Cooking with a slow cooker is so simple that simple doesn't even cover it. You literally just throw some stuff in there, turn it on, go to class and come back 4-8 hours later to dinner. It's AWESOME. Cooking food slowly makes it SUPER tender, so meat just falls off the bone and veggies are perfectly soft. You don't even need recipes to cook in a slow cooker. Here is something I did last week: put some chicken in slow cooker. Add a couple spices on top. Turn on high. Wait 4 hours. Done. THAT'S IT.

 Basically you just throw in everything you have on hand and wait. You can make soups or stews, cook chicken and/or veggies, even pasta (though I haven't tried it yet) and other grains without having to prep anything in advance. Just throw it in and go!! Sound good? It gets better - you can pick up a slow cooker for less than $20! I found a few that are right around the $10 range. If you find yourself never having the time to prepare a cheap, healthy home cooked meal, get yourself a slow cooker. It's a huge time saver and so, so simple to use.

Coming up next time on Broke Student Kitchen: meatballs and burgers on the cheap.

My favorite paid-to site is Swagbucks. I earn at least $25 in Amazon Gift cards each and every month! Read more about Swagbucks in this entry.

Want to know about new freebies, samples, deals and money-saving as soon as they happen? Follow The Broke Student's Guide on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Freebies of the week 4/11! FREE soda, tea, toothpaste, lotion, Cinnabon bites, and more!

Get 2 FREE Classic Cinnabon Bites on April 17 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at participating locations as part of Cinnabon’s Tax Day Bites promotion. No coupon necessary.

FREE sample of Zevia All Natural Soda! Click Here

FREE Sample of Lipton Mango Pineapple Tea & Honey. Click Here

FREE Tom's of Maine Strawberry kid's toothpaste sample! Click Here

FREE sample of Carefree Acti-Fresh Pantiliners!  Click Here

FREE 15-song Coachella All-Stars playlist! Click Here to download.

FREE Cutex Nail Polish Remover pad! Click Here

FREE sample of UriFemme Feminine Hygiene! Click Here 

FREE Eucerin Itch Relief sample. "Like" the Facebook Page and watch the short video.

FREE Prilosec OTC sample! Select "2-3 days per week" to quality. Click Here

FREE Sample subscription to Men's Fitness magazine! You'll have to fill out some information, take a short survey and click "continue" a couple times, but it does go through. Click Here 

FREE Satchet of Sebamed Liquid Face & Body Wash for sensitive skin. Like” the Facebook page 

FREE Sample of REBOOTizer Detox Shaker Drink. Like” the Facebook page 

FREE Kindle eBook: 23 Delicious and Nutritious Vegetarian Lunch Recipes. Click Here

FREE Travel Guides & Brochures to destinations in every state, mailed straight to your door. Click Here

FREE sample of TRESemme Split Remedy Shampoo & Conditioner! Watch a quick video and take a 1-question quiz. Click Here

FREE Kiehl's Starter Kit! Kiehl's is running a Recycle and Be Rewarded promotion from April 18 through April 30.Just bring in any empty cosmetics container and they will reward you with a free Kiehl's Starter Kit in an environmentally friendly pouch. If you b ring in up to 10 empties, it entitles you to a free full-sized product up to a $25.00 value! This offer is valid at free-standing Kiehl's stores only. Click Here for more information

My favorite paid-to site is Swagbucks. I earn at least $25 in Amazon Gift cards each and every month! Read more about Swagbucks in this entry.

Want to know about new freebies, samples, deals and money-saving as soon as they happen? Follow The Broke Student's Guide on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Save Gas, Save Money: 10 Tips for Getting More Miles Per Gallon

So by now you've probably noticed the ridiculously insane prices of gas. There's no way around it for many of us who have to drive to class every day during the week, not to mention running errands, driving to work, driving to friends' houses - there's no way around it, gas is a huge expense for most of us! But take heart, there are was to conserve your gas, which means filling up less often and saving more money! To learn how, read on.

 1. Lay off the gas pedal! Every time you touch your gas pedal to accelerate, you're using gas - meaning you're spending money. The less you touch that pedal, the more you save! So if you see a stop light up ahead, take your foot off the gas. If you're rolling down a hill, take your foot off the gas. If you're in traffic and the car in front of you moved forward, don't touch that gas pedal - just let your car roll! The less you accelerate (and the less you have to brake, which means you wasted gas) the more you save. Practice letting your car coast as you go down a hill, come to a stop sign or red light and during traffic rather than hitting the pedal and watch the savings add up. And avoid road rage - speeding, rapid acceleration and rapid braking can lower gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and 5 percent while driving in the city. 

2. Clean out your car. If you needed a good reason to clean it out, this is it - carrying around extra stuff in your means your car has to work harder and use more gas, especially if your extra stuff is heavy. If you're guilty of having a full trunk or carrying around boxes of stuff that you don't really need, now's the time to move it all inside! You can save up to 9 gallons of gasoline per year – almost $40 – by removing an extra 100 pounds of unneeded items from the trunk.

 3. Give your car a checkup. When was the last time your car got checked over? Do you need an oil change? Are your brakes OK? Do your tires need air? ... No idea? You could save gas by getting a tune-up, and it's FREE to get a checkup at most car places (Midas will give you a FREE break check and check the rest of your car for FREE too! It takes about an hour as you wait) or at your dealership. Make sure your car is in tip-top condition so you are getting the maximum miles per gallon.

 4. Crack a window. Operating the air conditioner on "Max" can reduce mpg by 5 – 25% compared to not using it. Open up the window and enjoy the spring breeze instead! Note: this is gas efficient at low speeds, but not efficient at high speeds, so instead, try to keep your air conditioner on a lower setting if you're on the highway.

 5. Combine trips and plan ahead. Ever found yourself driving to the same place twice in one day? Well, that's a waste of gas if you can combine those two trips into one! Plan your errands on your way to or from work or school, combine your errands into one trip and plan the most efficient route. If your errands can wait, make one day your "Errand day" and get everything done all at once so you don't have to make multiple trips. The less you drive, the more gas you save!

 6. Carpool. Is there anyone who can chip in for gas for a ride to class each day? Maybe your roommate needs to go to the grocery store and you guys can split the cost of gas. Or maybe you can bum a ride to a party with a friend. However you do it, carpooling saves money. If you're taking a road trip or going home on the weekend, post about it in your school's classifieds or see if there's a ride-share section online or in the paper (or, try Craigslist). The more people you ride with (and divide up the gas with), the cheaper your trip is! 

7. Don't Speed. Unless you're on the highway, don't go over 60 mpg: each five miles per hour over 60 mph is like paying an additional 24 cents per gallon for gas. And on the highway, make sure you're driving at the speed limit - speeding tickets will cost you around $200, and that's NOT worth getting there 5 minutes faster!

 8. Don't idle your car. It's bad for your wallet and it's bad for the environment. If you're sitting in your car, crack a window and turn it off, whether your parked or just waiting for a train to pass.

This is one way to save gas money, but I don't recommend it.
 9. Consider traffic conditions. If you find yourself driving home in rush-hour traffic every day, spend some time reading a book or enjoy a coffee in the sunshine before you drive home to avoid traffic. Stop-and-go traffic is incredibly gas inefficient, involves a lot of idling, causes stress and takes forever. Avoid it as much as you can, even if it means waking up a few minutes earlier.

 10. Use other means of transportation. Sure, it might not be as fast, but taking the bus or walking saves you a LOT of gas! Most campuses have free bus service available for students, and you can usually walk just about everywhere on campus. If you've ever driven 5 minutes to class just because you didn't feel like walking, definitely reconsider: walking is healthy, it's nice and warm outside, and you'll be saving money. At the very least, take the bus! Heck, you have to pay for it anyway in your tuition, might as well use it.

 When you do need to fill up, download the GasBuddy app for your smart phone to find out where the cheapeast gas is near you, or use the GasBuddy website! Just don't go way out of your way to save a couple of cents - that would be a waste of gas.

 Other ways to save on gas:

  • Pay with cash. Some gas stations give a discount for this.
  • Use the Kroger Fuel Rewards program to save on gas at Kroger. Some people like to buy a $50 gas gift card just to get the $.10/gallon discount, and then use it to pay for the gas! How's that for clever? 
  • Do some mystery shops at gas stations! Or, plan a mystery shop on a trip or errand to help pay for your gas. Learn more about mystery shopping here. 
 You can read some more gas-saving tips in this article and also in this one.

Want to know about new freebies, samples, deals and money-saving as soon as they happen? Follow The Broke Student's Guide on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

My favorite paid-to site is Swagbucks. I earn at least $25 in Amazon Gift cards each and every month! Read more about Swagbucks in this entry. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Save Money on Spring Break: Tips and Tricks for College Students

Ah, Spring Break. That one glorious week in March where all bets are off - the one week we can relax and leave midterms and upcoming finals behind us as we pile into a car and drive off into the sunset to our magical vacation in paradise.  At least, that's the idea. I'm sure many of us are still scrambling around trying to figure out what the plans are for Spring Break, cursing our professors for assigning projects that are due the Monday after Spring Break ends (WHY, professors? I mean really!) and trying to figure out how to fit several 24-packs of Natty Light  sleeping bags and suitcases into one tiny car, and of course, how to pay for the whole thing. Well, I'm here to help - with the money aspect, at least! Here are some tried and true tips for saving money on Spring Break! Find all the supplies you might need with coupons for for your spring break!

1. Drive, Don't Fly: Although gas is at an all-time high, driving to Spring Break is a better bet than flying. This is because you can fit more people into a car, which means the gas is split several ways, making the trip much cheaper. A 1700 mile round trip costs as much as one plane ticket (about $180-$200, roughly) but splitting it up even once or twice significantly slashes that cost! So find a friend with a car that gets decent gas mileage (you'll want at least 30 mpg on the highway!)  and offer to share the cost of gas.

2. Fill Up for Cheap: We've all heard those road trip horror stories, where it's 3am, you're driving through corn fields in the middle of nowhere, the tank is on empty. Suddenly, like the gates of heaven, the neon lights of a gas station appear - only for the price to be $1.00 a gallon higher than the last gas station you passed 2 hours ago. Don't let this happen to you! There are sites - such as Gas Buddy Trip Calculator - that will map out the cheapest gas on your route in advance, so you can make sure you're getting the lowest price possible BEFORE you run out of gas in Nowheresville, USA.

3. The More the Merrier: I already mentioned that splitting the gas with your car-mates reduces your cost, but splitting EVERYTHING with EVERYONE is even cheaper! Whether you're renting a cabin or camping in the woods, the more people there are, the cheaper it is. For example, one year I went with a group of 15 down to Daytona, FL. We added up all of our costs in advance - including gas for the 3 car caravan and 3 hotel rooms in a hotel RIGHT on the beach  - and then split it evenly 15 ways. Total cost for our trip? $120! Whether you're renting a hotel room or a cabin, the more people you can cram in there (legally, of course - check when you make a reservation so you don't get hit with fees or, worse, kicked out) - the cheaper everyone's price will be! So go ahead and invite your friend's girlfriend, her brother, that cute guy from Biology and your RA.

4. Research Before You Get There I know the word "research" kinda makes it sound like homework, but this is FUN homework! Look up stuff like the local scene, clubs, bars, restaurants, tourist attractions and whatever else is cool to do at your destination BEFORE you go. Not only will you save valuable relaxing and partying time once you arrive, but you can also find out what your costs will be- and what places you should avoid, like the botanical gardens that cost $15. You might find some really fun cheap stuff that you didn't know about! Also think about things like transportation (how will you get to/from the bars? Are they walking distance or do you need to get a taxi or arrange a DD to provide a shuttle?) cover charges, and anything else you might not be thinking of yet but will have to pay for during your trip so you can prepare and scrounge together as much money as you need.

5. Save on Food No, you don't have to bring a case of Ramen noodles with you (though you definitely could, you can make it using the hotel's coffee pot or just very hot tap water. I know this from lots of experience.) but food tends to be the highest expense on a vacation, just because everyone wants to eat out  every single meal, 3x a day. It adds up! Save money on food by doing the following:

  • Pack a cooler in the car. That way you don't have to stop at Taco Bell every time anyone gets hungry, or spend a bunch of extra money on overpriced snacks at gas stations. 
  • Go to the grocery store as soon as you get to your destination! Buy stuff that you can snack on throughout the week and eat for breakfast, especially if your hotel doesn't provide any food. Get some sandwich making stuff for easy, quick, cheap meals even if you don't have a way to cook. If you don't have any amenities like a fridge, that cooler will come in handy here - fill it with ice or cold water.  If you're renting a cabin with a fully functional kitchen, look up some cheap recipes (Like these) and cook dinner together as a group! It's so much cheaper than eating out, and WAY more fun, too. 
  • Buy some coupons. is a great way to save money on eating out, especially with a big group. The more you spend, the more you can save with the coupon! Search for restaurants in the area you'll be staying and pick up a few for dinner. Although full-priced coupons are $10 for $25 off your meal, the site almost always has coupons available that slash those prices. Right now, until 3/8/12, use the coupon code TRIP to slash 70% off your total purchase. Now you can eat out without breaking the bank!

6. Pay for Everything with Mystery Shopping Remember the post I wrote on mystery shopping? And how I was like omg, this is the great thing ever? Well, allow me to reiterate that. This year, I am paying for the entire gas bill for my Spring Break vacation - with mystery shops. And I don't mean like I'm saving up. I mean I'm literally doing mystery shops all the way down and back -at travel centers and gas stations! Travel centers & gas stations are one of the most bonused shops out there, because they tend to be in the middle of nowhere - and that means you get paid tons to do them! You'll find travel center shops at and BeyondHello (contact me for a referral link to BeyondHello) gas stations at Corporate Research International  (contact me for a referral link to CRI) and Ritter Associates. How much does a travel center shop pay, you ask? Oh, about $20. Do 5 of them and you just got $100. Sound good? It gets better - you can schedule food shops and more on the way to and at your location! Schedule a few fast food shops with MarketForce. Just about every mystery shopping company has some good food shops available - Corporate Research International has about a million - and some, like Amusement Advantage, even have theme parks, zoos, ice skating rinks, and more! (Give my email -[at] - during signup at Amusement Advantage, please! I might get a referral bonus.) The options are limitless - not only are your expenses paid for, but you get PAID on top of that! Read my post about Mystery Shopping for more details.

7. Pack Everything You Might Need I mean, don't pack so much that no one else can fit their luggage in the trunk. But you don't want to arrive at the beach only to realize you've forgotten your towel, swimsuit and sunscreen and need to take a $50 trip to Target. Include all toiletries, camera, plenty of clothes, a few pairs of shoes, a towel, and maybe a deck of cards, some DVDs or a hookah for some free entertainment. Remember to bring a pillow and blanket, especially if your sleeping situation is going to be cramped and possibly involve tents or the floor. And pack clothes for multiple weather conditions - things can get weird this time of year, and you don't want to have to buy a jacket because Daytona Beach happens to be 40 degrees in March (this is a true story, it is super cold there.)

8. Sleeping Situations: I have mentioned a couple possible sleeping situations in passing, but let's run down the list of options.

  • Hotel: Easy, convenient, posh, practically risk-free. Most will be cool with having a large group of people stay in one room as long as there's a hefty security deposit, but always check first. 
  • Cabin: Renting a cabin is a great idea for large groups. You'll also be able to cook, which means you can save money on food. These tend to go fast though, so don't just show up hoping there's a vacancy!
  • Camping: If you're outdoorsy, and your friends are cool with roughing it for a few days, campsites are insanely cheap - think $4 a night cheap. You'll need your own camping equipment (tent, sleeping bag, supplies for cooking, etc) but most campsites do have restrooms and showers, and some offer electricity for a higher fee. Befriend a few Eagle Scouts and stock up on camp-fire gear to make the most of this vacation!
  • Couch Surfing: Yes, this is a real thing. Personally I've never tried it, but my boyfriend and his friends used this site for Spring Break one year. They weren't robbed or killed, so that's good, but this certainly isn't the most comfortable sleeping situation. Don't do it alone, and be wary of your surroundings and belongings. Although most people using the site are probably harmless and totally cool, playing it safe is always the best bet. If you and your friends are looking for adventure, meeting new people, and don't mind sleeping on couches and potentially sketchy situations, this one's for you. (Plus: totally free!)
  • Hostels: Cheaper than a hotel and less potentially scary than Couch Surfing (unless, of course, you've watched that one movie .... you know the one I'm talking about) hostels are another option for cheap sleeping. Use this site to search for hostels, and DON'T watch that movie if you haven't seen it already. Just don't do it!
9. Get a Groupon: Like, Groupon can be a great way to save money on something you'd probably pay full price for anyway. Right now they have a special Spring Break section with some AMAZING deals on awesome beach resorts and hotels, that are ACTUALLY AFFORDABLE. (Ridiculous!) They also have really cool activities for cheap, like mini golf, museum tickets, yoga, and clubs. Just search in your area to find some awesome stuff for your entire group to do, on the cheap!

10. Have a Staycation: The cheapest way to spend Spring Break is by staying at home. Not only will it allow you to finally catch up on the reading you've been putting off for your classes - and possibly time to do some laundry - but you can actually have a lot of fun at home! Pretend you're a tourist and visit some places you've never been. Grab a friend and explore a new part of town. Get a local Groupon and treat yourself to a spa day or salsa dancing class. Find a new restaurant you've never eaten at before, get a coupon and order drinks and dessert. Go camping for a night, go fishing and have your very own campfire. See if they have zip-lining in your area (my new favorite thing) or go sky-diving or something crazy! Then when people ask how you spent your spring break, you can say "I went freaking sky-diving!" instead of "I stayed home and did homework." (You secretly did both! Ha!) Staying home CAN be cool!

How are you going to spend Spring Break, and what will you do to keep your costs down? Tell me in the comments! As for me, I'll be in Orlando, FL! I can't wait!! 

Want to know about new freebies, samples, deals and money-saving as soon as they happen? Follow The Broke Student's Guide on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Freebies of the Week 3/1!

FREE Sample of Quaker Oatmeal Squares! Click Here

FREE Tide Pods laundry detergent sample! Click Here

FREE $25 Prepaid Visa Card when you test drive a 2012 Kia Optima at a participating dealership by 3/31/12. You'll need to print your personalized certificate and get it signed by the dealer after your test drive. Your certificate must be mailed in by 4/15/12. Click Here
FREE Sample of Rachel Ray Nutrish dog food! Click Here

FREE Amazon Kindle Book: Getting Organized: Improving Focus, Organization and Productivity. Click Here

FREE sample of Eucerin Calming Itch Relief. "Like" the Facebook Page

FREE SKYN condom sample! "Like" the Facebook Page

FREE Ritz Crackerfuls at Quick Chek! Print the Coupon

FREE Sample of Life Choice nutrition bars! Click Here

FREE slice of pie at Waffle House! Print the Coupon

 FREE subscription to Newsweek magazine! Click Here

FREE subscripiton to Latina magazine! Click Here

FREE sample of the fragrance Love Fury by Nine West! Click Here

FREE Pro-X Skin Analyzer Headband. Not really sure what this is, exactly, but Click Here.
FREE sample of Gud Lotion by Burt's Bees! "Like" the Facebook Page

FREE Sample of Find Your Bliss Shower Gel and Body Butter! Click Here

FREE Sample of NRGX Protein Supplement! "Like" the Facebook Page

FREE Spark Energy Drink sample! Click Here

FREE Sample of Splenda Essentials! Click Here

FREE sample of Yummi Bears Gummy Vitamins! Use promo code "KKFREE". Click Here

My favorite paid-to site is Swagbucks. I earn at least $25 in Amazon Gift cards each and every month! Read more about Swagbucks in this entry.

 Want to know about new freebies, samples, deals and money-saving as soon as they happen? Follow The Broke Student's Guide on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Broke and Beautiful: Tips and Tricks to Save Money on your Beauty Routine

Being broke doesn't mean you have to LOOK broke. As college students, it's a requirement to look put-together for career and networking events such as career fairs or even class projects. This can be tricky when you're on a tight budget, but it's not impossible! Here are some tips and tricks to save money on your everyday beauty routine. And here are some possibilities to save on brand name beauty products through these coupons for Macys.

1. DIY Tinted Moisturizer: Tinted moisturizer - a lightweight, sometimes sheer foundation that moisturizes your skin - has become a hot product, especially for the summertime. It's my go-to product for those days when I'm super bored/lazy/tired/have class in 5 minutes/want to apply foundation and moisturizer at the same time (so basically always). But tinted moisturizers are pricey, often WAY more expensive than either moisturizer or foundation. Chances are, you already have a foundation in your color and a moisturizer that you like, so here's how to make your own tinted moisturizer: combine them. Yup, it's that easy. You can put them in their own little container or just mix a drop of each on the back of your hand before you apply it to your face. Voila! Tinted moisturizer.
  • Even Better: Make your tinted moisturizer multi-task even more by adding other products to it such as self-tanner or tea tea oil (for acne - but don't add regular acne cream because it tends to flake). Anything you put underneath your makeup can probably be added to your tinted moisturizer to save time and keep you from buying multi-tasking products that you can make yourself!

2. Apply your makeup right: Using the right applicators to apply your makeup can make the difference between smooth, blended makeup and a streaky mess. It can also make a difference in your wallet - using a sponge to apply makeup sucks up the majority of your product, leaving most of it in the sponge instead of on your face - aka wasting your money! Sponges also tend to grow bacteria and must be thrown out frequently, meaning you have to purchase more sponges, which adds up. Instead, use clean, dry fingers to apply foundation, moisturizer, and concealer. Your hands (which are free) won't absorb as much product as a sponge, and your body's natural warmth will help the product sink into your skin.
  • Even better: If you use makeup brushes to apply your makeup, make sure you wash them frequently with cold water and soap (or shampoo, or face wash, etc). Washing them more frequently helps the brushes work better, avoids dirt and oil buildup which leads to acne, and ensures no bacteria growth. Use cold water because hot water loosens the glue which holds the brush together, causing your brush to fall apart over time.
3. Get sparkly white teeth: Teeth whitening can cost an arm and a leg, but it doesn't have to! The primary ingredient in every whitener - be it at your dentist or the pharmacy - is hydrogen peroxide. The secondary ingredient is typically baking soda. You probably know what I'm about to say, but here it is anyway: you can make your own teeth whitening paste by combining hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. These two magical products are available for around $1 at your local grocery store, pharmacy or dollar store! Just combine them and use it in addition to or instead of your normal toothpaste for super white teeth. (Note: it tastes gross, so you might want to add some flavoring or mix it with your normal yummy toothpaste or mouthwash.)

  • Even Better: You can use hydrogen peroxide as a whitening mouthwash. It won't give you that tingly feeling or make your breath minty fresh, but it WILL whiten your teeth. You can also use it to help clean out your ears and sanitize cuts. You can use baking soda to wash your hair and your house! Who knew such cheap products were so amazing?

4. When it comes to your face, less is more: For those of us with "problem" skin (oily, acne prone, flaky, etc) our tendency is to buy tons of "miracle" products to try to fix our face. We buy special cleanser, moisturizer, treatment cream, toner, and more for our face and slather it all on there. If it doesn't work, we buy different products and try again. The result is an endless cycle of expensive products that aren't helping anything and are, more likely, creating the very problem we're trying to fix. Let me explain. If you happen to have acne-prone or oily skin (like me) you might be drawn to products that promise to soak up all the oil in your face, dry it out, treat all of the acne with strong acids or peroxides, and leave us with clean, clear skin. Your skin might feel tight after you wash it, but end up an oil slick within hours, resulting in zits and shininess. So maybe you go wash your face again to get rid of all that oil - only to find yourself repeating the cycle over and over. This is because your skin actually NEEDS that oil! It needs to be hydrated so that it can move and stretch and do all of the things skin does. Without oil, things would be painful and uncomfortable. Over-drying our skin causes it to overcompensate by producing MORE oil than we might actually need, creating that oily mess that can lead to acne. If you have oily skin that gets dry and flaky in the winter, this applies to you most of all. Stop drying out your face! Stop stressing out your skin with too many harsh products! Just let it do its thing! 

         Now, I don't want you to have dirty skin - but you can cleanse and treat your skin WITHOUT the harsh chemical cleansers. Try using baby wipes instead. Baby wipes are the cheap version of makeup-removing towelettes, and they also tend to be infused with aloe, vitamin E, and other nutritious stuff for your face. They are designed not to irritate sensitive skin so they don't stress and upset your skin (especially the "unscented" or "sensitive skin" types.) And they do just as good of a job at cleaning off the day's makeup and dirt as your harsh, chemically cleanser would, without stripping your skin of its natural oils and leading to too much oil production. If you're skeptical, try this experiment for a week: use baby wipes in place of your cleanser.  Moisturize afterwards, and spot treat any acne with your usual spot treatment (DON'T slather it all over your face, though!) Check if there's a difference in your skin at the end of the week - most likely, it's a little bit less dry and flaky, a little bit less oily, and a little bit more clear.  Keep using those baby wipes and you'll find that you never need to buy an expensive cleanser again. Just make sure you moisturize and use those baby wipes every day, and you've have clear, beautiful, unstressed skin at a fraction of the cost in no time. (PS: if you  also use the DIY skincare treatments below, your skin and wallet will thank you!)

5. Get the most out of your nail polish: Have you ever opened up your nail polish collection only to find that your favorite colors are clumpy, flaky, or just plain dried out? Save yourself the cost of new nail polish by saving those polishes with this nifty trick: just add nail polish remover! I know it sounds strange, but adding a few drops of nail polish remover as needed will make out your polish and make it last much, much longer. If it's an older polish, you might have to do this before EVERY application - but at least you'll be able to finish out the bottle instead of throwing it away only half empty! Go on, try it - what do you have to lose? You'd just be throwing that polish out anyway!

6. Natural (and affordable) DIY beauty solutions: You can give yourself a spa day just using stuff you already have in your house! If you don't have these ingredients, they aren't very expensive and can be purchased at any grocery store.

  • For Your Skin
    • Apple Cider Vinegar makes a great bacteria-killing toner for acne-prone skin. More details here
    • Witch Hazel makes another excellent toner! Apply it to a cotton ball to cleanse the dirt from your pores. More details here
    • Green Tea makes yet another great toner, especially for oily skin. Read some reviews here
    • 1/2 tsp. of sea salt + 2 egg yolks + 1/2 cup of yogurt = Toning Mask! Add all ingredients, apply to face and let dry. This is an exfoliating, tightening and soothing face mask.
    • Sea Salt + Olive Oil = Exfoliating Scrub! Add some vanilla or yummy smelling scent to overpower the smell of the olive oil. The Dollar Tree has some good smelling oils in their candle aisle. Use this scrub on hands, feet, and anywhere your skin needs exfoliating moisture.
    • Aspirin + Honey = Exfoliating, moisturizing face mask. Great for acne-prone skin. Instructions Here
    • Coffee Grounds make an antioxidant-rich, de-puffing exfoliant for face and body. Add olive oil, yogurt or honey to coffee grounds after your daily cup! More details here and here
    • Honey is a great humectant and bacteria-killer for your face. It's great for acne-prone skin! More details here
    • Yogurt is great for skin as well, especially when combined with honey. Instructions here

7. You are what you eat: Beauty comes from the inside out, so eating a healthy diet and staying hydrated are vital for the health of your nails, skin and hair. Eat as many fruits and veggies as you can, and remember that canned and frozen are just as healthy and much cheaper than fresh! Pick up a box of green tea bags from the dollar store to benefit from antioxidants and disease-fighting free radicals that will help clear your skin (read about more benefits here). Plus, you can use the tea bag on your face after you've brewed it! Make sure you're drinking enough water each day - staying hydrated helps keep your skin from flaking, especially during the winter! Make sure you're getting plenty of protein and calcium, which help your hair and nails grow stronger - dairy is a great source of both! And if your diet is lacking, try to take some vitamin supplements. You can find hair, skin + nails supplement mixes at the grocery store for less than $10!

8. Get every last drop out of your beauty products: You know that feeling when you're squeezing some empty plastic tube every which way, trying to get out the last drops of your expensive beauty products? You KNOW there's some left in there, but you can't get it out - so you probably just throw the product away. Well next time, don't! Just cut the container open so you can access the last bit of your product before throwing it away. There's usually more than you'd expect, so have a baggie on hand to hold the opened product so it doesn't dry out. This works best for plastic containers that are easy to cut open, especially tubes such as for moisturizer or spot treatment, but you can use it for basically any product that appears to be empty. As long as you can break open the packaging, you can make sure you get your money's worth!

More pictures at this blog entry!
9. Don't throw away broken eye shadows: Have a loose or crumbled eye shadow? Don't throw it away! Eye shadows are easy to press back into place using isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol). The alcohol evaporates away from the eye shadow, leaving it perfectly in place! Just mix a few drops of alcohol with your eyeshadow powder to make it easy to pour into a pan and set. This trick will actually work with any powder makeup, such as blush! Instructions here and here

10. Buy beauty products for cheaper: I get a lot of beauty products from HauteLook, where brands such as LORAC, Stila and Urban Decay sell makeup for insanely discounted prices, and there's almost always a good hair-care line. HauteLook is where I discovered 100% Pure, which is my all-time favorite beauty brand - but too expensive to afford full price! Bonus: refer friends to HauteLook for free purchase credits! Read more here. I also get a ton of beauty goodies from Amazon thanks to my free gift cards from Swagbucks.  Read more about Swagbucks in this entry - personally, I earn about $25 in Amazon Gift cards each and every month! Did you know that Sephora has an entire store on Amazon? That means that Amazon gift cards = Sephora gift cards - and they're FREE! It's like Christmas every day! You can also get high quality, cheap brushes from CVS - their Essence of Beauty line is great - and Target - their Sonia Kashuk line is pricier than CVS, but still high quality!

So there you have it! You can be broke and stay beautiful! Don't see your favorite cheap beauty tip posted? Let me know in the comments!

Want to know about new freebies, samples, deals and money-saving as soon as they happen? Follow The Broke Student's Guide on FacebookTwitter and Tumblr.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...