5 Inexpensive Ways To Have Fun In College

August 13, 2008

college life

College was not too long ago for me, and there are times when I wish I could get those days back. The friends you meet, the experiences, the football games, and staying up all night are great memories that I’ll never forget. I never had much money in college. My parents didn’t give me a dime while I was there. I was a delivery driver, sold stuff on ebay, and I participated in research studies to make extra money to pay bills and have a little left over to have some fun. After all, the college experience is lost if you stay in your apartment the whole time. Here’s five ideas for having fun without spending much money.

The Wii Party

Do you have a Wii? Do you have a friend with a Wii? Have a bunch of friends over, bring some drinks (non-alcoholic if you’re under 21, I don’t want that on my conscious), and have a good time swinging your arms back and forth like an idiot. I love the Wii. I don’t have one, but I will someday. Every time I’ve played it, I couldn’t put it down. It’s great for a party, and it’s hilarious to watch people with a buzz try to swing at a virtual tennis ball.

The College Music Scene

If you go to a decent sized school, the chances are good that tons of aspiring bands are trying to make it big. Most of them suck, but there are a few gems out there, and the cover to see their show is usually cheap. Going to see a quality college band is a great night of fun, just make sure you don’t spend your whole wad on drinks. The venues that host these bands try to make their money on selling over-priced, watered-down drinks.

Stay Active and Exercise

There are a slew of sports, exercise, and outdoor activities to participate in on your college campus. Take advantage of them! In college, you will meet friends that you will keep for the rest of your life and possibly your future spouse. But, you can’t do that when you’re sitting at home on the computer, and you can’t do it when you let your body become a tub of goo. While at school at the University of Florida, a group of friends played ultimate frisbee every thursday night. I played flag football, frisbee, and basketball intramurals. I “tried” to work out three times a week, and we went on numerous weekend camping trips. Sports and outdoor activities are free, and you’re exercising your body. It’s a beautiful thing, so don’t neglect it when you’re in school.

Sports and Cultural Events

Most sports and cultural event tickets are free for students. Major universities will offer more of these events than smaller ones, but I experienced both a huge university of 40,000 students and a small one of 1,500 students, and both places offered numerous events to attend. I am a big sports nut, so I went to football, basketball, baseball, gymnastics, volleyball, and soccer games. But, I also went to university orchestras, plays, musicals, and key note speakers. Don’t miss out on the events offered at your university.

Find Bars and NIght Clubs Offering A Deal

If you’re the big party type, and you want the frat boy/sorority girl clubbin’ scene, there’s still a way to go out on the cheap. Ladies, you have it made. There’s a club or bar offering ladies drink free every night of the week. You just need to figure out which one it is. Men, you don’t have that luxury, but you can frequent the bars that offer good drink specials with no cover charge. Scour the internet for a local website that highlights the drink/cover specials for every bar and club in your area. Gainesville is the prototypical college town. Take away the university, and it’s not much of a town. The clubs and bars obviously catered to students, so it was easy to find cheap drinks with no cover charge. Be wise and be safe when you go out late at night.

Many of you remember my personal testimony about breaking the debt cycle and getting on the right track with my personal finances. I have heart for college students, because I know what kind of a hole you can dig yourself into if you are reckless with your money. Be frugal with your money in college. You won’t have much, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun.

You may want to check out the other articles in the series on the best banks for college students, how you can make extra money in college, and the best student credit cards.

Stay tuned for tomorrow when we’ll cover the best student car insurance.

This list of free or cheap ways to have fun in college is part of the College Student Money Guide.


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Erik Folgate is a husband and father living in Orlando who's been writing about money online for 6 years. Digging himself out of $20k of debt after college and his former experience in the insurance industry give him some useful insights into personal finance issues.

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