Face it: you aren’t rich

Universally, college students tend to struggle with finances. Between classes, work and a personal life, there’s enough to deal with. On top of it all, having to budget one’s spending can be an especially big pain in the ass.

Universally, college students tend to struggle with finances. Between classes, work and a personal life, there’s enough to deal with. On top of it all, having to budget one’s spending can be an especially big pain in the ass.

The truth is that your dream job, along with an accompanying dream paycheck, is a thing of the future, and perhaps a distant one. Right now, the sooner you learn to stretch your financial aid or your lousy retail earnings, the happier you’ll be.

Here is some friendly advice on how to do it.

Fancy-free livingThe first step to saving money is to identify what you spend too much on. You have to ask yourself, “What could I live with less of?” Or, “What could I live without?” It’s tough, for sure, but your bank account will thank you for keeping it better fed.

If water and electricity are not included in your rent, be conservative! Take shorter showers and don’t be one of those jerks that leave the water running on full blast while brushing your teeth. Even if you don’t mind paying for it, it’s just wasteful. Second graders know that.

When the cold weather hits, resist the urge to crank up your thermostat. A few dollars here and there in the name of comfort may seem like no big thang, but your electric bill won’t just rise, it’ll spike. Instead, throw on a layer or two.

If you’re a true Oregonian you probably own twice your weight in fleeces and sweatshirts, so it’s not like you aren’t prepared to bundle up.

Fine diningDo you consider yourself good with money but still wonder why you don’t have any?

Take a closer look at your eating habits. Yes, you must eat to survive, but restaurant prices so do not reflect the actual cost of food. Try eating at home more often to save a lot of money. Grocery shopping should be a regular activity if you can’t afford to spend hours worth of minimum wage pay on your meals.

When you do want to grab a bite to eat out, try some of the many great happy hours in Portland. Though a drink purchase is required, it doesn’t have to be an alcoholic one, and you can find some really delicious food for even more delicious prices.

Cindy Anderson’s Portland Happy Hour Guidebook is a good source for tracking down the best happy hour spots in any part of town.

Fun moneyIt seems like everything fun costs money. Movies, shows, restaurants, bars??these things aren’t free. But if you know where to look, you can find events across the city that are.

The Around the Sun Blog, at aroundthesunblog.com, is a Portland-specific Web site maintained by Portland-area resident Amy Reyes. It is dedicated to sharing info on free and cheap events around the city and its suburbs.

Check in often for tips on free and cheap happenings around Portland. The blog is updated each Friday with free weekend activities. You want to know when there are free root beer floats in Pioneer Square (a real past event) or where free movies are being shown.

Close to PSU, the Fifth Avenue Cinema plays movies every weekend that are free with a student ID. Visit www.fifthavenuecinema.groups.pdx.edu for a list of showings.

Also, bookstores, most specifically all Powell’s locations, have regular author readings throughout the week that are, of course, free. Find monthly schedules at www.powells.com.

Free ride, take it easyWho isn’t bitching about gas prices?

Bus riders, that’s who. And bicyclists. While gas prices rise, fall and then rise even higher, riders of public transportation and bikes have not had to shell out any more dough to get around. For an annual membership of $15, bicyclists on campus can have access to the PSU Bicycle Co-op, which provides repair help from experts, tools and safe parking.

If you currently drive to get to PSU and it’s weighing on your wallet (and possibly your soul, too) you may rethink your method of transportation. If you come from the suburbs where a transit center isn’t within walking distance, you can park and ride. Visit trimet.com to see what transit options are close to you. You might be surprised.

A FlexPass, a discounted all-zone TriMet pass offered through the PSU Parking and Transportation Services, is significantly cheaper than a PSU parking pass. While the closest MAX stop to PSU is still a short walk away from campus, you can catch the Portland Streetcar on Southwest Ninth Avenue between Taylor and Yamhill, only a block away from a MAX stop.

Your lazy ass might also benefit from the walk.

Money saving resources

Discover tasty, cheap eats with:Happy Hour Guidebook by Cindy AndersonFound at most local booksellers, including the PSU Bookstore

Find free Portland events at:aroundthesungblog.com

Public transit can work for you! See:trimet.org