9 Free and Cheap Ways to Have a lot of Fun as a College Student

As a college student, you’re expected to be broke so why do all the fun things that college students want to attend have to cost so much money! It doesn’t make any sense. Well, here are a few ways to have a lot of fun without breaking the bank.

#1 Attend college-sponsored events

College-sponsored events are typically on campus or they provide some form of transportation for off-campus events. They’re designed with students in mind and they want you to have a good time. Examples of college-sponsored events that can be a ton of fun are sporting events (soccer, football, baseball, basketball volleyball etc), Greek Life fairs and other special events.

Every year, the University of Houston hosts Frontier Fiesta on campus. It’s a full weekend of fun, games, great food and music. College-sponsored events will not cost you a fortune and can be a great way to blow off some steam. Take the time to learn about the different stuff going on around campus and bring a friend. If none of your friends want to go then go by yourself. Be spontaneous!

#2 Use Facebook to find local and free events

Facebook has an app specifically for Facebook events and I love it! I use that tool to find networking events and cool stuff to do around Houston. Use the app to find different events going on around your city and attend them. They’re either free or really cheap. You can coordinate your next escapade with your friends you see attending.

The nice thing about Facebook is that a lot of underground event planners use it to coordinate and schedule their events. Facebook is a great way to find unique events that will leave an impression.  You can bring your friends with you or fly solo. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.

#3 Find and use student discounts

Do you have any idea how many student discounts go unclaimed? It’s ridiculous! Why pay money if you don’t have to? Before purchasing literally anything ask or Google if there is a student discount. In fact, consider shopping at places with a student discount first.

Caution: the point of using a student discount is to save money. If you can buy the same thing at a different place for cheaper without a student discount then do that instead.

#4 Learn how to use public transportation

Don’t get me wrong. I love Lyft and Uber, but they can get pricey if you are not careful. You can save yourself hundreds in transportation costs if you learn how to use public transit. I know it can be scary getting lost on public transit but think about it this way. If you get lost, you can always take an Uber/Lyft back home. It all works out.

Most public transits have an app associated with it to help you learn when and where the stops will be. Personally, I love riding the rail. To me, it’s the best form of public transit. I would ride the rail everywhere if I could. Learning how to use public transit to get to places you like to visit often will save you a ton of cash on parking or Ubers/Lyfts. Plus, you can take your time to enjoy the ride.

Challenge yourself to use public transit to get to museums, stadiums, city libraries, the park and at least one chill hangout spot. Some places I love to visit using the rail are Tout Suite, Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Breakfast Klub, Discovery Green, Houston Public Library, Hermann Park and other cool spots in downtown Houston.

#5 Go to citywide events

You can have a great time at city wide events. They also tend to be relatively cheap to enter. Be careful though, they’re typically sponsored by independent vendors and all that shopping may get you caught in an expensive trap. As long as you keep an eye on your wallet, you can have a blast without spending a fortune.

A city-wide event I enjoy attending every year is the Bayou City Art Festival. BCAF hosts hundreds of local artists showing off their crafts to excited buyers. Simply walking through the festival is an exciting event by itself. There are games, food trucks and entertainment for children as well. I like to pick up some unique pieces for friends and family while I’m there as well.

#6 Eat before you go out and carry snacks with you

Honestly, eat a full meal before you go out anywhere. If you are going out to eat, still eat food before you go out anyway. That way you spend less money at the place you’re eating and you might be able to split a meal. It’s always cheaper to eat at home than eat out. This gives you the opportunity to focus on the quality of the experience rather than how much money you don’t have to eat.

Bonus tip: spare the bottle. Honestly, booze is expensive and it “magically” multiplies itself after the first bottle. Do yourself a favor and skip the booze for nice free water.

#7 Don’t bring your card

I encourage you to go old school and bring cash with you. I know. I know. I know. It’s an extreme hassle. I don’t like it either, but if you’re broke, you have to do what you have to do. Suffer what you must to save some extra cash. You’ll thank yourself later.

When you don’t bring your card, it is physically impossible to spend more money than you have. It’s the perfect fail-safe way to save you and your bank account from yourself.

Speaking of bank accounts, make sure you have a college student account. Banks typically don’t charge students to open a checking and savings account. There is no reason to pay fees if you don’t have to. Most universities are affiliated with a credit union that offers free checking and savings accounts. Take advantage of the extra savings.

Shout out! I bank with TDECU and love them to the moon and back! (Not endorsed by TDECU. Just love them because they’re awesome.)  

#8 Volunteer doing cool, unique stuff

Volunteering is completely free and a lot of fun! You should always find ways to give back to the community. It will help you out a lot. No seriously. Volunteering is good for your mental and emotional health. Find fun events around town to volunteer at. Even if it doesn’t look that glamorous on the surface, take a chance and volunteer your time. Volunteering helps you develop a real bond and love for your city. You’ll make new relationships and pass the time without spending a dime.

#9 Tell your friends you’re broke

If they’re your real friends, they’ll respect you for your honesty. If they have a problem with that then you probably need new friends. Seriously, telling your friends you’re broke will help them be more understanding of your situation. That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun anymore or you can’t hang out. True friends don’t leave one another because they are broke. Knowing the reality of the financial situation will allow you and your friends to be more creative in the way you spend time together.

Sometimes college is synonymous with expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, I’m determined to make college synonymous with achievable and realistic. Structuring the way you spend your free time will do exactly that. I know college is a huge time and financial commitment. That’s why it’s important to keep track of the rest of your finances and maximize your opportunities while you’re in school. That means having as much fun as possible regardless of your financial situation.

Let me know other ways you like to have fun as a (broke) college student in the comments section! If you found this article helpful, please share it with another friend in need. Don’t forget to frequent my Facebook page for more resources. If you have any questions ask them here or in the comments section!

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