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Broke and Thriving

Challenger

Broke and Thriving

Illustration by Preston Randall

Two years from today, I plan on being 4,454 miles away.

My college roadmap includes studying abroad, most likely in Florence, Italy.

Unfortunately, I’m broke like most college students, and in the two years before I travel, I want to have fun with my friends.

This week’s challenge is a work in progress: figuring out how to balance having fun with friends without spending too much.

“I don’t want to spend money” or “I’m too broke for that” are my trademark sayings this semester — and they aren’t even true.

I save money more than I spend it, but my savings are earmarked for certain goals: studying abroad, less student debt and financial stability after graduation.

Lofty goals make me want to say “no” every time my friends suggest going out for coffee — but that’s not balanced either.

The strategy I’ve started to implement is to say “yes” but with limits.

For example, I love to go thrifting with my friends. The problem is, I end up finding cute clothes I want to buy.

When I go thrift shopping with my mom, our tradition is to find the most ridiculous piece of clothing and try it on. I realized this humor and camaraderie with my friend group is why I love shopping — and I can preserve that without spending money.

Sometimes the solution is to join but not buy anything for yourself. Other times, planning a free hangout is the best option to include everyone.

Get creative with your ideas. The highlight for me so far is my friend group’s PowerPoint presentation night. Our assignment was simple: create a hilarious presentation. The result was a mix of cute and irreverent topics like ranking Marvel characters’ butts, recasting “Brooklyn 99” with our friends and reasons why each friend would get a divorce. Each one made us cry laughing, and the night is already one of my favorite college memories. 

Even simple things are fun: I’ve enjoyed studying with my friends, movie nights, playing games and getting together with coloring books.

My personal favorite free activity is exploring the outdoors. A few weekends ago, my friends and I visited Cuyahoga Valley National Park, wading barefoot through the Cuyahoga River. October is chillier but a perfect time to experience fall foliage from the area’s hiking trails.

Of course, balance is key. You don’t always need to refuse going out to save your pennies. That’s not realistic anyway. To be honest, I have a few weaknesses: ice cream, coffee and books. I also have an inexplicable thing for white shirts. At last count, I own 15. 

The best option is moderation. For example, I’ve limited myself to indulging in my coffee addiction once a week when I meet with a group of girls before going to church together. 

If it’s going to bring me joy, I make an exception. For clothes, I tend to think of price per wear. When I found cute white shirt No. 15 at Einstein’s Attic, I knew I would wear it many times. To avoid wasting what you earn, ask yourself, “Is this worth it?”  

It’s not always easy to answer. I swivel between feeling like a left out Scrooge and a guilty broke who’s answering yet another of my mom’s “Why are you spending money on food when you have a meal plan?” texts. 

Finding the balance between the two is hard, but I’m beginning to make progress with the help of understanding friends and resolve to reach my goals. 

Best of luck to each of you as you implement these strategies in your own lives.

SUPPORT STUDENT MEDIA

Hi, I’m Holly Liptak, a senior journalism student from Akron and the editor-in-chief of The Burr this semester. My staff and I are committed to bringing you interesting, humorous and hard-hitting stories that tap into current events, trends and the lives of those who have made a home in Kent, Ohio. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate.

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