Being broke is a feeling I am very well accustomed to. You dread looking at your bank account statement, you hold off on buying groceries for days, you find new and creative ways to delay getting gas. Basically the world is not your oyster, because the oyster costs too much and you are broke. I am not the first or last person to feel this way. Most twentysomethings are not rolling around piles of cash.
My parents told me I was going to be broke, but I didn't believe them. In my mind screenwriting was a super lucrative job. Then I graduated college and had to get an apartment. And pay bills. And pay for food. Oh, collegiate me, there was so much adulthood in store, and so little time to warn you about it! Thankfully, I quickly learned that in order to survive, there are a few tips and tricks that every certifiably broke person needs to know.
Below are just some of my favorite Broke AF Tricks that you can steal and use for your own entertainment. I must warn you to do them at your own discretion. They have been acquired by my friends and my own experience.
1. The Garbage Bowl
When you are out of groceries but you cannot afford to go food shopping, you tend to improvise. My favorite dish always comes three days before I can go food shopping. It's called the garbage bowl. You take every known ingredient and microwave it with some rice. Frozen peas, corn, carrots, broccoli. It doesn't look appetizing, but it feels great on your wallet.
2. Stealing Toilet Paper
This would go under the "do at your own discretion" tab. Do I recommend you steal toilet paper form your local coffee shop? No. Am I saying that it will totally save you money in the long run? Absolutely. For those living out of their cars, some fancy coffee shop bathrooms can also serve as showers. Just saying.
3. Thrift Shopping
The next holiday party, date, or even business meeting means you need a wardrobe overhaul. Being broke gives you the freedom to search for your next one-of-a-kind piece in a pile of other people's used clothes. Frankly, I would be doing this even if I wasn't broke, because shirts that cost $4 are my shiz.
The days of going out to bars and buying $12 dollar fruity drinks are behind you. What this means is that have to stock up on Costco-sized bottles of liquor. Then get enough in your system before you go out that you do not need an actual bar drink for at least an hour. Side effects do include maybe not being let into the actual bar.
5. You Get Ramen, And You Get Ramen...And You!
These little heart stopping noodle buckets are perfect for those on a tight budget. Sure your body will hate that the sodium levels are at 354 percent but at least you'll be able to afford soap.
6. Dollar Store
If you have no money or very little of it, you need your bucks to stretch. And what better place for that to happen than in a Dollar Store? I would not suggest buy fresh produce or perishables there, but paper towels, tooth paste, and canned soups are a total steal. Why on earth would I pay $3 for one can of soup when I can get three for the same price?! MATH, PEOPLE, MATH!
7. The Internet
Almost anything that you need, you can find cheaper online. Obviously, be aware of the whole Craigslist Killer thing, but get your moneys worth. Ya dig!?
8. Hand Washing Your Clothes
Whoever decided to make laundry both expensive and tedious clearly didn't go to business school. Not only do I hate doing laundry in general, paying close to $5 each time, IN QUARTERS, is insane. I started washing my underwear and bras by hand, then hanging them up to dry. The bigger items of clothing, I do not wash after each time I wear it. Saved me enough money to go to the movies (#humblebrag).
9. Picking Up Change
Being broke means having your own set of moral standards, some of which have softly encouraged me to pick up change I see on the ground. Sure, I'm perpetuating like a thousand stereotypes of my people, but at least after going to nearest Cointstar I can buy a cup of coffee.
10. Street Furniture
Because I drive around Los Angeles in a mini-van with vanity plates, I have no shame. Having no shame means spotting a sick-ass couch on the sidewalk and getting your roommate to drag it into your house. My apartment is 70 percent street furniture and 30 percent IKEA.
11. Mooch Off Free WiFi
This one is an oldie but a goodie. Not having WiFi is a bummer, but paying for WiFi is impossible when one is broke. That is why I join my fellow man in the nearest coffee shop and use those ground-coins I mentioned earlier to buy a cup of coffee. That way, they can't kick me out.
Do you know how expensive books are? Did you also know that you can get them for free at a local library? Crazy, but totally true. #Bless the human who came up with that beautiful house of books. They also have DVDs and CDs you can check out for a movie night or a road trip. Why pay for something at a Redbox when you can just pick one out fo' free?
13. Having Good Friends
Friends are great. I pick mine based on what internet subscription they pay for. I do double up on Hulu and HBO friends, because let's face it, if someone changes their login on you, it will be a whole ordeal. Having a backup means never having to have the awkward text — um, did you change your HBO Go Password by any chance?
14. Movie Popcorn Trick
This is the only one on this list I have never done myself. I did see this being done in person so it counts. Basically is goes like this:
You go to a movie, but you don't have money for popcorn. You go to the theater that just let out. (This part is gross, so I apologize in advance.) Go to the trashcan. Find a large popcorn someone threw out. Rip one of the bags sides. Walk to the concession stand and ask for a refill, but ask for a fresh bag because yours got ripped.
Boom. Free large popcorn.
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