The Mint Grad

Lifestyles of the fun and frugal

Photo of people at tableBetween studying hard for exams, applying for internships and thinking about your growing career, you deserve some fun.  All work and no play makes for a very boring college experience. Even if you have bigger dreams than your budget allows for, you can still have fun and live on the frugal side. Here are a few ideas to help reduce your spending:

Try your luck with potluck

Throwing a potluck gathering not only saves money, but is a convenient way to bring your friends together. Before grocery shopping, consider visiting coupon sites that can offer deals to trim down your expenses. If you want to create something with the ingredients you already have in your kitchen, there are an abundance of free apps with recipes and guides to get you started. Just check out the app store on your smart phone.

Feasting for the fun and frugal

Most major cities have a restaurant week during the slow season, allowing you to dine well on a discount. New York’s offers a three-course dinner for under $40. Another example is Florida’s Miami Spice which usually runs in the fall (also a time when student expenses are at their peak!). Check out your community’s tourism website to find out if there’s a restaurant week in your area.

Savings that hit home

So you’re a huge baseball fan but living in a new city, and cheap tickets seem completely out of reach. Don’t give up just yet – there are easy ways to lessen the cost of attending a ball game. Just plan ahead! For one, consider your transportation options. Find out if there are any game day shuttles that leave from nearby restaurants or establishments near you. Often these are free with purchase of a beverage. And while you’re at it, grab a bite to eat before the game or (if allowed) bring your own food and beverages along (anything’s cheaper than stadium food!) Finally, wait three days or so before the game to purchase tickets online. No promises here, but antsy ticket sellers will usually reduce the price of any unsold tickets as game day nears.

Clothing swap

Arrange a clothing swap party with your closest friends. You’ll get “like-new” clothes for free, while being kind to the environment! Remember to bring at least five of your best, clean, gently used or never-worn items. Sorry, but not sorry, trading your holey tennis shorts will not make you popular among your peers. To accommodate friends of diverse sizes, host other events dedicated to swapping household items or accessories like jewelry. If you don’t have friends you want to swap clothes with, check out and search “clothing swaps” to see if there are get-togethers near you.

Insider tip: Clothing swaps run by fashion bloggers will probably have the best goodies because they’re often gifted free goods.

Freebie freaks

Sampling goods before you buy them is smart money management. It’s one way to help you decide if you want to take the plunge and spend your hard-earned money on an item. A simple search online will give you more than a dozen sites dedicated to sharing samples of new products on the market. Also, find out if stores you frequently shop at offer free samples for ordering online.

Beauty bargains

Have a big interview coming up? Or, simply want to look fab for less? Beauty schools offer the same services as established salons but at a lower cost to you. The Aveda Institutes, for example, offer salon and spa treatments for a small fraction of retail. In some cases, the haircut is free if you let the trainee pick the style for you! Don’t worry too much about a rookie treating your tresses. The students perform the work under the watchful eye of professionals.


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