Most college-aged people do not have unlimited funds. In fact, I’m willing to bet a significant amount of you are like me and hold your breath before you check your bank statement, knowing you blew every penny of your babysitting money on function t-shirts and
excessive mimosas overpriced brunch. I find myself in dressing rooms thinking, “If I don’t eat lunch for four days I can buy this dress” way more often than I care to admit. Being on a budget may not be a TSM, but it’s a reality. Because of this reality, one must consider where to invest and where to save.
There are times when quality matters…
Whiskey: Have you ever tasted bottom shelf bourbon or scotch? It’s worse than flat, warm Diet Coke. Cheap alcohol is a glorious part of college, so drink your $9.99 double bottles of Moscato, your Natty, and your $1 vodka sodas. But when it comes to whiskey, buy the good stuff.
Foundation: You literally paint this stuff on your face. This is not the time to meander down the aisles of Target and arbitrarily select a product. As a pale, freckle-faced freshman, one of the best things my big did for me was drag me into a makeup store and show me the magic of a high quality foundation.
Vibrators: A high quality vibrator will change your life. Show me a girl who has better orgasms during sex and I’ll show you a liar, or the owner of a cheap vibrator. Don’t hand over control of your sexual pleasure to some 20-year-old guy you met at a party who considers himself God’s gift to the vagina after losing it to his high school girlfriend on Prom night. Crossing your fingers, praying to Carrie Bradshaw, or hoping “maybe this time!” won’t land you the big O, but a nice vibrator will. So get a few sisters together, go to the nearest sex toy shop, laugh at the ridiculous products, send a few inappropriate Snapchats, and treat yourself to a rechargeable new best friend.
Trips: Is your school playing in a bowl game? You should be there. Spring break? Book a hotel room with friends, agree to split gas, and go somewhere. You’re spending money on experience, memories, and crazy stories you’ll still tell 50 years later. Pretty soon you’re going to be spending money on rent, utilities, business clothes, and Xanax; make good memories while you can.
Dues: When it comes to paying dues, the quality is up to you. You’re paying the same amount as every other girl, but it’s your choice if you’re going to make it worth it. I know people who try to get excused from every single event, workshop, and chapter meeting. They don’t even go to mixers or date parties, and I think “WHY?” If you’re going to pay dues to be a part of something, be a part of it. Every semester I dread paying dues. It’s probably the single biggest all-at-once drain on my bank account, but every semester, I pay them because the memories, the satisfaction that comes from working hard for a philanthropy, the tailgates, the Greek Week skits, and the opportunities are priceless.
There are also times when you can shoot for the least expensive option and it doesn’t matter at all.
Formal Dresses: So, I wore a dress from Forever 21 to my sorority’s spring formal last year. It was floor length, gorgeous, and simple. It fit me perfectly and cost less than the fine for missing chapter. I wasn’t worried about spilling on it, and when a sister’s date sloshed his beer on me I was able to laugh it off and keep dancing. After the formal, I switched to flat shoes and made my usual rounds. The hem of the dress was black from bar nastiness by the end of the night, but it didn’t matter. Formal is all about the experience, so don’t spend a ton of money on a dress that will inhibit your amazing time.
Going Out Clothes: The same goes for the clothes you wear to bars. H&M and Forever 21 were created for this exact purpose–they practically make disposable clothing. These clothes are great because they can get spilled on, used as a tissue by your crying roommate, or slept in. It also doesn’t matter if they’re nowhere to be found the next morning.
Mascara: I like to pretend to be an expert on lots of things, but if there is one thing I know to be true, it’s this: expensive mascara is no better than the cheap kind. I’ve tried high-end stuff from Sephora and just about every prettily packaged option available at Target. They’re all the same. Pick one knowing that it truly doesn’t matter, and that you can now put that $30 you just saved towards an expensive vibrator.
Vodka: Lets be honest, you’re putting so much fruity crap into your vodka it could actually be nail polish remover and you wouldn’t notice. This is America, not Russia; no one here casually sips vodka and discusses its qualities. When that plastic bottle of Burnetts is cracked open, you’re only thinking about getting star-spangled hammered.
Coolers: Buy the cheapest, biggest one and paint it to the best of your ability with the least expensive paint you can find, knowing it’ll eventually get absolutely destroyed. Don’t be one of those girls who cries or shrieks at her date, “DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH TIME AND MONEY I SPENT ON THAT?” when her masterpiece gets chucked into a bonfire or off a balcony. Just don’t. It’s not cute.
I’m egregiously under-qualified to give anyone financial advice, but I’ve never let lack of qualification stop be from sharing my opinion before. The moral of the story is clothes get ruined, vodka disappears, and coolers get destroyed, but your college memories will last. Make them good ones.