College – U. Got It?

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cheap eats, cheap living at college dormsIt takes a dose of quirkiness and a healthy sense of humor to make it through college on a shoestring budget. But that kind of creativity will serve you well in your college years and beyond. Check out these offbeat ideas for surviving (and thriving!) in college on the cheap.

Hey Roomie… What’s for Dinner? (and Dessert)
Nothing says ‘Starving College Student’ quite like inexpensive and oddly satisfying Ramen noodles. But if you’re going to subsist on this starch whenever you run out of dining hall dollars, you’re going to have to get creative in your preparation. Fortunately, these noodles lend themselves to all sorts of interesting meals. The trick is to nix the flavor packet, which can turn a perfectly delicious food staple nasty in no time.

For dinner: Tequila lime Ramen

Pretend you’re soaking up the Mexican sun instead of the fluorescent lights of your dorm room. Here’s how: Boil ramen and drain. Slice a lime in half and squeeze over the ramen. Add a half-shot of tequila and a few red pepper flakes, and voila – a feast fit for a real Tequila Sunrise.

For dessert: Chocolate Ramen
Need a serious sugar fix? Boil ramen in 2 cups of water, with a cup of brown sugar added. Pour off most of the water and then stir in a teaspoon of vanilla and a cup of chocolate syrup. Pour onto a serving plate and sprinkle powdered sugar over it. Garnish with whipped cream if you really want to get your heart racing.

Where Are We Going Tonight?
The college dating scene is everything you hoped it would be. There’s just one question: how are you going to afford it? Enter creative dating — a great way to save money and have fun at the same time.

Bootleg shopping spree
Here’s the idea: Go shopping and see who can find the weirdest, tackiest, cheapest item for the other person. I actually know a couple who used to do this. Granted, there wasn’t much else to do where they lived in Minnesota, so their exciting Saturday nights consisted of hitting up the local Walmart, setting a time limit, and running through the store right before closing to find each other a wacky treasure for under $5. Hey, they’re happily married today, so who’s to judge?

Make a wish
This is the ultimate cheap but fun get-to-know-you kind of date. Grab a roll of pennies (if you don’t have some on hand, get a roll from the bank) and bring them and your date to a nearby fountain. Take turns tossing pennies in the water, but here’s the catch — you have to say your wishes out loud. Get ready to get personal (or just plain old silly)!

Just add pajamas
Whatever you’ve got planned — matinee movie, kite flying, finger painting, etc. — do it in your PJs (think cute and cozy rather than sexy and sultry for this one). Not only do pajamas add instant goofiness to your activity, they could even make your outing cheaper. Some Color Me Mine locations offer a discount for pajama wearers; there’s even a restaurant in New Jersey where employees wear their PJs, and customers who are similarly attired get a pajama discount.


Where’d You Get That?!
When you’re forced to fit all your worldly possessions into a 200-square-foot dorm room (shared with a roommate), it’s tough to make the cramped space feel like home. Try one of these wacky, budget-conscious product picks to amp up the fun factor and deck out your dorm room in style.

Let’s do the time warp again

You need to get to class on time, but why rely on a boring old clock when you could get one that melts? The Time Warp Clock is reminiscent of The Persistence of Memory, that famous Salvador Dali painting filled with liquefying clocks (what, you haven’t taken Art History yet?). It’s a great talking point for anyone who ventures into the surreal landscape known as your dorm room. ($12.99,

Don’t call the cops

Make sure your next house party is a rager by adding a blue or green rotating Police Light to your décor. Or if you’re just looking to liven up your study sessions, you can use the colorful light in place of a traditional dorm lamp. We promise not to notify the authorities. ($13.79,


Eat your heart out

How many times have your parents told you not to eat in bed? Now you can have all the delicious treats your heart desires by curling up with a Yummy Pillow. Choose from Ice Cream Sandwich, Cupcake, Pizza, or Sushi to add a splash of color and fun to your dorm room. Guaranteed to give you sweet dreams. ($18.95,




Robyn Tellefsen

Robyn Tellefsen is an NYC-based freelance writer and editor who specializes in career education. In addition to writing for The CollegeBound Network and Employment Network's suite of sites, she provides proofreading and copyediting services for various publishing companies. She has a bachelor's degree in communications from Wheaton College (IL).

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