How To Have Fun On A Budget: 9 Life-Hacks For College Students

Pay-days don’t always line up with spring break, and Labor Day Weekend doesn’t always come with a stuffed wallet. Most college students know the struggle: you want to have fun, but your bank account isn’t having it. Look no further, because here are some budget-friendly ways to have fun!

Thrift-Store Shopping

Hand with painted nails rifling through shirts on hangers


Macklemore first suggested it in 2012, but seven years later, and thrift-shopping is still fun. Whether it’s the pleasure of buying an (admittedly hideous) orange shirt for 50 cents, or a cute black dress for a dollar, it doesn’t get more low-budget than hitting up your nearest thrift shop!

Crash Group Events

Dictionary definition of gatecrash


While this sounds morally ambiguous, most college groups- and even those outside- are always happy to see new faces at events. Whether it’s the Parkour Club’s social, or the Debate Club’s movie night- join in for some free fun. Who knows? You might even make some new friends along the way, or find someone in the same boat as you.

Old Theaters

Old cinema projector shining dramatically into fog


Try finding a small, cozy theatre that’s been around from the previous century. Chances are, it’ll be way cheaper than the cinema at the mall that everyone loves so much. What’s more, you’ll get to experience some old-world charm as you watch a movie in black and white.

Or, if that’s too much for you, click here for some ideas on how to save money at the movies!

Free Tours

Passengers on a tour bus listening attentively to a guide


Chances are you haven’t explored the city you go to college in. It’s unfortunate but most college students get too sucked up into campus life and the bubble that is college academics. By joining a free tour, you would be combatting the natural order of the college bubble, as well as enjoying yourself without spending any money! There are also ghost tours in some cities, although these are less likely to be free. They aren’t for the faint of heart, after all.


Bejeweled hand covering crystal ball


Contrary to popular belief, you don’t actually have to believe in psychics to visit one. Sometimes it’s fun just to visit a psychic, in the same way that it’s fun to take a personality quiz even though you know it’s probably inaccurate. Most psychics charge some money, but it’s relatively less expensive than, say, a night out on town.


Man's hands playing ukulele


While it’s only polite to drop a few coins into their waiting hats, buskers provide live – and for the most part, free – music. You can lay out a picnic blanket, bring some of your favorite snacks and just enjoy the show. If you’re musically inclined, you might even want to try busking yourself- and make some quick bucks while you’re having fun.


Blurred image of a woman in an art museum


Though some people would argue that museums are scarcely fun, there are different museums that cater to everyone. Whether it’s Ripley’s Believe It or Not, or Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, or The Museum of Sex (depending on where you live), there is a lot of fun to be had at museums. Not to mention that lovely student discount your college ID will likely bring you.

Rock Climbing with ClassPass

Little boy rock climbing


ClassPass is good for staying in shape, yes- but also for having fun. What’s more, the first two weeks are completely free! This means two weeks worth of rock-climbing, kickboxing, pilates- and most other forms of exercise you can think of- all for free! A pretty good deal, by most standards.

Cat Socializing

Two cats and two dogs peering over a white wall


Dog-walking is a common way to earn money, but if you’d like to spend some time with your furry friends- more specifically, your purring pals- without exerting yourself, volunteering at a cat shelter is likely to fulfill you. Many cat shelters required volunteers to “socialize” their cats- which intrinsically means playing with them, just with a few guidelines attached.

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