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Broke! A College Student's Guide to Getting by on Less

By Trent Anderson and Seppy Basili
Published by Kaplan
December 2003 [ ISBN: 0-7432-5210-1 ]
USD: $10.00 / CAD: $16.00
Buy it from: Booksense, Barnes & Noble or Borders/Amazon.

HelpingTeens Administration Reviews

Arrow Right Adam Marshall

First, this book is a nice size, like a Driver's Education handbook in Ontario (about one third of an 8 X 11 page) and about 250 pages in length. It has an appealing cartoon cover with money running around, flying, and students running after the money. At first glance inside the book, the writing is very easy to read as it's a nice font, size and spacing.

The book was set out very nicely, in a chronological order from before college, through college, to the end of college. It is a really well done book with a lot of good advice. Some of it is funny but true, and it’s always good to see how others have gone through the depths of being broke throughout college.

The book divides college life and brokenness up into 15 different categories that follow the chronological order. It starts out with the traditional ‘ask Mom and Dad for money’, but shows you an example of how to budget your cash, do your banking, and manage debt. It also shows you how to be cost-aware on the other regular items that you would need to do on a daily basis or weekly basis such as eating and entertainment.

For each section, there are some reference guidelines that have been picked out and sourced from different books/websites/articles that really make a lot of sense. They give you common knowledge items that everyone always seems to forget (things in terms of budgeting: Yes, even that coffee you bought at Tim Horton’s or Starbucks costs money… write it down, see how much you are actually spending on a monthly basis on just coffee). After each segment of guidelines, there are quotes from students and graduates relating to these guidelines and their personal experiences. This gives an added oomph as it’s personalized by many people. Granted some of the quotes from students and graduates go against the ‘guidelines’ but they are the personal experiences that that individual had. You always have to be the judge of what is best for you, as each individual has different relationships, needs, and methods of doing things.

This book I have already recommended to a few of my co-workers who are currently working almost fulltime hours while going to school here in Ontario (where the college tuition is MUCH less than the US because of Government Funding). Even though this book is based for the United States readers, its concepts are global and there are similar items in the other countries. I recommend this book for EVERYONE to read to learn how to budget, and learn the real value of the dollar (whatever currency you have). I was lucky enough to have my parents teach me the value of the dollar that this book didn’t really tell me much I didn’t know but it did teach me a couple of things. Everybody could learn from this book; it’s a short read but well worth it.

Arrow Right Forest Lambert

The transition of leaving your family security to an Independent college lifestyle is not an easy one for most of us, however, this guide can give you the little tricks that can make it less painful. The $10 that you will pay for this advice has the ability to save you many times this small fee.

"Broke" focuses on the life skills that make it possible to stretch what little money you may have by budgeting, banking smartly, learning how to acquire money in emergences, purchasing only what you need and not allowing others to impact what you do have.

This book is written by students, for students, using all the tricks, including begging when necessary, and the occasional made up story to encourage parents to donate as much as possible even if the money is not actually needed.

Eating is one of the many life skills discussed in this guide that can be inexpensive, if you have prepared yourself ahead of time by learning to cook and purchase basic foods, instead of eating out or buying prepared foods. "Broke" advise you to eat a lot of Top Ramen noodles, tuna, and loads of carbohydrates to fill you up and keep your brain active. They encourage you to buy beans, rice, peanut butter, very basic cheap foods that will keep you stocked up.

In conclusion, this guide can help you extend what little money you have at your disposal and teach you smart tricks that can help you get through tough times all of your life. It shows you that no matter how prepared you are there is always something unexpected that may be a detriment to your efforts, easing the worries associated with these unexpected "annoyances" is something that this book will help students accomplish well beyond their college years...

Arrow Right Publisher's Review

Want to know the secret to living on less while having a great time at college?

College Students Give You The Scoop On:

How to save money on housing and food -- Earning fast cash (legally of course!)
Managing a budget -- Scoring a great travel deal
And much more!

Benefit from their wisdom . . .

The best time to buy an airline ticket online is around 3 AM or 4 AM. This is when companies update their systems and lower prices on tickets that aren't selling.
--Junior, Biology, Carnegie Mellon University

Don't rely on the paycheck coming on Friday to cover a check you wrote on Tuesday.
--Senior, Biology, College of Charleston

And learn from their mistakes:

I didn't know how hard it is to get your landlord to give back your security deposit. Keep really good records and make sure you document damage already in the apartment or your landlord will stick you with it.
--Senior, Public Relations, Brigham Young University

A couple of classmates were stranded in Mexico because the travel agency "forgot" to mention that in the fine print it says that only airfare TO Mexico was included in the price, not the airfare FROM Mexico.
--Junior, History/Pre-Law, Ohio State University


The following is an excerpt from the book Broke!: A College Student's Guide to Getting by on Less

Credit Card Charges

You've heard the horror stories about college kids who have charged up huge credit card bills that they can't pay. Don't fall into the trap. Before you pull out the plastic to pay for a DVD player just ask yourself if you have the cash to back it up. If you don't, you could end up damaging your credit. Let's take a step back from the adrenaline rush of spending and examine the ins and outs of credit.

In addition to having the ability to buy things the minute you need them, credit cards offer several advantages:

  • "You don't have to carry cash.
  • A record of purchases is created.
  • It is more convenient than writing checks.
  • It helps you to establish a credit history, which is necessary for the future purchase of high-cost items (house, car, furniture, etc.)."

Students Say: Card Control

"My advice is to use the credit card once, then put it in a bag of water and freeze it, then get it out two months down the road and use it for gas or something you know that you can pay for, and freeze it again. This builds your credit history, but you don't have direct access to your card so you can't run up the bill."

--Senior, Spanish/Anthropology, University of South Dakota -- Vermillion

"Good credit has helped me with everything from getting utilities turned on in a speedy fashion to getting approved for my dream apartment. It was and continues to be totally worth the effort I put into it."

--Junior, Communications, Drexel University

"I have two credit cards in my name, though my parents are primary cardholders. I always pay my bill on time and it helps to build a credit history. Employers as well as lenders look at credit histories."

--Sophomore, Economics/History, Tufts University

Students Say: A Credit History Lesson

"I suggest all college students try to get at least one card in their name to help build credit. When you graduate and need to rent an apartment or buy a car it will give you some form of credit history. Just make sure to use it responsibly."

--Graduate, Communication and Culture, Indiana University -- Bloomington

"Realize that if you have a bad credit history, it will be difficult to make any major purchases -- such as that dream car. It's all about good credit . . . so don't get into any debt!"

--Junior, Biochemistry, Beloit College

"Always pay off your entire balance each month to insure you have a good credit rating when you graduate. Always pay on time and never leave a balance. My credit lines started out at $1,000 per card. They were up to about 10 grand total by the time I was done, and I had no problem getting an apartment in my name after graduation."

--Graduate, Hospitality Business, Michigan State University

"Good credit is better than having money in the bank because you can LIVE LIKE A RICH MAN AND PAY IT OFF LIKE A POOR MAN!!!"

--Senior, English Literature, St. Edward's University

When Good Credit Goes Bad

There's also the flip side to credit card spending -- when you start depending on credit to get by. Remember, there's no such thing as free money.

Know The Facts:

  • "83% of undergraduate students have at least one credit card.
  • The average credit-card balance for undergraduate students is $2,327.
  • Students double their average credit-card debt -- and triple the number of credit cards in their wallet -- from the time they arrive on campus until graduation."

"Undergraduate Students and Credit Cards: An Analysis of Usage Rates and Trends." Nellie Mae. April 2002.

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