Now that you’re a college student, you have some degree of control over your money. However, you may find that no matter how much you budget, you might still end up not having as much cash as you’d like. Before you fire up Google (“How much for a black market kidney,” anyone?) research some easier (and legal) ways to make and save money on campus.
If you need something, someone on campus is usually selling it. Before you shell out cash for the newest edition of a textbook, peruse some buy/sell/trade groups to see if someone else is trying to get rid of it. Check out Free & For Sale, Columbia University Marketplace, or Buy | Sell | Trade at Barnard to buy from other students in the area. Perhaps a little more useful down the line in your college career is Off-Campus Housing/Move Out Sell. You’ll mostly see posts from people trying to sublet their apartment, but the page is still a pretty good marketplace if you’re trying to find some cheap furniture.
You can also use these groups to get rid of things that you have no use for. Bought a textbook for a class that you eventually dropped? Sell it. Have some clothes that you had to bring to college but now never wear? Sell ’em. You might have to haggle a bit with your classmates, but your wallet will thank you in the long run.
Study smart (no, not that kind of studying)
The Columbia Business School’s Behavioral Research Lab will often allow you to sign up to participate in studies in exchange for cash. Your role in the studies is usually really simple, like clicking a few buttons or filling out a survey. The most difficult study I participated in said I couldn’t eat for three hours before going there (it was a struggle). You get to sign up for your own time slots, and the time commitment usually ranges from anywhere as low as five minutes to an hour, so it’s a quick way to make a few dollars.
Outside of the Behavioral Research Lab, there are always other labs looking for test subjects. They’ll post flyers all around campus (usually in Lerner, Schermerhorn, the basement of Barnard Hall, Lower Level 1 of Diana, etc.), so keep your eyes peeled.
If you’re like me and not online shopping is unfathomable, you need to at least be a smart shopper. Most stores, from Forever 21 to Topshop, will offer some sort of student discount, so check out UNiDAYS to see if your favorite stores are included. Here are the ones you’re most likely to use:
- You can also get a free subscription to the Washington Post or the New York Times with your Columbia email. (Barnardigans, unfortunately the free NYTimes deal does not apply to you, but you can still get complete online access for just $4 a month.)
- When you’re ordering everything for your dorm in the beginning of the year, a six-month trial of Amazon Prime can come in handy.
- Get $200 off that new Mac you’re planning to purchase before NSOP.
This is just the tip of the iceberg though—see the full list of discounts your student ID can get you here.
The traditional job hunt
There are options for on-campus jobs, even if you don’t have work study in your financial aid package. A great resource to find those jobs (and jobs and internships in general) is LionSHARE for Columbia and NACELink for Barnard. If you only want to peruse jobs on campus, each portal gives you an option to filter out your search results.
If you’re not finding anything that suits your fancy on LionSHARE or NACELink, you can also check out the Facebook group Jobs & Internships. Students are always listening openings for undergrads, and though there’s no guarantee that 100 percent of these will be on-campus jobs, I’ve seen plenty of options for interning at the medical center, helping professors, tutoring kids in the Upper West Side, serving as a campus representative, and even working remotely on your computer from your dorm.
Other popular programs offered on campus include the Barnard Babysitting Agency (must be a BC student, sorry CC, SEAS, and GS-ers), the Barnard Bartending Agency (must be at least 18), and the Columbia Bartending Agency (must be at least 18).
Let’s face it: NYC can be an expensive city, but if you use your money smartly, your bank account will seriously thank you at the end of the year.
- Want to make some quick cash on campus? Here’s how.
- You know you’ll spend a decent amount of money on food, school supplies, etc., but what are some of the hidden costs that come with being a student in NYC?
- Need some helping setting up your college budget? Here are options for the frugal, semi-frugal, and high rollers.
Victoria Yang is a SEAS sophomore and Spectrum staff writer. She participates in studies at the Business School, so she doesn’t have to withdraw cash from an ATM. Contact her for her UNiDAYS referral link at firstname.lastname@example.org .