Have fun, on a budget - Metro US

Have fun, on a budget

Even bookworms need to have fun sometimes, but there’s just one problem for most entertainment-starved students: lack of cash.

Fear not, for while your personal finances might elicit a poorly disguised giggle from the bank teller, you can still have plenty of fun for a dime with these tips below.

Bag it ’n’ bring it

Picnics are killer for social fun and they’re cheap as all heck, plus you can do them just about anywhere. Head to the park with friends and a guitar for a midday soiree, or camp out in your college quad for some after-class fun with snacks and bevvies. Great for a romantic option on the cheap too.

The play’s the thing

Live theatre can be quite cheap for students, with tickets often going for half the price of regular seats. Check out your campus theatre especially — you can often find some good shows for about $5-$8. Students in Ottawa and Calgary take note: the National Arts Centre offers unsold tickets to professional shows for $11 to students. In Toronto, hipTIX offers performing arts tickets for $5 to students as well.

Cinema de couch

For some students, the DVD player can become like a second mother — and for good reason. Rentals are cheap, or free if you borrow a disc from a friend, and a big TV can let plenty of people watch. Theme nights can be a blast (’70s horror? Comedies starting with the letter ‘A’? Schwarzenegger?) and microwave popcorn costs next to nothing.

Get active

Most campuses have rec centres that you’ve already paid for a membership to (remember all those brutal fees?) so get moving! Join an intramural team for active, social fun or get people together for a group workout. A scenic bike ride around town offers free travel and exploration too.

Chat it out

Round up some like-minded people for a regular coffee’n’chat session. Hip coffee shops are usually in abundance around campus and even ultra-expensive coffee usually maxes out at about $4, meaning you can debate vampire lore to your heart’s content without having to spend much. Make it a weekly thing and switch topics regularly to keep things fresh.


Not only is volunteering a great experience, it costs you only time and you’ll often get fed for free. It’s also a much underrated date option if you volunteer together — you’ll get to know each other’s real personalities a lot quicker when you’re interacting with people in a helping scenario.

Where to get good stuff — for free!

There is one universal price all students can agree on, and that price is FREE.

Free stuff is the holy grail of just about any student’s financially challenged life and finding great giveaways is not necessarily as hard as you might think. Here are a few places you can look:

• Craigslist.org. Yes, there is a “Free” section on this now-ubiquitous site, which has branches in dozens of Canadian cities and yes, people who post here really are giving their used stuff away for nothing. Furniture tops the list of worthwhile items that you can often get for free, but books and appliances are popular giveaways too. An example of some recent giveaways in the Toronto area: 50” rear-projection TV, and a set of bookcases.

• RedFlagDeals.com. A popular site that screens free online offers to make sure they are legit. Just about anything might pop up here, but keep in mind that for most free offerings, you’ll be expected to sign up to a site or fill out a survey (usually mentioned in the item’s posting). An example of some recent giveaways: a Vancouver Canucks fan pack, and an IT certification study guide.

• Totallyfreestuff.com. Solid site that offers plenty of vetted Canadian deals. Similar situation to RedFlagDeals with signing up/survey-filling. Example of recent freebies: teeth whitening package, and a free MP3 download of your choice from Amazon.com.

• Canadianfreestuff.com. Smaller list of free postings, but it has a huge forum where freebie-seekers trade tips, tricks and freebie leads they have already vetted themselves. Great user-written guides on hunting free stuff too. Recent forum postings: free Quaker Oats granola bars, and a free vegan starter kit.

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