4 Ways that Students Can Get Active for Free (Or Cheap)

Being fit is an important part of life. There are many benefits to exercise, including (but not limited to of course) increased happiness, decreased chances of disease and depression, a healthier mind, better memory, and even more energy.

As a student, all of these benefits to exercising are important. If you are an American student, the health benefits will save you a lot of money on healthcare. Regardless of what country you come from, more energy and increased memory is never a bad thing.

free workouts for students

get outdoors!

I am very interested in fitness and cardiovascular health. I always have been and likely always will be. Perhaps as a result of my interest, I have been able to scope out the some awesome, free (or really, really cheap) methods of exercising and working out as a student.

1. The School Gym

Does your school have a gym? You may be surprised as to what the answer to that question is, if you aren’t sure. My school has a gym and it’s free for students. We have to pay a $10 refundable deposit at the beginning for our gym swipe card, but other than that it is free of charge.

The gym isn’t bad, and it’s not very busy either. You can get a good workout with the school gym.

2. School Sports

School sports are a great way to get some exercise, and there are additional benefits such as getting to know your peers and sometimes it’s even good on your resume to play sports.

School sports are usually cheap to play, and you don’t have to be in the most competitive of leagues to still get active and have fun.

3. Beer Leagues

These types of leagues are probably not the most active as far as sports go, but if you don’t want to join the school sport you can start a beer league with your friends to get out there and get active.

Beer leagues are really fun and not so serious. They are pretty much free!

4. Getting Outdoors

There is a lot of personal finance advice out there about getting outdoors and cancelling your gym membership – I don’t see the point in cancelling a gym membership if it is pretty much free anyhow, but it’s always good to get outdoors to get your blood moving and heart rate up. Outdoor activity can be very relaxing and pleasing and it’s 100% free, so why not take advantage of the months that are nicer in weather.


Students need to get more active to have more success in school. Taking advantage of at least one of the above four methods of activity and exercise can go a long way into providing a better life for students.

Do you/did you partake in free workouts as a student? What did you do to get active?

How to Negotiate Your First Job’s Salary

You might think that just getting the job is the hardest part of the interview process — but you may be wrong. Once you get the offer, you’ve still got to negotiate the terms of your hire and the salary that comes with it. And if you aren’t prepared, you might make a huge mistake.

negotiate first job salary

image from psychologytoday.com

Your first job offer is exciting, terrifying, and a great lesson: you’re in the real world now, and you’ll only get what you ask for. While it’s tempting to just secure the first job you can, try to have patience with the process and research your industry so you know what you’re worth.

Get them to say the first number

The first and most well-known tip is to get the other party to say the first number. Even if you know what number you’re looking for, speaking before they do means you might leave money on the table.

Traditionally, the “loser” is the one who says a number first, even though the HR manager will likely ask you for your ideal salary. Instead of giving up right away, practice answering the salary question with something polite and firm such as, “I am in a position to be flexible, so can you tell me more about your budget?”.

Always negotiate

When it comes time to discuss the position offer and the salary that comes with it, it’s important to take your time. While it may seem exciting, or they may say the right number, always take time to negotiate your first offer.

Instead of saying yes or no on the spot, ask for 24 hours or a long weekend to think it over, then come back with another number that would make you very happy. Odds are they’ll negotiation again and you’ll end up happily in the middle.

Don’t accept a “for now” number

It’s always better to start your career with a high number — almost every job you take in the future will be based on the first salary you receive. Even if you’re relieved to have an offer, try not to jump on the first job that offers if it’s nowhere near your goal salary.

Think of it this way: if your salary only jumps 10-15% at a time each time you change careers or jobs, it will take you a long time to reach your income goals.

How did you negotiate your first salary? Did it work out?

Do Students Need an Emergency Fund?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about how much easier it is to be frugal as a student. It’s also usually the case that students live on substantially less than a person who is already in the working world.

Even so, emergencies do pop up for students from time to time. Even if students don’t have a car, they can have transportation emergencies. One time (murphy’s law) my bus actually rolled over into a ditch on it’s way to the stop that I was at. The transit company had to dispatch another bus but it was late by about half an hour. This would have made me late for a final exam, and if you are late, they don’t let you take the exam. I had to take a $60 taxi ride to the school.

do students need an emergency fund

from http://www.flickr.com/photos/mhxbhd

While $60 isn’t enough to be considered an emergency for me, think about if your flight was cancelled the evening before a final, or another important exam. The next one isn’t until the morning, during the time your exam is to be taken. You’ll need an emergency fund in that situation.

I would say that students do need an emergency fund, and here’s why:

Avoid Going Into Debt

Debt is the root of all Western evil (ok maybe I’m exaggerating), and if you don’t have an emergency fund as a student you could end up having to go into debt to pay for the damage of the emergency.

If you are anything like me, you are making every effort possible to graduate without debt. Why put that in jeopardy? Having an emergency fund as a student will pad your account and you are less likely to have to go into debt or rely on student loans for your next semester.

Peace of Mind

Like I guess anybody would like, and probably one of the biggest reasons to have an emergency fund no matter whether you are a student or a working person, peace of mind is a huge reason why everyone should have an emergency fund. With an emergency fund at least you know that you have the cost of it covered if something came up.

The ability to sleep soundly if something came up is important.

Making You Interest

Depending on where you keep your emergency fund, you can make yourself some nice interest on the savings. If you do have an emergency, you won’t have to pay interest on a credit card if you use your emergency.

Might as well take advantage of extra income any way you can.


I can’t imagine life without my emergency fund. Because students live on less, generally, you can have less of an emergency fund. If you travel a lot, have a larger one, but if you are just ensuring that you can get through minor domestic/educational emergencies then you can generally have about half of the emergency fund that people always tell normal people they need (3-6 months of income).

Students – get an emergency fund! As a student did you /do you have an EF or no?

Budgeting an Irregular College Income

One of the most difficult part about college income is that you have a budget that’s irregular. In most jobs, you get paid on a particular day of the month and you can expect a paycheck on a given day. Some people receive their paychecks monthly. Some people receive their paychecks twice a week or every other week.

irregular budgeting

image via hrbaportal.org

When you’re in college, however, your paycheck comes whatever you can find money. Perhaps you have a part time job. Maybe you have income from investments or other passive income. Perhaps you receive student loans. Regardless of how you receive your money it will take you a while to figure out how to budget it correctly.

Create a Budget, Even Without a Set Income

Even though you don’t know how much money you’ll be making, you still need to have a budget. The trick is that you just don’t know how much to budget for.

The solution? Create the amount you budget with.

Figure out the minimum amount of income you receive each month and use that as your basis for budgeting. Budget your important bills and expenses based on this amount. Any excess you have will then go to other payments or other expenses — the more you make, the more you can pay for.

Organize Your Accounts

Irregular incomes require organization and consistency. This applies to paperwork around the home, but also your banking accounts. You’ll want to have separate accounts for long-term savings, short-term savings, and checking and daily activities. With an irregular income in college, you’ll need a more heavily padded savings account to make it through lulls in income. Having a small short-term savings will help you avoid using your large long-term savings for things that aren’t emergencies.

Make Tough Decisions About What’s Really Necessary

Another difficult decision about money in college is deciding which opportunities come up that you want to take and that you can afford to take. The answer is to decide in advance what is a necessity and what is not a necessity.

Paying for housing costs like rent and utilities are necessities, and food is a necessity. A fun trip outside the country which a faraway place? Not a necessity. Bonding with new friend by going out for drinks or spending time together is a necessity. But spending a lot of money shopping together or eating in places outside your budget? Not necessities. Make those hard decisions in advance so that you can protect your budget when you go outside

Budgeting on an irregular income doesn’t have to be difficult, if you know how to do it. How do you budget, if your income is irregular?