Bateman: Savings tips for the corduroy capri-minded

By Oliver Bateman

In those funny, bone-jostling hot college comedies, the excitement never ends. Gorgeous teens… In those funny, bone-jostling hot college comedies, the excitement never ends. Gorgeous teens engage in glamorous fun, and even the nerdiest dweebs have a steady supply of fresh apple pies to hump. The reality for many college students is quite different, however, as all of this glamorous fun comes at a steep price. If you’re looking to afford the iPhones, American Apparel unisex corduroy capris, Starbury-brand sneakers and single malt Scotches required to win the affection of the in-crowd, you’re going to need to learn to manage on a low budget, especially if budget cut-induced tuition increases take place next year. What follows, then, are some can’t-miss budgeting tips that will allow you to live the most baller and bling-filled life this side of whatever hip-hop club happens to be hosting “My Humps” chanteuse Fergie.

Never pay for toilet paper.

When you enter the stall in a public restroom, do you pay careful attention to the design of the toilet paper dispenser? You should: Most dispensers don’t have locks, and the ones that do can be popped open pretty easily. Once you’ve slipped the complimentary TP into your attractive handbag or man-purse — yet another reason to carry one of these little beauties around, in addition to looking fly and au courant — you can take it home and single-ply it, thus creating two usable rolls out of one. If you’re looking to get a head start on paying off those student loans, you can make the TP go even further by hanging used squares over the towel rack to dry out.

Condiments are everywhere. Most people seem to think that the condiments left out at our best fast food restaurants are intended only for diners. If you’re a low-budget superstar, though, you know better than this. Just whip out that handbag/man-purse/messenger bag and fill it to bursting with Splendas, ketchups, yellow mustards, salt packets, sliced lemons and all of the other trifles that taste great on a freshly microwaved set of Bar-S Classic Franks (a regional delicacy that’s available for less than 99 cents at most discriminating retailers).

Once you buy a fountain drink, make the most of it.

For reasons that escape us, many restaurant patrons purchase a “Big Gulp” or “Grande Gulp” drink and then fail to refill it. This, friends, is the kind of bad business practice that brought down reputable companies like Enron and Bear Stearns. Once you gain access to free and potentially endless refills, you need to milk that fountain’s carbonation-supplying teat for every ounce of fluid that your bladder can contain. If you’re particularly ambitious, you can bring your laptop to the 7-Eleven and do your homework, replenishing your body’s supply of life-giving Sprite the second that you fell the least bit thirsty. In addition to super-charging your brain with a high dose of sugar, this kind of empty carbo-loading is perfect for “hardgainers” looking to double their “freshman 15.”

Avoid razors and hair salons. What do personalities like religious pitchman Jesus Christ, counterculture legend Wavy Gravy, champion streetballer Adam Morrison and hometown hero Brett Keisel have in common? If you guessed that they didn’t waste money on frivolous things like personal grooming, you’re well on your way to saving enough money to afford dozens of cases of Yuengling Black & Tan. Wild hair will pay for itself, too. Employers prefer workers who can think outside the box, and nothing says “visionary genius iconoclast” quite like an ankle-length beard that’s stained with ketchup, sticky with Sprite and filled with the residue of a hearty breakfast of Bar-S Classic Franks.

Why pay to wash your laundry when you can just spray it with Febreze?

Sure, you can be like all those other chumps and dump your hard-earned quarters into a bunch of loud, rusty washers and dryers. Or you can be a budget champion and invest in a single bottle of Febreze. One well-placed squirt from this miracle substance turns any old rag that’s reeking of marijuana and sexual activity into a delightful, fresh-from-the-garden garment. But do conserve those squirts, as the retail value of a bottle of Febreze ranges from $3 to $5. If you’re strapped for cash, just go to a dollar store and purchase a generic can of disinfectant spray. It works almost as well, and it’s probably not as bad for the environment as you think.

“School’s cool if you’re a tool or a fool.”

Do you know what costs nearly a million bucks and is even more boring than an hour of C-SPAN? Your textbooks! Those heavy old things — which almost always come bundled with useless CDs that try to install trial versions of Adobe Acrobat on your computer even if you’ve already got the full version — are about as helpful as a vintage copy of the 1986 Mon Valley Yellow Pages.

Instead of spending your student loan Benjamins on these fusty relics, just Wikipedia the pertinent facts and make educated guesstimates about the rest. After all, do you really need a textbook to tell you that Alexander Graham Bell invented the gramophone or that AOL Instant Messenger was first employed by code breakers during World War II?

Follow these simple rules, and you’re sure to have some extra megabucks to invest in worthless consumer goods. Just keep sweating the small stuff, refilling your “Grande Gulp” Sprite, hoarding your aluminum cans (enjoy the accompanying swarms of gnats; they add character) and living la vida parsimonious. However, if our methods prove a bit too ambitious, sleep it off — in addition to being awesome, all-natural and organic, R&R is completely free!

Oliver Lee Bateman is the vice president in charge of super-couponing at the Moustache Savings & Great Values Club of America. Check out all of our cheap-as-free flash fictions at