The broke college student stereotype exists for a reason. Classes and homework leave little time for a job, so we are forced to get through the year on last summer’s savings. After textbooks and school supplies, and for upperclassmen, rent and food, funds are stretched thin. With such a small budget leftover for fun and entertainment, it’s critical that you spend every dollar wisely. Just think, that $4 pumpkin spice latte could have been a $4 meal of McDonald’s hashbrowns instead.
So to help you get the most bang for your buck, here are four tips to help you have fun in Milwaukee on a budget:
Don’t spend money on transportation –
Life is about the journey, not the destination. But when you’re journeying off campus for a good time, you should spend as little as possible on getting there. Having a car can be convenient, but gas and parking expenses add up. Throw in a couple of parking tickets (I’m approaching double digits this semester), and you’ll realize just how costly your car is compared to alternative transportation methods.
Walking is always the cheapest option because it’s always free. If your destination isn’t too far and temperatures aren’t in the polar vortex region yet, going for a walk is your best bet.
Taking the bus is another cost-efficient option. The U-Pass allows students unlimited bus rides at any hour. It isn’t technically free — its cost is included in your tuition and fees, meaning you’ve already paid for it — so you might as well get your money’s worth. Just make sure you plan your trip ahead of time so you know where to get off or transfer.
Take advantage of food and drink specials –
Whether you’re a freshman looking for an alternative to McCormick pizza or a senior going out for drinks, knowing Milwaukee’s best food and drink specials will save you a lot of money. You can find some of these deals on campus, like Papa John’s $5 large one-topping pizzas on Tuesdays, or $5 Miller/Coors pitchers at Sobelman’s every day of the week. If you’re willing to go a little further, (hopefully using the transportation methods discussed above), try $2 Tuesdays and Thursdays at Belair Cantina. Select beers and tacos are only $2. Note: this one can still be expensive if you order enough tacos and beer.
Use the student discounts –
Student discounts are not limited to food and drinks. Milwaukee offers students deals on a plethora of items and activities. These discounts include, but are not limited to: reduced admission at the Milwaukee Public Museum, discounted Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra tickets, and 10-20% off at various retail stores within Mayfair, Bayshore and Brookfield Square malls.
Find the free stuff –
Of course the best way to have fun on a budget is to do things that don’t cost a penny. You can’t go wrong with a night in to watch a game or movie, but Milwaukee also offers plenty of free events and activities. All you need to do is show up.
Bastille Days, Brady Street Festival and Locust Street Festival of Music and Arts are just a few of the free events in Milwaukee’s diverse lineup.
There are also plenty of free concerts, like Jazz in the Park every Thursday evening during the summer in Cathedral Square Park.
Hopefully this guide helps you stretch your entertainment budget a little further. If you’re really looking to save money however, your best bet is to head to the library and study because you truly cannot put a price on knowledge. Or, just go to Belair on a Tuesday because they DID put a price on tacos, and it’s only $2.