Anderson: Finding free fun

A good time doesn’t have to cost you anything

Here we are, in our first week of the winter semester. Many of us are waiting, but not for new expe­riences, challenges or a fresh start at a new semester. We are wait­ing for our student loans, or “free money” as some people see them.

I’ll admit, I fell into this allur­ing trap in my first year. Instantly I had several thousand dollars at my disposal. Obviously I paid my fees and made sure my housing was taken care of. But, there it was, an extra $2,000 or so. Do I have any­thing to show for it now? Maybe a bit of the “freshman fifteen” that seems to have lingered far longer than the money.

I spent it on exactly what you can imagine, food, going out, clothes, all disposable things. I should’ve just tossed that money into the trash. Sure, it was fun, but at what cost? Five per cent interest plus prime? I do not have a shad­ow of a clue of what that means.

Taking the leftover funding and putting it towards the loan right away is a grand idea, but how often do you think it actually happens? There are always a million reasons not to do something and when friends are knocking at your door, beckoning you to go out. They usually win over the responsible alternative.

A little can go a long way. No need to break the bank to have a fun and exciting outing. (Kim Anderdson/The Omega)

A little can go a long way. No need to break the bank to have a fun and exciting outing. (Kim Anderdson/The Omega)

After my second year I knew I had to shift my lifestyle and pri­orities. By holding two jobs, I somehow managed to fund this year and last on my own, without any loans. It’s come at a cost. I’ve lost any semblance of a normal sleep schedule, and by the end of the semester, the few conversa­tions I have are usually sharp and short. But I don’t have the burden of guilt that I’m wasting borrowed money. I only have to live with the manageable amount of anxiety over the sum I already owe. With no way to bail myself out of finan­cial trouble, I’ve had to adjust my spending habits accordingly.

The most significant lesson I’ve learned by ditching the student loans and becoming financially in­dependent is how to find free fun. Having a good time doesn’t have to mean spending all your grocery money. Katy Perry commends kids for buying bottle service with their rent money, but please don’t listen to her. I’ll wager she never has to worry about being late on rent, at any of her houses.

We get caught in a poisonous trap of thinking that fun has to cost money. Or perhaps it’s just that our free time is so scarce and in-between, when the opportunity arises, we are down for whatev­er, without a second thought. We shouldn’t be looking at fun as a commodity that can be purchased. Often we allow modern day con­sumerism and spending habits to dictate how we spend our free time. If we only have one evening off, we scramble to find a way to spend it and, coincidentally our money, however little of it we may have.

Everything about being a stu­dent is expensive. For as long as you are at TRU, you should take advantage of all the free or dis­counted things you get just for be­ing a student.

TRU recreation holds free weekly fitness activities as well as an awesome and organized intra­murals program that works out to only being a few dollars per week. TRUSU sells blazers tickets for $5.00 a piece – a steal, as the gen­eral admission price is $25.00.

If sports aren’t your thing, the Kamloops Art Gallery is free on Thursdays. As for movies, the Cineplex theatre in Aberdeen has its discount night with general ad­mission at $6.50 on Tuesday. The Paramount theatre downtown has $3.50 movies on Tuesday and $5.00 matinees all week.

If you’re after more of a bar at­mosphere, many pubs and bars of­fer free pool on certain nights and weekly drink specials for students.

Beyond that, sometimes all it takes is a quick look at the bul­letin boards on campus. TRUSU and other campus clubs are always holding free events, which usually have free food!

The winter season does make spending time outdoors more dif­ficult, but not impossible. There’s nothing like a good old-fash­ioned snowball fight to make you and your friends feel alive (and perhaps a bit frightened of you). Most trails and parks like Ken­na Cartwright and Riverside are open, as long as you’re willing to trek through some snow. Kam­loops boasts several outdoor skat­ing rinks that are obviously the most Canadian way to spend time outdoors (a full list can be found on the Tourism Kamloops web­site).

Creativity and thinking beyond the norm are both vital in being able to manage your finances and fulfill your social needs. Just be­cause every movie about college features drinking to excess, going out to eat and living like the bill will never come, it doesn’t mean we have to live that way.

Society, for some reason, has given students a free pass to be financially irresponsible for the sole reason that “these are the best times of your life,” “you’re only young once” (I refuse to use the acronym), and my favourite, “that’s just what college kids do!”

All of those excuses are belit­tling our intelligence and thus postponing our maturity and fi­nancial independence. Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t fall into the trap of blowing funds like you live in a never-ending forest of money trees. Take control of your habits now. Absolutely take advantage of all the perks, freebies and dis­counts you get as a student, be­cause they exist and we might as well use them.

But, I implore everyone to ex­amine your spending habits. I mean, take a good look at them. The moment we realize that we are capable of creating our own experiences and making our own fun, we will be free to step outside the prescribed boundaries of the price of leisure today.

Experiences and true connec­tions cannot be manufactured, bought or sold. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line we were fooled into thinking they can be.