Alphabet Coup

The A-Z College Guide to Making Easy Dough

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"Fall" and "broke" just go together, don't they? You fall, you done broke an arm. Civilizations fall when a society's collective morality goes bankrupt, which is a dressed-up accountant's term for broke.

And, of course, school starts up in the fall, and sure enough you wind up broke quicker than you can say "overpriced textbooks."

You could dial 1-800-CALL-MOMMY and hit up the folks for cash, but trust us, you won't be able to rely on the parental units forever. Might as well face it now. College is about lots of things, one of them being independence. That's a frightening word to some ears, but once you've embraced the liberating qualities of independence, you will swear off raiding dad's wallet once and for all.

Think about it: If they're not footing the bill for your every half-baked plan, road trip during midterms, drinking binge, Mom and Dad have less and less psychological leverage on your life. As Jenna Bush says, "Man, can't I score a fake I.D., get sloppy drunk and for once in my short, easy life not have to hear it from Daddy? By the way, watch your shoes, I think I'm going to puke now."

You want to major in psychology, sociology or — God help your broke-ass, contemplative soul — philosophy, it's your business. Telling you how to survive is ours.

When you take your seat in your Survey of Poststructuralism 101 class, take a look around you. About half your fellow students will not be at the party Friday night because they will have sought gainful employment. But not you. You will have scraped by using nothing but chutzpah, gumption and chicanery. Your soul is not for sale to The Man! (That comes after college.)

Open your mind, and other people's wallets will follow.

Beware, though. The road to easy money may lead you to getting scammed yourself. After all, physics or biology or something tells us that like attracts like. Because once you leave the free-and-reduced program at public school, there ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

In this spirit, we submit the A-Zs of surviving college, in the truest sense.

A is for Ask Mom and Dad. Never mind what we said in the introduction. You'd be a fool not to hit up Mom and Dad. It's your job to innocently fall in that well and remain stuck there as long as possible.

Trade Secret: "I didn't ask to be born!"

The Drawback: "You were an accident."

Borrow from rich friends. That's "borrow" in the sense of "Can I borrow a sheet of paper?" which translates to "Give me paper, and go fuck yourself." The kid in your dorm driving the BMW is a good target.

Trade Secret: Maintain a balance between sycophant and psycho. "Edginess" is key to keeping these people interested.

The Drawback: Pretending you can stand this turd.

Check sofa cushions and car seats. Change can really add up, so don't discount its value. And if you've never looked for spare change in other people's cars then you've never been truly impoverished.

Trade secret: Vigilance. Every cushion, every seat, every time.

The drawback: Pennies smell weird.

Dares. Anything you're willing to do that other people don't think you will (fake orgasms, let someone punch you) is worth money. Think of it as Truth or Dare sans truth, plus cash.

Trade secret: Dares are all about humiliation. The more you squirm over whatever stunt your buddies have concocted, the more they'll pay you to go through with it.

The drawback: Let's just say that no matter what stunt you perform, before you do, make sure someone's sober enough to dial 911.

Empties. After you wake up all cakey from an interminable party night, quickly gather all the empty aluminum cola (wink wink) cans. Aluminum Recycling Corp. (813-350-0487) pays 25 cents a pound, but that figure jumps up to 30 cents per pound if you bring in more than 100 pounds. Located at 5602 N. Armenia Ave., two blocks north of Hillsborough Avenue.

Trade Secret: It's easier to move the cans if they're crushed, yo.

The Drawback: 25 cents a pound.

Finance something you own. If you're not afraid to lose your car (or other assets) to the bank, then consider taking out a loan.

Trade secret: When you visit the bank, don't dress like you just came from the pawn shop.

The drawback: Banks hold a power greater than that of knee-capping loansharks — they determine your credit rating.

Give plasma. Sera-Tec Plasma Center, 534 Cleveland St., downtown Clearwater, pays — excuse me, "compensates," as the ma'am on the phone said — $20 and $35 the first two visits and $15 and $30 on subsequent visits. The catch is you have to wait 48 hours, so no going back a few minutes later. As the company's ads say, you can earn $195 per month, which is helpful because math is hard.

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