College Guide - How to survive the week on $50

One ATL undergrad’s 7-day, wallet-strapped quest for food, fun, and beer

As you stare into the cavernous leather abyss, all you can see is darkness. Your wallet is taunting you. The depths of your bifold billfold echo a reminder of your bank statement. How does this always happen?

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College.

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You’re working a summer job and interning for that ever-prestigious company while enrolled in two mini-mester courses. The job covers rent and Sallie Mae covers school — for now — but your party fund has dwindled and it’s time to conserve the remnants of your coin and test your economic prowess.

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Now unless you want to beg mom and dad for extra cash — no one likes doing that — you’ve got $50 in the bank. But half a Benjamin should keep you alive and well, if you spend with tact.

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Monday



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You’d better begin this seven-day stretch with the purchase of a jar of peanut butter and some crackers. If you dodge the name brands, the combo shouldn’t run you more than $5 and the protein and sugar should keep you alive for most of the week, if used sparingly.

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Now maybe it’s about time to stop wallowing in self-pity. You should be able to find some Atlanta Braves tickets for about $1. That should get you into the B.Y.O.Whatever section of Turner Field. On your walk to the Ted, grab two McDonald’s McChickens ($2.16) from the golden arches on Jesse Hill Drive by Georgia State. One of these will serve as a bartering token for miscellaneous drinks and snacks. On your way out, you can wash it all down with $1 waters sold by a number of vendors outside the stadium.

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Tuesday



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Tuesdays offer a chance for something to revitalize your body and relax your mind: yoga. Just off the Atlanta Beltline’s Eastside trail, there’s free King of Pops yoga in Old Fourth Ward Park. Oh, and keeping in line with the free.99 price line, while there, you can nab an Arnold Palmer or Chocolate Sea Salt pop with only the cost of a potential pulled muscle because your yogi-ing prowess is off.

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Once your body feels cleansed and rested, you can begin the abuse again at Across the Street’s Taco Tuesday. At $2 a taco, $6 will yield you three meat-filled tortillas.

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Wednesday



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You don’t have to skip breakfast if you can find it for cheap. Thankfully in the M. Rich building Downtown, there’s Alaydi’s Café, where you’ll find chef Linda’s $2.99 breakfast.

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For lunch, head toward Broad Street. This part of Downtown is peppered with cheap eats. You can grab a fat dish of chicken fried rice at Mr. Hibachi for around $7 and that mammoth serving should last you at least two big meals. After that’s been divvied up, head to open-mic night at the Atlanta Improv, where you’ll find comedians of all experiences who, like you, are just trying to figure this shit out. You’ll need a good laugh halfway through the week, so why not drop in there. That ticket will run you another $7, but maybe you can find an aspiring local comic riding the high of a good performance to buy you a drink.

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Thursday



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Today may just be the day to whip up some semblance of a home-cooked meal. Trek up to the East Atlanta Village Farmers Market for some fresh produce for cheap, and other locally made goodies. Every Thursday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., you can skip the grocery store and support your local farmer. Plus, it won’t hurt to actually eat healthy this week.

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Friday



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Fall out of bed and hop on the skateboard. Don’t bullshit about taking your car anywhere. You can’t afford the gas. Mosey on up to Murder Kroger or Trader Joe’s on Monroe Drive and see if you can’t scheme your way into an immoral helping of free food. Plenty of Atlanta grocers offer charcuterie samples on the weekends, and throughout the week. Make it count.

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Looking to go out, meet people, and drink for free? It can be done. The second Friday of every month Castleberry Hill hosts an art walk, where you can meander your way through the neighborhood’s collections of galleries, meet new people, and sip wine and spirits while debating paintings and trippy installations.

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Saturday



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You’ll need to hit up Jack’s Pizza on North Highland Avenue and order a Miller High Life pitcher. The champagne of beers will cost you $4. You must meticulously scan the restaurant for a party with more food than beer. Despite the cost, alcohol is always more valuable than food in Old Fourth Ward. You can use this beer to befriend a posse of pizza eaters, effectively immersing yourself in their pie. If you accidentally collide with a pack of vegetarians, remember the peanut butter in your pocket should suffice as the meat. Throw a glob on that slice. Some crackers, too, I suppose.

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Sunday



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The churning solution within you will beg to be flushed, so you’ll need to commit to a juice diet for the first half of the day. After a $7 trip to Arden’s Garden, you should be able convince yourself that your body is fully repaired and ready again for the wringer. Lounge on the couch the rest of the day; eat some crackers and peanut butter if there’s any left. You deserve it; you’ve beaten the system, and had a good time doing it. You can clean the crumbs of your content belly tomorrow.