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The time I hacked my high school

When I was in high school, I started the Chess Club. I needed money to buy chess sets and chess clocks to get the club going, but at first I had some difficulty raising cash.

Then I hacked the system, and Chess Club became a cash generating machine.

Before the hack

Clubs made money by reselling burritos or pizza from nearby restaurants during lunch. Each of these lunch sales typically made about $100 in profit. Since I didn't want to charge dues for the club, I needed lunch sales to raise money for Chess Club.

Unfortunately, the rules around lunch sales were restrictive. Only one club could sell per week, and other clubs like the Science Club had a much stronger precedent for needing lunch sales. Without a precedent for needing money, I was unable to acquire enough lunch sale dates.

The hack

I studied the rules for operating clubs on campus and found the loophole I needed: clubs were allowed to go into debt to the student government for $200. I figured that if I were in debt to the student government, I'd have more leverage in getting lunch sale dates.

I immediately spent $200 on chess boards, chess clocks, and books. I bought more than we needed because I wanted to maximize our debt. Then I went to the student government treasurer, gave him the receipt, and was reimbursed for the expense.

The student government wasn't too happy about the situation. They wanted me to pay them back as they were on a tight budget. I told them I couldn't raise money because they wouldn't give me lunch sale dates.


They relented and started giving me lunch sale dates so that I could pay them back. Even though we made $100 per lunch sale, I only paid them back $50 at a time to maximize the time we were in debt. Soon afterwards, the student government relaxed the rules to let clubs have lunch sales more days per week.

Since Chess Club now had a precedent for needing money, I was able to get plenty of slots for lunch sales. The student government clearly didn't think about why we needed so much money (we didn't need so much money). They relied on the "precedent for needing money" heuristic and may have been afraid Chess Club would go into debt again.

After the hack

Chess Club was swimming in money. I stocked the school's library with chess sets. I upgraded the club's chess sets to a mixture of glass and wooden sets. I bought computerized chess sets and expanded our collection of chess books. I started holding school-wide chess tournaments with hundreds of dollars in prizes.

I couldn't spend money faster than we were bringing it in.

When I graduated, Chess Club had $500 in the bank. I considered holding one last tournament with massive prizes, but ultimately decided to leave the money for future generations of Chess Club.

You should follow me on Twitter here.

Reader Comments (1)

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April 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterHack Genius

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