We’ve all been there before. In the first week of the year at university, you feel as rich as you will ever be. This is the struggle of trying to make our budget last day in and day out during the ‘student life’. You become the most generous guy on a night out, you go on an extravagant shopping spree and you buy only the finest foods. Unfortunately, the fun only lasts a couple of weeks and by the time you realize that you have overindulged, it’s too late.
It’s time to get smart with your money. Keep your budget in mind and always think about what might be coming in and out of your account in the next few weeks. Here are a few tips to help you manage your money more effectively.
Save on your Textbooks
With textbooks being one of students’ great expenses, finding cheap uni textbooks is a big help. Online sites offer a wide variety of textbooks to rent, depending on how long you need the book. The cost will vary depending on whether you need the textbook for a semester, a few months or a few weeks. You could rent the book for a few weeks and make photo copies of the important sections, rather than renting it for the entire semester.
Even better, you could share textbooks with friends, borrow from the school or public library or you could buy second hand textbooks from students that have already completed a specific subject.
Sharing is caring
Share the dinner responsibilities with your roommates and friends who stay close by. Create a roster and have one roommate cook dinner each night. That way you can share the food expenses. You can also share ingredients. Whether it’s milk, condiments or butter, it’s not worth everyone having one each. You can put some cash into a kitty and buy one of each for all of you when necessary.
Don’t pay full price
With a lot of companies targeting students, you can expect an endless supply of student discounts just about anywhere and on just about anything. You can easily find discounts on things like restaurants, movie tickets and online activities. Also, take advantage of coupons and buy in bulk to save and always keep your eyes open for sales at your local supermarket. This is a pretty comprehensive guide to student discounts.
Work out a budget
It’s probably one of the most tedious and boring tasks but setting a budget can go a long way in preserving your funds. If you have an idea of how much you going to spend and what you going to be spending it on, you will be ahead of your spending habits to ensure that you don’t run out of money. If things are looking tight, only buy the absolute necessities. It’s a good idea to load money onto a prepaid card. This way you won’t be able to go over your budget.
Attend events on campus
Many universities offer a variety of activities and events right on campus. Everything from movie nights to music concerts and comedy shows, you can get your fix of weekend entertainment without having to spend much money. Rather than paying a fortune for a night out on the town or for live music concert tickets, take advantage of everything that your university has to offer.
Be smart in the way you get your caffeine buzz
Of course, there is always the option of brewing your own coffee. Why not make coffee at home in a flask and take it with you? If you prefer to buy your coffee, Starbucks offers free refills on basic coffees and teas. If you stick around for a few hours to study, you can make it worth your while by getting free coffee. Buying coffee out is pretty much the opposite of a money saving hack but if you absolutely need to, you might as well save a few pennies in the process.
Look into getting an on campus job to make a little extra money
On campus, jobs are a great way to earn a little extra cash and also open up the possibility for you to get a full-time job in the summer. If there are no vacancies on campus, you could always look into becoming a tutor at a local high school or in your community. Getting a part time job is a great way to increase your budget and will also keep you busy. This means instead of spending money, you will be earning extra.
You can also think about finding a job that is related to your degree or education.That way you’ll be earning and learning on the job, leaving you well ahead of the game when the new term starts.
Get creative with your dorm decor
Decorating a dorm room can be expensive. But by implementing a few smart ideas, you could save a fortune. You can pick up some great paint samples from Walmart to decorate your apartment walls. You can also bring some of your decor from home to fill out the empty spaces and ‘complete’ the look. If you looking for a fresh look you can head over to pinterest for some fabulous DIY ideas and home decor guides. Here’s a pretty good link to get you started.
Make use of all the resources available to students
Rather than paying for a ‘career coach” to help with your CV or job search, why not think about using the career services offered at the university to your advantage. This is a free service that helps you compile a resume, usually has practice interviews and will help you to find a job. There’s plenty of free services available at most universities if you just look for them.
Save save save
Remember that every little bit counts. Whether it’s just a few pennies or dollar bills, it goes a long way in building up your wealth and saving for a rainy day. Make a point of not spending any of that money unless it is an emergency and you have no other choice. It’s never too early to start saving. You may need to make a few sacrifices but you will thank yourself in the long run.
About the author
Jennifer Jones is inspired to teach people to live frugally to help people to take the stress out of their life and live to the fullest. Read more of her writing on The Frugal Mrs Jones.