The transition to university life can be a time of excitement and stress. For many students, this will be their first experience with managing their own finances. This new responsibility can be difficult for first-time university students, and it is littered with pitfalls that can make a disaster of your financial state. Many students never get a handle on their finances and they live moment-to-moment trying to find ways to make ends meet; students often finish university with massive debts so anything you can do to save money and alleviate the financial stress is worth doing.
Best Ways to Save Money
If you feel like your financial life has gotten away from you, you are not alone. Fortunately, there are ways to save money and make university life more affordable. By making some small adjustments to the way you live and the way you spend, you can save money while studying at university.
Make a Budget
Saving money is not something that just happens. You have to set a budget if you want to have any chance of managing your money. Total up your income and expense. Once you know how much money you have each month and the amount you have to pay out, you can then start looking for ways to reduce your expenses and save money. You could even use different personal finance apps to help you make a budget, track your expenses and save.
Avoid Credit Card Spending
Credit cards can be useful, but they can also make it hard to save. Don’t buy something of you don’t have the money. Credit cards are a form of debt and the interest and fees can add to your expenses. If you have a credit card, leave it at home when you go out and only use it if it is a real emergency. If you do use your credit card, try to pay it back as soon as you have the money.
Cook Your Own Food
Eating out might not seem expensive when you look at it from the perspective of a single meal, but when you total it up for the month, it is a major expense. You can save money by buying food at the supermarket and cooking it yourself. You have a range of low-cost, healthy options, and it gives you a chance to look for supermarket deals that can save you even more money.
Save Money on Textbooks
Finding cheap uni textbooks is a good way to start the journey off with some savings. When you add it all up, textbooks can run you a few hundred dollars, and this can put a significant dent in your budget right from the beginning. If you are looking to save money on textbooks, you could try borrowing them from the school library. If library copies are not available for checkout, you could scan them or see if there is a pdf that you can download. You could also look for online services that let you rent textbooks as you need them.
Entertain Yourself for Less
Entertainment and social activity are an important part of life, but you have to be realistic about this type of spending. If you are on a tight budget, you can’t afford to go out every night and you have to find ways to entertain yourself at a lower cost. You can find free on-campus activities at most schools. They will give you a chance to get out and you won’t have to break your budget for entertainment. You could also borrow DVDs from the library. You might not always be able to find the titles you want, but it is free.
Shop at Discount Stores
Discount stores can be great for cutting the cost of many of your regular needs. You can get a lot of your schools supplies, decor items for your room, personal hygiene items and household cleaning supplies. You could also consider shopping for some items in bulk or go with generics for purchases where it doesn’t really make a difference. With discount stores, bulk buying and generics, you can cut your expenses significantly while still taking care of all of your needs.
Share Meals to Save Money
Buying and cooking your own food is one way to save money, but cooking for one can be inefficient. You are bound to meet other students who need to save money and are looking for ways to save on food. Get together with friends and pool your resources to bring down the cost for each individual. You can all put some money in for the meal budget and take turns cooking. It can be a good way to spend some time with your friends and it will also save you some money.
Be Smart About Banking
You are going to need a bank account, but you should not rush off and open an account at the first bank you come to. Many banks offer student bank accounts with special features and low fees, so you should go to a few banks and compare your options. Consider the difference in fees and features and try to find a bank that has a lot of convenient ATMs in the area. Most banks do charge extra for using out of network ATMs, so you want to make sure you can access your account without having to pay extra.
Saving coupons might not be fun or exciting, but it can be a good ways to save money on your grocery bill. You should also keep your eye out for sales at the supermarket. If you can plan some of your meals around sales and coupons, it can really add up and it will make it much easier to manage your budget. Clipping coupons the old-fashioned way will offer you lots of savings, but you also have coupon apps that can be good for finding discounts.
Take Advantage of Being a Student
There programs that are specifically designed to help students save money, and your student ID can provide access to a number of different discounts. You can save on transport, food and entertainment simply by showing your student ID. Not every business or organization is going to provide a discount for students, but it is worth finding out about the places that do.
Needs vs. Wants
One of the best money saving tips is to accept the difference between your needs and your wants. Don’t buy on impulse and don’t overspend on things that are not necessary. As a student, you are going to encounter people that simply have more money or other students that are just irresponsible with their budgets. Don’t allow the spending habits of those around you to impact your own behavior. Know your budget, know what you can afford, and accept your financial reality.
Start Paying Your Loans
This might be easier said than done, but the interest can really add up. If you are saving money while at university, you might as well put some of it to good use. Even if you can only afford to pay a small amount each month, it will make a big difference and save you some money after you graduate.