By: Michelle Hutchison, IATG Guest Contributor July 15, 2016
Let’s be real: student life is never as easy or fun-loving as it might seem in those college blockbuster movies. And as much as we’d all like to think it’s easy to frolic around, eating out and meeting friends all of the time, it’s a little more difficult (and expensive!) than that. Honestly, student life is costly. And without the ability to work full time, it can be even more hard. So here are six money saving tips for students trying to succeed on a budget:
1. Plan a budget
I know this might seem quite self-explanatory, but it’s easy to just think, “I’ll remember not to spend.” This isn’t really the most effective way avoid spending money, let alone save. But if you chart up all of your expenses so that you can visualise where your money is going, you might realise you’re losing a lot on little things. This usually will help you to mentally process exactly how much you have, and how little you should be spending.
2. Make alternatives for activities
Subscriptions and memberships can drain your bank account quickly, and are especially bad if you don’t even use them. For example, if you have a membership to a gym that you don’t visit as much as you probably should, then maybe you should consider cancelling it and think about picking up a free exercise like running instead. Magazine subscriptions and other services like this can be similarly as bad.
3. Alter your social meetings
If you think about where you spend most of your time with friends, you might figure out where your money is going. It might be easy to catch up over coffee or brunch, but it’s surprisingly costly over time. If you buy a $3 coffee every weekday, you could spend $780 over the space of a year. Instead of meeting up for meals or drinks, try a free alternative. You could invite friends over to your house for a cup of tea, or go for a walk.
4. Plan your transport ahead of time
Catching a last-minute cab is costly at the best of times. Instead, check bus routes, train timetables, or even ferries if they’re near you. Also, gas is another big thing that can potentially drain a lot of money if you have to fill up your tank often. If you do drive a lot, see if you can carpool with a friend or relative if you know they’re going to be heading in the same direction that you are.
5. Travel wisely
One of the greatest aspects of student life is the ability to leave the country with not very many consequences. Being independent as a teenager or young adult is an amazing feeling – as is travelling. But of course, it’s costly. And if something happens to go wrong on your trip (like cancelled flights or lost luggage), you could end up losing a lot of money. Travel insurance isn’t often very expensive, and could really save you in the case that something happens. If something goes wrong, you want to be able to have the peace of mind that you’ll be able to claim your losses. If you aren’t sure where to start or how to go about taking out travel insurance, have a look at travel insurance deals on a personal finance website.
6. Sell the things you don’t use.
If you have too many clothes or other possessions, there are plenty of forums on Facebook or sites like eBay where you can make a little extra cash on the side. This is a great and way to earn some money with very little effort required. On the other side of things, if you need to make a purchase, have a look online first. Often there will be shopping deals and sales if you don’t buy something in-store. And this can end up saving you lots in the long run.
Saving money as a student doesn’t have to be the tedious or horrible task that it sounds like. Just by making a few simple changes, you can save yourself the stress of exceeding your budget and being out of pocket. Enjoy!
Michelle Hutchison is Money Expert at personal finance websites finder.com and finder.com.au.