Money Saving At University
This article was written by my daughter during the early stages of setting up our Accidental Mentor website.
Once you get to college you will need to learn how to budget and try and make sure that your expenses don’t pull you into an overdraft. If you learn and develop healthy monetary habits during your time in education, then these will be incredibly beneficial throughout your life. When I finished college I was quite far into my overdraft and I’ve learned some things about saving money and budgeting that I wish I knew at the start of my degree. A lot of the challenge when you start college is to be mindful of what you are spending money on. When you have likely never had to seriously worry about money and budgeting before and you have the whole challenge and excitement of living somewhere new and meeting new people it can be easy to put money worries to the back of your mind. Every year there will be students who run out of money before the academic year is up because they did not budget successfully when they first arrive
Need vs want
You will need to work out what are impulse spends and differentiate between these and necessary spending. Rent, insurance, and bills are unavoidable however your monthly streaming subscription to Netflix and Spotify might be expenditures that you cannot justify if it looks like you might fail to make ends meet.
Don’t be fooled by mindlessly using card payments
Pay with cash instead of cards to try and reduce the amount of money that you impulse spend. If you can physically see how much you are spending, then you might think twice about how you spend your cash.
Students spend a lot of money on takeaway and fast food, services like Ubereats make it very easy to get food from your favorite places delivered quickly and with minimal effort. This means ordering takeaway can become an easy habit to form, but it quickly becomes a big chunk of your budget if you do this often so try and reduce the amount you spend on getting delivery. Some colleges provide food so you will have already paid this expense, and this will be one thing less to worry about. As well as saving money, eating less fast food will keep you in shape more easily and you might not have to fork out on an expensive gym membership.
However, as well as meals you may also be spending money on food to snack on so when you go shopping, make sure you are not hungry otherwise you might be tempted to splash out on expensive snacks! If you regularly buy expensive coffees at establishments at Starbucks then you need to cut down on this as whilst it might not seem like much it can all add up very fast. Starbucks charges over $4 for a grande and even more if you opt for a particularly fancy drink so it is easy to see how this could drain your budget pretty fast.
Get a part-time job
If you are good at time management a way to ensure your expenditure doesn’t exceed your budget is to have a part-time job alongside your studies. Because studying is already stressful and often time-consuming you need to ensure that you are capable of juggling both earning money and getting your work done on time. If time management is a skill you have not mastered yet, then you can still use the long summer breaks to earn when you are free of education and save this for when you don’t have the time to earn.
Try a side gig
Having a part-time job is not the only way to earn money. Many students use depop to sell old clothes to make space in their wardrobe and also make some money. There are many options to take up freelancing as a way of earning; if you are doing a degree in English or creative writing then there are many writing jobs available. There is also the option of offering tutoring and this can be for children of a school-age or even people at the same college who are struggling with their course and need some extra help. These have the benefits of being much more flexible to your schedule. There are even some students who offer services as a personal trainer as a means of keeping fit and making money! If you use your imagination there are many ways to make money that don’t clash with your studies.
Find stores that are cheap and use your student discount
Being a student means that you should make the most out of student discounts that many places offer. Your college should provide you with a student ID card that you can show to stores and get money off food, entertainment, clothes, books and lots of other things. As well as stores that offer student discounts you should find stores that are cheap for example maybe you could buy vintage clothes from a second-hand store. Some gyms will offer student discounts but to save even more you could do exercise classes in your room using the many online videos available, and go running outside when the weather permits it.
Don’t pay a fortune for textbooks
Textbooks can often cost a fortune if you buy them brand new. To avoid this, see if your college library stocks the book and try and get to the copies before everyone else in your class does. If not in your library, then you can try and buy them second hand off a student from the previous year or from an online site such as amazon. Once you have finished with them then you can resell them and hopefully make the majority of the money back.
Avoid fees that cost money
Be careful with bank fines. Banks often have punitive fees such as overdraft charges and insufficient fee charges. One way to avoid this is to have online banking so you can regularly check how healthy your bank account is looking. Also, many banks offer the option to create phone or email alerts that notify you if you are about to drop below a set amount. It is worth seeing if your bank offers a student bank account that might be more lenient with these fees.
Fines can also occur regarding renting and paying bills. These often come with late fees so ensure that you pay rent and bills on time otherwise this could leave with a nasty fee.