One of the hardest things to do in life is to save money as a student. When you are trying to reach your goal of attaining that degree at college or university, there is no doubt that money will be one of the biggest problems that you will encounter.
This post will show you some simple tips that you can use to help save you money and make the most of your time in college.
For many life at university will be the fist time that you will leave home, pay for rent, bills and food. Essentially you will experience the big bad world and learn how to manage for finances for the first time.
There are however many ways in which you can manage and save money as a student while at the same time enjoying university life and achieving your goals.
1) Set your weekly budget
Setting yourself a weekly budget is the best way to save money as a student. With the exception of your first two weeks at college, you should have a weekly budget set out from your third week of each semester.
For your first two weeks you will need to purchase essentials for your house or flat and books for college will also set you back some vital drinking funds. Speaking of drinking, it is most likely that a lot of money will be spent in the first two weeks of getting a feel for student life by having lots of fun with your new college mates.
Firstly your weekly budget should set out how much you need to spend on rent and bills. Secondly you should allow for an appropriate amount of money to provide groceries and food for your dinners and lunches each week.
Check out this useful post on how to save money while shopping for groceries.
Food is your most important expenditure
Your weekly budget should set out sufficient funds to enable you to buy proper healthy food and not to be relying on cheap fast food alternatives. Always remember that food is vital to your health and especially for your brain to function properly while studying. Never skip meals in order to save money for alcohol.
2) Set aside an emergency fund
Always be aware of the unexpected as a student. If you have money left over at the end of each week from your weekly budget, set it aside in case of an unforeseen event. You can do this by depositing what you have left each week into a savings account in your bank. By the end of your degree and if you never had to use money from your emergency account, you could then treat yourself to a holiday.
3) Choose cheaper entertainment
It is difficult to go out with friends every night during college. For one it costs a lot of money and most likely you will fail exams as a result. If you are into partying there are ways in which you can save money;
House parties instead of nightclubs
House parties are great as long as the party is not in your house. House parties are free, there are no cover charge unlike a nightclub and drink can be sourced cheaply at the local off-license.
Movies instead of the cinema
If you have a TV in your house/flat, a DVD player is relatively inexpensive or you could get a TV link cable for your laptop. You can invite friends over for a movie and purchase popcorn from the local supermarket. It will work out cheaper than going to the cinema on a regular basis and will help you save money as a student.
Netflix instead of TV subscriptions
You probably will not have the time to watch TV, therefore a TV subscription will likely be a waste of money. Netflix offers better value an gives the opportunity to watch all the latest shows when you get the time.
Take advantage of campus activities and join societies. Usually they hold weekly activities for students which are mostly free or cost price due to funding and fundraising activities.
4) Make the most of college deals
In most colleges and university locations there are always some offer available for students. Offers include discounts for shops, restaurants, cafes, and for nightclubs. You will find that shops restaurants and cafes etc. offer deals such as 20% discounts on a particular day with a college I.D. For nightclubs you may find that on a particular day you get in free while another night there may be drinks promotions. Taking advantages of such offers can save you money and increase your enjoyment of college life.
Life at college should be enjoyable and money should not hold you back from having a good time. By setting out a budget and taking advantages of student discounts can save you money as student.
5) Use the library for books
Do not buy books for the semester unless it is a requirement. Purchasing college books can be a high cost for students. The library should contain all the books that you require for the semester ahead, therefore you should be able to borrow them for free.
If you do have to buy books, look on ebay to find them second hand. Amazon may also provide you with cheaper offers while you can also find used books on that marketplace too.
You should also look at selling your books once the semester is over to get some of the money back.
6) Plan your meals
To save money as a student, it is important that you plan your meals in order to save money. By eating out, you will end up spending more than cooking your own meals. It is a good idea to plan your meals and cook meals in advance.
It is also a good tip to take your lunch with you as lunchtime snacks can add up to an expense each week.
7) Don’t Smoke
Smoking is a very expensive habit and all it does is kill you. If you smoke, quit. If you never smoked in your life, A top money saving tip would be: don’t waste your money.
8) Try Volunteering rather than Spring Break or Summer Trips
Spring break and summer trips are popular but can be expensive. Instead why not check out volunteering opportunities, they are cheaper and will help you save money as a student. You may also find funded volunteering opportunities that cover some of your expenses. Another advantage to volunteering experience is that it improves your CV and improves your chances for getting a job after college.
9) Make your own coffee and/or tea
Love drinking coffee or tea? Do you find it helps you through your assignments and studying? Take a thermal flask of tea or coffee with you instead of buying it at college. Each coffee or tea you purchase will add up!
10) Get a student savings account
If you have a current account with your bank, change it to a student account to get reduced fees. If your bank does not offer such an option, move your savings to another bank.
11) Do not borrow money for pleasure
Only get a loan to fund your education. Do not get a loan to fund a holiday on your student break as you could find yourself in a state of unsustainable debt.
12) Do not gamble your money
Some students like to go to casinos after a night out or go betting on sports in their free time. Avoid gambling at all costs as the house and the bookie nearly always win in the end.
13) Use a personal finance app to track your spending
There are many personal finance apps that you can find on the various app stores for free. These apps help you keep track of your spending and allow you to budget for your college days.
14) Use cashback apps
There are various cashback apps that you can use for free which are available on the Play Store on Apple’s App Store. These apps pay you money back on purchases you make on various stores online and some offline. See this post for the best cashback apps.
One app that you can try is Mr.Rebates. It is a free website and app that pays you each time you make a purchase online when you click through to your intended online store.
15) Haggle on rent prices
A good tip to save money as a student, is to haggle on rent price both before you agree terms and during the year. It is something you should at least try as you have nothing to lose. Paying a few months in advance is a good way to try slash the price of your monthly rent (you may get a week free or at least get the price rounded up)
16) Turn off electrical devices an appliances when you are not using them
Do not forget to turn off the lights in rooms you are not using. Any electrical devices, ensure you turn off them off at the mains to save money on your electricity bill.
Anything that is left on standby, like a TV is still sapping energy, so turn them off when they are not needed.
17) Use Student Bus Passes
If you have to take a bus each day to college, if available, always use a student pass or get a student fare on your travels in order to save money. By taking advantage of student rate transportation, you can save money on a daily basis.
18) Use free software instead of premium software
You can buy Microsoft Word and Excel etc for a high price. However, you can use Google Drive for their Word and Excel equivalents, while you can download Libre Office for free. There are programs like Gimp, which is a free alternative to Adobe Photoshop.
19) Use Solar Chargers For Your Devices
Buy a solar charger for your smartphone or tablet. This will help you save money on electricity needed for charging your device. There are also solar chargers that will work on laptops.
More Financial Tips for Students
For more tips on student finance, check out our post on 5 top financial tips for students. This post looks at scholarship opportunities, credit responsibilities, and getting a job.