Money-Saving Tips for Students 💸
What’s depressed and makes bad jokes about it? A student’s bank account!
It is (sadly) one of those facts of life – students are not meant for a luxurious existence. Most will tell you horror stories about various pasta concoctions (I do hear Nutella is a thing), spoilt bread, and other survival lifehacks, like stealing Wi-Fi from the next-door neighbor.
One thing we need to make clear, though: There is nothing wrong with being frugal, and saving money as a student is a talent you can hone. You should hardly be ashamed of being careful with your spending, especially nowadays when our beloved inflation is through the roof.
When the Going Gets Tough: Long-Term Money-Saving Tips 💰
While you know by now that we like to be thorough in our articles dealing with student life, today is all about my favorite motto: “short and sweet.” In other words, we’re cutting to the chase with some of the most effective tips for saving money in the long run:
- Make a plan. The best way to keep track of your spending is to have a clear idea of how much money you can spend, what your emergency funds are, and what lines you can’t cross. The number will depend on your monthly income. Whether you’re getting some cash from your parents or a part-time job, you need a clear division between spending and saving.
- Track your expenses. Most student cash is spent on the following: rent, utilities, groceries, printing/textbook/course materials, phone and internet, streaming services, and, naturally, some online shopping. These are the things you need to account for from the get-go.
- Categorize your desires into indispensable, important, and can wait. When you want to splurge, consider where you would place your desired item. Obviously, bills and food are indispensable, but maybe the new Baby Yoda dancing plush can wait a bit.
- Make standing orders. Arrange for your utilities and rent to be paid monthly via a standing order. That way, the money is withdrawn automatically at the first of the month, and you’ll have an overview of how much you have left.
- Have a savings account. You can also make a standing order and transfer any small amount there once a month. You can make it as little as 10% of your monthly income, and you won’t notice the difference.
- Keep track of your finances. Compare how much you earn and how much you spend over a couple of months, and consider what you can still tweak.
- Cancel unnecessary subscriptions. Do you really need five different streaming services? If so, it’s time to consider whether you’re spending too much time online and not enough in class.
- Make use of student discounts. Many online platforms, brands, and shops offer special student deals. Capitalize on those and slash your expenditures.
While doing so, remember: It’s never too early to start a small fund for a rainy day. Entering the workforce after university can take some time, and life can be a little b … bubble … that tends to throw curveballs, especially when you decide to save money.
Tips for Saving Money as a Student: Immediate Action 🏧
Apart from thinking long-term, you can save quite a few bucks by changing some of your shopping practices:
- Discounts are your friends. It’s surprising how much money you can save by shopping for discounts. Most of the time, major supermarkets have brochures and online catalogs of weekly discounts. Leaf through a few and mark those items you need and can get at a reduced price.
- Read the prices. Instead of blindly picking up the first item you see, check whether you can get another brand for less money. Usually, supermarkets have their own brands for most items, and these are decently priced. Hint: Look for them on the bottom shelf.
- Kick the brands. You can buy quality clothes even if they come without a fancy brand plastered somewhere everyone can see. While fast fashion is known for greenwashing, there are still some brands with a more accessible price list and eco-friendly manufacture.
- Vintage your closet. Some years ago, vintage was all-the-rage, but people somehow mistook this as a sign to start producing new clothes that look old. Ridiculous! You’ll be shocked to see how many second-hand shops sell practically new clothes (brand items, too) at low prices. I love a community market in my area: They sell everything from clothes to board games in great condition and employ people from marginalized groups who would otherwise have trouble finding work.
- Cook and eat at home. Takeout food tends to give your account such a sneaky sucker punch! Instead of coughing up bucks for a single meal, you could buy the ingredients and cook the same thing for two days. A simple variety of stews, pasta, and salads can go a long way.
- Plan your meals around shopping. In other words, shop for reduced items that week and plan your cooking around that, not vice versa.
- Pay with cash. Cards are useful but evil. It’s easy to swipe them over and over again and have no clue about how much you’re really spending. Having cash gives you a much better sense of what’s going on with your expenses and where they’re going.
- Ditch your addictions. Stop smoking, drinking, and overeating sugary treats – not only will you save money, but you’ll also be healthier!
- Get a part-time job. If you’re not working already, you should consider doing some student jobs or taking up a freelance position as a teacher, tour guide, or delivery driver.
- Fix your home. Make sure there aren’t any leaks or sneaky holes that let cold air into your place – you can save on heating this Winter by closing all your windows tightly.
- Cap your nights out. Nothing screams splurge more than a night out drinking. Alcohol tends to be at least thrice as expensive in clubs and bars than in stores. And that’s even before you add all soft drinks and the obligatory bakery breakfast. Warm up with a drink at home if you really want alcohol.
- Go green. Use public transport or a bicycle to get around (gas prices are offensive these days). Save money and the environment at the same time!
- Reduce your clothes shopping. Try making your own capsule wardrobe. It’s a great way to save time in the morning and money, especially if you reduce your choices to plain clothes.
- Apply for a scholarship. What better way to save than having some extra cash flowing every month? Check out our scholarship application and motivation letter guide to boost your chances!
Be aware of your spending and cut them where you can. However, if life hits you with an expense, don’t work yourself up into a state – these things happen.
A Final Money-Saving Tip – Don’t Be Cheap
Although it is somewhat counterintuitive, there are times when it’s better to pick a more expensive item. One heartfelt piece of advice is to always buy high-quality shoes and winter jackets. It’s better to invest in a good pair of boots once and wear them for years than to cough up more money every season.
As always, bear in mind Sam Vimes’s Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness™, also known as the Boots Theory:
The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money. Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles. But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while a poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.
God bless Terry Pratchett!
PS If you feel like you don’t have enough friends and time, we’ve got you covered there too!