As a student, I am always looking for new ways to save some money, just some extra cash to add to the study funds! Throughout my further education, I have worked, saved and tried various ways to stay on budget, something that many people find difficult.
Here is how I manage my finances and stick to a strict budget, without deviating… well not by much!
The main piece of advice that I can give you is to make sure you work out what you’re going to spend ahead of time, so that you can put aside what you need. This is crucial, especially for a student, as we generally live off loans or grants and therefore need to calculate how far that money will go. This will give you notice ahead of time, in case you need to find work to pull together any additional funds, instead of getting to the last few months of the year and realising that you are running short. This also helps you to be strict with yourself, because armed with the knowledge that, after your general expenses, you should have a certain amount left over, you’re less likely to spend on unnecessary items. If you do, the only thing you’ll see in your head is that amount getting less and less and less.
Never take change with you to university! This is a rookie mistake. It’s all too easy to use any spare coins in your pocket to buy yourself a chocolate bar or drink from the vending machine or cafeteria , whenever you have a spare five minutes. Instead, at the end of the day, put any change you have accumulated, throughout the day, into a change pot. You’ll be surprised just how much money is in there at the end of the year, money that can go towards the last months bills or into the savings account for next year.
Another thing you need to do is shop around. I know that it might be a pain to go to 2 or 3 different supermarkets, when it comes to doing the weekly shop, but it’s amazing how much money you can save. When I first started doing my own shopping, I would buy everything in the same supermarket. My shopping bill was never expensive, but I could have done with it being a little bit cheaper. Eventually I started getting half my shopping in one store and the other half in another, obviously buying the products in whichever store sold them the cheapest. I noticed that I got an awful lot more for my money and quite often my bill comes to 10 or 20 euros less than it was originally.
Use vouchers and coupons to save a little as well. Most newspapers and magazines have a section at the back where they offer money off of various products. Make sure you take a look, to see if you can save. Your student card, more often than not, will get you discounts. Things like cinema tickets, gym memberships, public transportation and books will sometimes be cheaper, simply because you’re studying. You can’t grumble at that!
Do things in groups. Group activities are always cheaper than doing things on your own, because the company you’re buying from is being guaranteed several ticket sales at once. Want to go to the zoo, try a new activity at the community centre or go on a tour, buy the tickets in bulk and split the bill between you and your friends.
Be organised! This is essential. The last thing you want is an unexpected bill, because you forgot to pay you bills on time and are being fined for it. Make sure you have an agenda, diary or calendar of some sort, with the dates marked for specific bills. With so many different things to pay, it’s easy to get confused and simply put the wrong amount of money into the wrong account! Something as simple as a calendar can save you loads of money and hassle. I make sure to write how much each of my bills comes to, so that I can compare with other months if necessary. This came in useful recently, when I got a gas bill in for 130 euros. Luckily I knew this had to be incorrect, as I had marked on my calendar that the previous 6 gas bills had been around 40. I asked the company to look into it and my bill was reduced down to 38 euros. Being organised saved me 92 euros that day!
Keep yourself occupied with university activities. It’s all too easy, when you get to university, to get into the habit of going out for a drink with your friends on a regular basis. The problem with this is that “a quick drink” more often than not turns into a whole night out and drinking out is always going to burn a hole in your pocket. So instead, sign up for university sports teams or clubs. They’ll keep you occupied and tire you out, whilst still be dirt cheap, if not free. I know that No one wants to stay cooped up inside in an attempt to save a bit of money, but there are other ways to be social whilst at university.
Hope these tips have helped. Get saving and you’ll be shocked at the difference it can make!