Living on a student budget can be tricky, especially when you’re still adjusting to life in a new country. While the holidays offer plenty of time for work, your hours during the semester will be a lot more restricted. If you find yourself eagerly awaiting your next pay cheque, read on as we offer some of our best budgeting tips.
1. Make a plan
One key way to keep track of your spending is to set a budget each week or month. Make a list of all your known expenses — rent, utilities, public transport and groceries — as well as your income or savings. You will then be able to allocate money towards entertainment, travel and outings based on how much you have left to spend.
2. Keep an eye out for supermarket specials
Planning your grocery shopping around what’s on special can save you a considerable amount of money in the long term. Stock up on non-perishable food items or household supplies if you notice they’re on sale or try to incorporate some supermarket specials into your weekly meals. While specials can be great, be careful not to fall into the trap of buying things you don’t need, or buying too much and letting it all go to waste.
3. Brainstorm ways to earn some extra money
If you find that your current income isn’t quite covering everything you need it to, there are plenty of little things you can do to earn money. Perhaps you could babysit a couple of nights a week or pick up some work tutoring other students. Another idea is to hold a garage sale or market stall to sell some of your unwanted items.
4. Use your student card
Make use of student concessions wherever possible — whether it’s at the movies, sports games, events, retail stores, the bank or on public transport (if your state permits). These discounts may only save you a few dollars, but it all adds up!
5. Get active
If you find yourself spending a lot of money on petrol, parking or public transport, consider walking or riding a bike to close destinations. While this may require you to leave a little earlier, it will both save money and provide a great exercise opportunity.
6. Think of some alternative entertainment options
While a uni social life is great, it can also become expensive if you find yourself heading out multiple times a week. If you’re starting to run out of cash, start thinking of some alternatives to your usual activities. Instead of going to a restaurant, you could cook your own feast at someone’s house. Instead of going to the cinema, why not have a movie night at home?
7. Look for student nights or weekly specials
One of the benefits of being a student is not having the same weekday commitments as those who work normal hours. Rather than heading out on a weekend, consider getting a group together during the week. Restaurants and bars often have cheap food and drink specials on weeknights, which may see you pay half the price you would on weekends. You could even make it a weekly tradition!
8. Bring your lunch from home
Making yourself lunch in the morning instead of buying it each day will save you a lot of money each week. Look at bringing leftovers from the previous night’s dinner or making something simple like a sandwich. You could also try making a coffee or tea at home and bringing it with you in a travel mug.
9. Take advantage of second-hand options
You can save money on a wide range of things by looking for second-hand options — everything from textbooks, clothes and electronics to cars and furniture. You can do your shopping at garage sales, markets and second-hand stores; online on websites such as eBay and Gumtree or on social media forums; or simply by asking around for items you need.
10. Be realistic and willing to make sacrifices
The reality is that money is likely going to be limited while you’re studying — so be realistic about what you can afford, especially when it comes to things like rent or a car. If you really want to save money, you’re going to have to be prepared to make some sacrifices — big and small. On the bright side, your student years won’t last forever, and you’ll be able to start spending more when you begin working full time.