If you’ve started at college or university and are already blowing your budget in Month 1, here’s a few tips on how to save money as a student.
From rent and groceries to transportation and entertainment, it can be hard to keep track of where your money is going when you’re a student. You may not think that you’re spending on unnecessary items. After all, it’s not as if you go shopping for clothes or shoes every week. Most of your expenses are necessary ones. And if there are a few non-essential items, like that café latte that you drink everyday, well it’s not all that expensive, right? Sadly all your expenses add up in the end, leaving you wondering exactly where your money went. Here are some basic tips to help you cut down on living costs.
Keep a journal in which you write down all your expenses. If you’re old school, use a paper journal, or do it on your phone. Writing down everything will force you to see how much you are spending, and you’ll automatically find yourself gravitating towards saving money. Looking for an app for that? Here’s a list of apps that will work well for Canadian college or university students.
For most people, their rent is one of their highest expenses. There’s no easy way to get around this if you already live in a place that’s too expensive for your budget. Before searching for a place to live, try to determine what you can live with (a basement apartment? A roommate? Ten roommates?). Make a list of “must-have’s” and “nice-to-have’s”. Try to put them in order of priority so that when you go house-hunting you have already sorted out what you’re looking for.
Is your electric bill really high? It could be a lot of little things adding up. Channel your inner parent by doing the following:
Unfortunately, all the things which are good for you—fruits, veggies and white meat—are more expensive than junk food. Firstly, make sure you know which grocery stores in your neighbourhood offer price matching. Then download an app like Flipp or Reebee. They’re easy to use and can save you a ton of cash! Also, don’t forget about buying in bulk. If you have space issues or just can’t see yourself eating an entire case of something, organize your friends (someone probably has a Costco membership) and get the staples everyone needs at a lower unit price.
Chances are you’ve already discovered how much you can save by using these resources. Your college or university has a library. And nowadays, you can also rent ebooks online for a specific period of time, thus giving you access to more books than are available in the library building itself. Used bookstores and cafes that sell used books are also a great resource. And Netflix is a great option if you want to save the money spent on going to movies.
If there’s a gym at your school, then use it. If not, there are a number of cheaper gyms out there. Discount gyms (like Lucille Roberts, Anytime Fitness, Planet Fitness and Gold’s Gym, if they are in your area). Community centres often have cheap drop-in rates for swimming pools and other fitness classes.
With a little ingenuity, you’ll find that you end up saving a lot. Total up your expenses from your journal at the end of the month. Don’t start judging yourself the very first month! By the second month, when you’ve put some of your money-saving ideas into practice, you’ll find that you’ve reduced living costs quite a bit.