Some not so painful tips on how to best save money as a student!
Money. If you’re not unhappily in love with someone it’s probably the one thing that’s on top of your mind at most times. Money for students and given uni assignments might take up most of your time not leaving you enough resources to earn money as you sure want to excel and get good grades, you might think about how you could save up money to eventually be able to fulfil your dream of a vacation or a new smartphone.
We’ve previously talked about managing money as a student. Today we’d like to help you think about how to best save money to be able to fulfil one of your bigger dreams such as a trip to Asia or a new camera.
The relationship we have to money is mostly shaped by our parents and what they taught us about it. Now that you’re at uni you’ll notice that everyone approaches money differently. To some, it’s easy to save whilst for others, saving money feels challenging.
Here are some tips on how to best save up: whether you have a specific dream or just want to save for the sake of saving for that rainy day.
First of all: your dream needs a saving goal, and a deadline. Once you know how much you need and by when, you’ll be able to define the amount you’ll need to save each month.
Once you have defined how much money you’d like to save each month, consider how much disposable income you have each month and if your saving goal is achievable.
When thinking about your personal finances you can distinguish between your fixed costs and your variable costs. Fixed costs are for example rent, your mobile phone contract, your gym membership. With fixed costs you can decide whether you want to keep them or if you need to make a change in your lifestyle to cut your fixed costs or at least reduce them. Variable costs on the other hand are – as the name already says – variable. While you’ll always have to spend money on food how much can vary greatly.
Generally speaking it’s much easier to plan and budget if you get into the habit of keeping track of your expenses. There are great apps that help you do that.
Your biggest expenses might be food, public transport, books, but also things such as going out. Cutting your costs in any of these areas might feel harsh at first which is why it’s so important to have a clear purpose to have something to remind you of whenever you feel tempted to splurge.
Tasty and social tips to help you save on food
Food is where you’ll most likely be able to save the most money. The rule of thumb is that processed foods are usually more expensive compared to dishes made from scratch. Changing your diet obviously is a huge adjustment and might come to some harder than it does to other and so we can only recommend to do this together with a friend;
Tell one of your WhatsApp groups that you found an article (this one! Ha!) that will help you all save money. Ask everyone to bring a dish over for a shared potluck and go through the following tips together.
First, consider what staples you all buy. The trick here is not to look for cheaper options of what you already buy as they might also be lower in quality. While you might not notice the side effects immediately, you’ll for sure notice as you grow older.
First, look for what fruits and veg are seasonal. It’s well worth to look for a graphic to hang on your fridge or keep one in your purse. Seasonal foods are usually cheaper than extravagant foods that must be imported. Just the fact you can get tomatoes all year round at the supermarket doesn’t actually mean they grow in Britain. (The British tomato season runs from June to October just so you know) We recommend to buy fruits in large bags. It’s always cheaper the more you buy and it might be wiser to split the costs with fellow students, maybe your flatmates than for all of you to shop individually.
Then, the neverending topic of protein. If you really want to watch your pennies, stop eating meat. There are much cheaper sources of protein than chicken or beef and they are also much more sustainable. If you are not vegan, you might want to go for tins of sardines, jars of fish paste or get a bag of frozen fish fillets. Which – just so that we have said this – is still more expensive and less sustainable than cutting out animal products altogether.
A great source of protein are beans and pulses. You can either buy them in tins or go for the dry alternatives (even cheaper) and soak and season them yourself. Seeds and nuts are real brain foods too. And of course soy products. They’ve got a long shelf life too so you can buy all these ingredients in staples.
As for carbs, brown rice is currently much cheaper than white rice so you might want to try that. Normal pasta is cheaper than whole grain pasta. And also a bag of oats goes a long way.. Porridge, breakfast smoothies, flapjacks, granola, oat pancakes. You name it!
Baking your own cake is again cheaper than buying premade sweets. Self-made pizza is more fun to make – and you guessed already – also much cheaper than frozen pizza or what you’d otherwise order from a shop.
The best tip when it comes to food is to share with others. Start a potluck with your flatmates or friends, engage in cooking groups and/or pretend you’re all participating in “Come dine with me.” and if you don’t know where to look for recipes studentrecipes.com or https://cookingonabootstrap.com has plenty.
Getting around, the cheaper way
Next on your agenda of saving towards your goal is looking at your way of transport. If you’re a cyclist already this might not be a valuable tip for you, yet, if you aren’t just yet, consider getting out on a saddle. You’ll save some time you’d otherwise spend in the gym as getting from A to B on a bicycle is a great exercise and also can make you happy.
Don’t cut your reading, cut what you spend on it
When it comes to books you might want to consider getting an e-book reader. E-Books are generally cheaper and it’s really convenient when you want to start a new book. If you do have a long commute, you’ll feel much more at ease and better about yourself when you spend the time reading instead of mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. You can also start a reading circle with your friends and always borrow books from one another if you love paper too much and don’t want to miss out on real books in your life.
If you’re really into magazines, then consider subscribing and splitting the costs to subscribe together with a friend who enjoys the same sort of reading.
If you need books for your lectures, make friends who are a year or two ahead of you and ask them to either pass on their books or at least lend them to you. It’s very unlikely you’ll keep the books from the lectures you don’t enjoy as much past graduation.
Look great without breaking the bank!
At uni, it’s the best time to experiment with different looks to find your own style. Yet, these experiments as you know might become quite costly. Having a capsule wardrobe that highlights your style should become your goal. Seven to ten shirts or blouses, one or two skirts, one or two dresses, two to three pairs of trousers, four if you include shorts too, two to three jumpers and vests, one blazer, two jackets should probably be the maximum of what you really need. If you decide on colors you love the most and that go well together you should have enough options of how to combine your styles every day without running out of options. Use accessories to pimp your outfits and to add extra color elements and maybe also patterns. It’s usually cheaper to replace a belt or a scarf (which you can wear in many different ways) than having to buy a new jacket just because you got bored of it. You can always start a WhatsApp group with friends and trade the clothes you’re bored of for theirs. If, however, you are someone who loves going to the shops and splurging on fashion and makeup, try to keep a reminder of what you’re saving for with you at all times and right next to your credit card. An easy trick is to have what you’ve tried on put aside for a day or two and then only allow yourself to get it if you’re still thinking about that piece you were tempted to buy after those two days. It will help you reduce the amount of bad buys you’ll make in your life.
Then, of course, there is makeup which when you really think about it costs a ton. If you wear makeup to cover unruly skin, it might be worth it to go to the doctor and talk to them about your skin problems. They might give you medicine, or just tell you to change your diet. Sugar and processed foods aren’t good for your skin and so our saving tips might not just help you make your money last longer but also make your skin shine. If we still haven’t convinced you, that’s fine but just try to choose a couple of products you can’t live without rather than continuing to splurge each time you add to your collection.
Going out can be cheaper than you think
We know it’s hard to make responsible decisions once you’re out, having fun and have already had a drink or two. We don’t want to be the fun spoilers here. We know you’d not listen if we’d say don’t drink. We’re just saying think about how much you drink and what you drink. Beer is likely to be cheaper than some other drinks and you should probably only bring cash when you go to a bar. Try not to borrow money from anyone either 🙂 Set yourself on a budget and decide how much you want and are able to spend on going out.
Also, having fun doesn’t always have to involve going somewhere. Twenty years from now you’ll remember the people you were spending time with and you might have as much fun if not more when you invite friends over to cook together, play games, master karaoke in the living room or watch movies or series together.
There are most likely a million of other tips on saving money. Here are the ones we thought could help you save the most money in the shortest amount of time. If you have any tips please share them in the comments on our social media channels, email to firstname.lastname@example.org or tag a picture with your tip on Instagram using the hashtag #lifestartidealab.