The independence that comes with being a university student is all fun and games until you realize that making ends meet on a low-budget can be hard and requires serious planning.
But it’s not rocket science either! It’s just an important life skill that everyone should be able to grasp and exercise on a daily basis, and if you’re looking to figure out how to do that, you’ve come to the right place. In today’s article, we’ll be guiding you through some sure-shot tips so that you can enjoy your student life as much as you can, while also making sure you don’t go broke. Let’s get started
1. Keep a track of your finances
This is a cardinal rule for all students. Review what you spend in a day and see where a majority of your money is being spent. Create a spreadsheet or maintain a notebook dedicated to your finances and analyze how much is being spent on necessities, and how much of it is frivolous spending you can do well without.
Besides noting down your income from scholarships, guardian contributions, part-time jobs, etc. you should also make sure to include daily expenses like gas, food and commute. Utilize free apps like Mint and Walnut Money manager to be on top of your finances. Checking your bank statements regularly can also help you monitor your spending and ensure you don’t get carried away.
2. Avoid credit cards
Although credit cards seem like an exciting offer with all the affordable-sounding minimum repayments, it might turn into a debt trap with a sky-high interest rate you can seriously struggle with as a student. Yes, credit cards are extremely useful during emergencies, but you should also make sure to repay pending amounts on time. It’s even worse if you don’t have an income which will leave you with mounting debt. As an alternative, you can switch to debit cards where there is no danger of falling into a financial pitfall and you’ll also be able to exercise healthy spending habits.
A great alternative to credit cards are the modern digital banks such as Revolut. These offer a number of products including investment tools and even low rate loans. But avoiding credit should be top priority!
3. Get a part-time job
Monetise your skills and use them to earn extra cash. This will help you gain a work ethic and build on your experience. Being a part of cultural societies and participating in competitions that offer cash prizes can also help you fetch you a decent amount of money. In addition, find out if any of your professors are involved in research work, enquire if they need assistance with their surveys or other errands.
Another term that gets thrown around a lot nowadays is freelancing: technically self-employing yourself and marketing your skills on the internet or elsewhere. It is definitely something that offers far more advantages than disadvantages and as long as you know something you can offer for work, you should be able to find clients who are looking for getting that kind of work done. In many cases freelancing takes little to no investment and can pay very well. You can even do freelancing as a model, a tour guide or a dog walker!
4. Pool your resources
A majority of other students are in the same boat as you are. Team up with your flatmates or classmates and share resources with each other. If your flatmates agree, you can buy your groceries together in bulk. Plan meal schedules to share the cooking and save money on energy bills. You can also share expenses on travel by carpooling or splitting costs of an Uber ride.
5. Make use of student discounts
Be mindful of stores and brands that offer student discounts and utilize them. Keep your student card on your person at all times as this might help in local stores, as well as in supermarkets. Get a hold of the NUS TOTUM card which will open doors to discounts on clothes, books, takeaways as well as dry cleaning. Brands like Spotify, Lenovo, Amazon, Udemy and several others provide discounts on important commodities too.
6. Use second-hand material
Don’t spend money on brand new college supplies, instead try checking in with your university libraries and see if they have copies you can borrow, or buy second-hand. You can do the same for furniture, electronics and clothes. You should also look into ebooks and pdfs, which are cheaper than their hard-copy counterparts and sometimes even available for free.
7. Make use of campus services
Do thorough research on all the facilities that your university provides. Apply for scholarships if you have excelled in your subject or belong to a low-income household. Even if you feel you aren’t eligible for a scholarship it is advisable to still check as there may be some criteria that you fulfill. Several campuses provide and organize exciting social events like movie nights, museum tours and others for a nominal price or for free. You could also access the campus gym and save quite a bit by avoiding having to pay for an outside membership.
8. Have an emergency fund
The lack of a steady income can make it hard for you to prepare for emergencies. Skipping a night out or cooking at home can help you save some money for events that catch you unawares.
While you don’t have to sacrifice your college life in order to meet financial goals, there are certain factors you should keep in mind while spending your money. Hopefully, some of these tips help you get a clearer idea of building and adhering to a savings plan. Good luck!