For most, going to college means finally gaining some independence. No one tells you to be back by 2am or checks if you have finished your greens. But with greater freedom comes greater financial responsibility. Being in charge of all the expenses can be very overwhelming, so we have created a top 5 list of tips every student should know.
1. Lean how to cook
There is a reason why this is first on the list: most students overspend on food. You might get the impression that you are eating quite cheaply, but if you regularly buy meals on campus that can easily add up. Plus pizza – we look at it as cheap junk food, but when eaten too often, you end up spending a small fortune on that cheesy goodness. Learn how to cook, it’s truly easy. You can cook up more food so it lasts a couple of days, saving time and energy. In a Tupperware you can carry your lunch to classes. With just a little bit of effort, you can save money and actually eat much, much tastier food than you would by ordering at cafeteria. Here are some great and easy recipes!
2. Try the envelope system
This one is pretty straight forward. On each one of the envelopes you will write one expenses category, such as: Groceries, Bills, Coffee, Nights out, Uni supplies, Miscellaneous (these are only our suggestions, best to work out the categories based on your own needs). Put in each of the envelopes the monthly money you can spend for that category. Every time you need the money to go food-shopping, you will take the money from Groceries, every time you meet a friend for a latte, you should dig into the Coffee envelope. Once the envelope is empty, no more expenses for that category until next month. Don’t cheat! This will prevent you from going into debt, and really show you where you overspend. And last but not least, this way you are sure that you’ll always have money for the bills.
An excel spreadsheet will do. By keeping track of all your expenses, you can effectively plan how much money to put in each of the envelopes according to your true needs rather than a lucky guess. This is not the most fun way to spend your time, but your pocket will be grateful. We would recommend doing it once a week, but you could also do it every two weeks or monthly.
4. Know your student discounts
Being a student is financially restricting. Many companies are aware of that and offer better deals for students. There are a lot of offers for students of which you are not aware, especially around your campus. Look around and don’t be shy to ask. Student offers do just apply to public transport, but everything from McDonalds to Apple. With a little research into deals for students, you can save quite a bit of extra money unexpectantly. Be sure to always keep your student ID with you so you can verify your student status. Even if you go to another city or another country, your student ID will still be able to get you a cheaper cinema ticket.
5. Know where the Financial Aid Office is
Sometimes, problems will occur. No matter how well you budget, an unexpected big expense can drain up your funds. Your car can break, or maybe it’ll be the washing machine. All universities should have a Financial Aid office where you can get advice in these situations, and possibly even a small loan. It is important to know where your Financial Aid Office is and what services they offer, as to avoid a nervous breakdown when your car/washing machine repair bill.
6. Get cheaper textbooks
College textbooks can be very, very expensive. Be smart and look around before you buy a brand new copy. Try asking students who previously did your course if anyone is selling their books. You could also look around campus for a second-hand bookstore. Other good alternatives are Amazon and e-bay. This might waste you some an extra hour or two, but can truly save you a fortune!
7. Part-time job
After a while, you will probably have to get a part-time job. Students jobs like waiting tables or working at a reception are rarely well-paid, so spend some time looking at other alternatives. Online jobs like private tutoring can be a very good and flexible option. They allow you to adjust your work according to your class schedule, and you can work from home. Moreover, if you are a tutor in the subject that you study, that can be an amazing reference later on!
Annabelle is part of the Content and Community team at SmileTutor, sharing valuable content to their own community and beyond.