Saving money as a student doesn’t have to be hard, and definitely doesn’t have to involve sacrificing sleep or a social life. Of course, it’s always helpful to have a part-time job, but if you’re relying on your parents or a little help from the government, it’s still possible. Here are a few tips on how to save money while on a student budget.
Set some #goals
One of the best things you can do is be specific with what you want your savings account to look like, and be realistic. Your personal goal will differ from other people, based on your employment status, salary and expenses (we’ll get into this). Setting a reasonable, achievable goal might take some trial-and-error, but be real with yourself. If your goal is to save $50 a week, and you find yourself having $70 leftover and choosing to spend the extra $20 you could have put away, you may need to reevaluate your goal to reflect your saving ability.
Get a dedicated smart bank account
Don’t hold your spending money in the same place as your savings. One boozy night out with access to all your money might result in another week of Mi Goreng meals. Once you’ve chosen your savings goal, a smart bank account such as the AMP Bett3r account can automatically divide your income between your savings, bills/payments and spending accounts whenever you get paid, doing all the hard work for you. You can also do this manually, but why? Make life easier by signing up for a smart bank account.
Slow and steady wins the budgeting race
It’s perfectly fine to have big goals in mind when setting off on your savings adventure, but it’s important not to overwhelm yourself. You’ll have much more success starting off with a small regular amount of savings as opposed to putting away large lump sums which will be unsustainable to maintain in the long run.
We all spend recklessly sometimes, so here are a few small changes you can make in your daily life to have some extra cash in your pocket, without feeling like you’re sacrificing anything:
Don’t go grocery shopping while hungry
When all you can think about is food, you’re more likely to head straight for the confectionery aisle for a convenient and expensive snack rather than the produce section to plan a meal.
While you’re there, use a shopping list
If you don’t use a list, you’ll be more inclined to make impulse purchases, such as that big block of chocolate on sale that you’d be crazy not to buy, or a pre-packed frozen meal because you haven’t planned what to cook.
Work on your culinary skills and save money at the same time by doing one grocery shop at the end of the week and preparing your food beforehand. One search of “meal prep” on Pinterest will have you set with recipes for life.
Make your own coffee
You’ve heard this one before. But seriously, even if you only buy one cup a day, at almost $4 a cup ($3.62 average nationally to be exact), that could be an extra $20 in your pocket every week, or $1,040 a year. Crazy.
Don’t buy bottled water
There’s no need. It’s bad for the environment and your wallet. Grab a reusable bottle which should last you a few months. This can set you back as little as $10 from Woolies to something like $40 for a Frank Green Smart bottle with app integration which tells you how much you’ve saved from swapping out plastic bottles.
Pop some tags
You’ve only got $20 in your pocket, so hit up those op shops and score yourself a bargain. You’d be surprised by what you might find.
Buy second-hand textbooks
If you even need to buy them in the first place. Many libraries, particularly at schools and universities, will have textbooks available for lease which you can photocopy or spend a few days making your own notes. Or just borrow a friend’s book and photocopy what you need. Shouting them lunch as a thank you is cheaper than buying the book yourself.
You’d be surprised at just where you can take advantage of student discounts.
Pubs, hairdressers and clothing stores are just some of the places you can flash your student card to save some cash. If you’re not sure whether there is a student discount available, just ask!
Student life is meant to be enjoyed, and being financially savvy does not have to mean sacrificing a social life. The secret is to set realistic financial goals, stick to them and make small changes in the way you spend your money regularly – do this and you’ll be making bank in no time!
Darren James of MBA Financial Strategists is an Authorised Representative of AMP Financial Planning Pty Ltd, ABN 89 051 208 327, AFS Licence No. 232706. Any advice given is general only and has not taken into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this, before acting on any advice, you should consult a financial planner to consider how appropriate the advice is to your objectives, financial situation and needs.