Though we all have our days where we wish we were university students again, we know about students and their financial burdens.
26 April 2016| Last updated on 23 May 2017
With low-incomes and high expenses, student life can be financially overwhelming for undergrads, but have no fear young grasshoppers, there are ways to save up and secure your future!
As students, one of the most important things to keep in mind is your income and expenses.
If you’re spending too much money during your time at university, chances are, you are accumulating debt, which is a pain to pay off after graduation (trust us, we’ve been there)!
If you spend too little, you might resent the idea of going to university and not engaging in social activities that would often require you to spend money. So, where is the silver lining?
Believe it or not, with some small lifestyle adjustments and sacrifices, there are ways that you can save without having to compromise your standard of life – you get the best of both worlds!
Money is a major source of anxiety for most people, and being a student with low income and struggling to pay high expenses is no exception. Here’s how you can save some money and still be able to make the most out of your university experience.
First and foremost make a budget
Understand your basic spending.
Allocate a value for your necessary, basic living expenses (rent, utility, food etc.) and another value for your social life, but don’t splurge over your social life value, you still need to save up some money!
This budget will help you understand how much money you need in a month and how much you’re spending.
This will not only help you learn more about your spending habits, but it can also help you to cut-back on unnecessary expenses as well.
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Shopping for a home
While it is said to be cool to finally live alone with your friends, off-campus and away from those pesky resident advisors, living off-campus can cost a load more than living in a dorm on-campus, not to mention that you will likely be paying for the summer months when you aren’t even using the apartment!
Think carefully before renting your living space and take into account your budget for the full year, not just for your first semester!
When it comes to living arrangements, we all want something nice and spacious, maybe even posh.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but as students you will be getting a much smaller dorm that you envisioned, and will have roommates and limited amenities.
While this may not be your ideal living desires that you have always wanted, it may not necessarily be as bad as you think!
Give it a try! After all, imagine living in a dorm with other roommates that are studying just like you! It’s not only an opportunity to meet new friends, but you’ll also have study buddies, motivators and some pretty cool people who will bring with them a network of friends, so technically speaking, living with roommates will result in your social life soring high my friend!
Learn to cook
While your school likely offers several meal plan options, and the surrounding areas also offer several good food options, the best way to save money on food is to cook yourself.
Just think about how much it would cost you to buy a plate of spaghetti at the local diner, versus if you just made your own pasta at home… do you see what I mean?
And luckily for today’s generation, they have a magical tool called the internet, which can give them any recipe they want with a click of a button! What could be simpler?
Recycle old material
As you know, books are expensive.
We are talking about hundreds of dollars being spent on books per semester! A good way of making fast cash is to sell your books when you are done using them.
Let’s face is, as much as you say you will have use for the books in the future, the truth is they will sit in your home collecting dust, so put them to good use and sell your books to the devastated souls who are in the bookstore line, dreading over how much they will pay for their books.
Similarly, there’s no need for you to buy brand new books, get a used book and pay half the cost! And if that is still too expensive, skip the whole buying a book process and opt for the more sensible approach and borrow the book from the library!
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Take advantage of the ‘free’ amenities
Contrary to what you may think, the incredibly expensive tuition fee that you pay every year, does not only cover your courses and degree.
In fact, your tuition pays for a number of ‘free’ facilities that you probably didn’t know about.
These facilities can include on-campus entertainment, gym memberships, sports activities, guest lectures, student clubs, movie rentals and more!
Don’t let yourself get bored at home with the itch to go out and spend money unnecessarily! Go and check out the facilities at your university, get familiar with them and take advantage of them!
This will save you a heap of money when you’re looking to do something outside of studying!
Rent your appliances
Did you know, some schools have a low-cost rental program for appliances such as mini fridges, vacuums, crock pots, and microwaves?
If your school doesn’t have such a program, there are companies who are willing to rent these appliances for a minimal cost.
Going out to buy groceries, social dinners or regular everyday errands with the car has its own gas expenses that will unexpectedly sneak up on you.
Avoid driving everywhere, if you can’t walk, try a carpool system, after all, I am sure your friends and dorm mates are likely going to the same place.
Hitch a ride with a friend and make a habit of taking turns driving, that way you can all collectively save money on gas.
Don’t be scared to ask about financial aid
If you’ve got personal circumstances that have not been easy on you financially, you may be eligible for financial aid.
Although the financial aid requirements are clearly stated in the application, if your circumstances have changed from your enrollment in university, and the financial aid application does not cover your circumstances, request to open a financial aid case and make sure you are heard by the policy makers.
Each university has its own set of rules regarding finances. Although it is not guaranteed if in fact the case will be in your favour, you’ve got nothing to lose by trying.
Like elder folks, students get a special student discount.
Although it may not seem like a huge mark-down, it will add up and it will be worth it!
Make sure you have your student id with you at all times and get discounted access to different stores, movie theatres, and even dinner and other social gatherings!
When you’re a student, a credit card is virtually the last thing you need, because it is just another way of adding to your expenses and debt.
Let’s put this into perspective:
You, the vulnerable, puzzled yet bright student is now in university and living independently. You’ve got bills piling up and your low-income job is just enough to make you survive, so you decide to get a credit card. What’s the harm anyways? A few dollars here and a few dollars there, you’ll pay them back immediately right? WRONG!
So wrong in fact, because the average university student graduates with an estimated $2000 in credit card debt!
Remember, you’re paying interest and chances are, once you get into the habit of spending through your credit card, you just won’t stop.
Avoid this whole mess by keeping your credit card aside in a hidden wallet compartment and only leave this for the absolute dire emergencies, and make sure to pay it off immediately!