Thanks to a certain bushy eyebrowed politician, higher education is no longer free. Not only do today’s students have to repay the government for their education, but they enter the system at a time where the cost of living is through the roof. Studying in today’s world has been made more accessible by the internet but places a much more substantial financial pressure on the student.
So how are we meant to survive in a world where getting your bachelor’s degree carries the same financial responsibility as a house loan? It’s not easy, but some tips and tricks can help you as a student save money and prepare for your future.
The big B. Setting up a budget is the most significant step you can take towards saving money. Knowing the ins and outs of your finances and identifying areas in which you can reign in spending is invaluable to your financial plan. There are plenty of useful guides out there for setting up a successful budget, be kind and realistic with your self.
Save for your future
Don’t just save money, save for a purpose. Financial planning is important but saving without a goal makes it harder to keep putting away money. Establishing an emergency fund doesn’t sound “cool” but its sure beats being in debt over some unseen disaster. Identify any big purchase you may need to make as early as possible. Doing so will allow you to save slowly and reduce your need to take out a loan.
Save your loose change
In a society based on EFTPOS cards and online banking, it’s easy to forget what real money looks like. Small cash denominations are easily swept under the rug (sometimes literally), but over time these small amounts can add up. Save your loose change in a piggy bank; when it comes time to cash it in, you might be pleasantly surprised.
I kept two small piggy banks in my bedroom during my time at university. After a few weeks, tossing my loose change or “shrapnel” into the piggy banks became second nature. After nearly two terms of schooling had passed, I cracked the banks open to discover over $500 in loose change! No wonder they were so heavy.
Use the library
As a student, libraries are your best friend. Free internet, free books, and free entertainment, a library is a cheap home away from home. Many university libraries are equipped with decent computers, meaning you could always save money on a computer purchase by sticking to the library.
Take advantage of concessions and offers
Use your concession card as much as possible. Cheaper public transport is just one of the many perks of holding this card. Many businesses offer student-specific deals, like more affordable movie nights, etc. Join your local student association to keep track of deals and offers that could save you money.
For most items, buying new is a false economy. Visit op shops and second hair stores for any furniture you may need as well as homewares and clothing. Buying a used computer is a much better move than buying new even if you consider a new computer warranty. By only buying second hand, you not only save a considerable amount of money, but you are recycling and helping the planet. Environmentally conscious and rocking op shop clothes? You might just become the most popular person on campus.
Make your own food
I wish someone had told me this when I first started as a student. Making your own food makes you a better human. fact. Learning to cook for yourself is a valuable life lesson and will impress potential partners but even better than that, it will save you a ton of money. Preparing your own meals is cheap and allows you to take control of your nutrition.
The more you consume, the more money you spend, makes sense, right? Of course, you need food and water to survive, but what about that eighth beer at the university bar? Being excessive and wasteful is a bad look and will end up draining you of your money. Keep an eye on your energy consumption too, simple tricks like turning off lights that aren’t being used or going for a walk instead of watching TV can save you in the long run.
Saving money as a student might seem futile but cultivating a frugal mindset now will pay off later down the track. Remember what you are the university to achieve, and keep that as your focus. It’s so easy to get caught up in uni life and go broke; many a student has resorted to groveling to their parents for extra funds. Don’t be that person; you don’t have to be. Create a budget, be mindful of your habits and you may just leave university with more money than you started with.