As a cash-strapped student, it's all too easy to go over budget when yet another wild night out comes calling. You might find yourself wanting a new pair of jeans, or want to add another DVD to your collection, but find yourself penniless after blowing this weeks or months designated allowance. After all, that's what the loan is for, right? Here you will find 7 great money saving tips for students to help you get the most of your loan.
In addition to increasing your wealth, these tips can help set you up for life to avoid unnecessarily wasting money when it could be better spent elsewhere.
1. Draw out a realistic budget
Simply working out how much you can afford to spend after other bills have been taken care of can give you a realistic figure of how much you have available to spend each week or month. A budget can help you look at financial matters realistically, and help you decide on how much you have to spend after all the important things such as rent, food, bills, books have been taken care of. Don't forget to include other monthly financial commitments such as your phone bill, credit card payments, and the like. These are easily overlooked, and could land you in a lot of hot water if they are not taken into account.
Aside from helping you to save money as a student, learning how to budget your money efficiently can put you in good stead financially for the rest of your life.
2. Pay with cash
This one can work either way, but the idea is that if you pay everything with cash, then it will be easier to keep a track on your spending. This is because card payments can take a few days, or even a week to clear, and are easy to forget about. You know where you are financially when you pay with cash, and as an added bonus, your bank balance remains in easy to handle denominations.
However, the flip side of paying with cash is that once you have a few coins in your pocket, they become all too easy to spend on non-necessities. Which leads on to the next tip:
3. Put all of your spare change into a jar
Putting your spare change into a jar can quickly add up to a decent amount of money without you even realising it. What would be even better is investing in one of those tins with a money slot. When the tin is full, use a tin opener to get inside and relish the money you have saved. A lot of banks now have a service where you can pour any amount of unsorted change into a drawer, and it will sort it out for you and put it right into your account. Great or what?
4. Invest in a student discount card
For a one-off fee, or sometimes a small annual fee, student discount cards are there to save you money. While some of the savings may at first seem minimal, they soon add up. It is also worth asking if somewhere offers a student discount even if they don't advertise it. If you don't ask, you'll never know.
Along with a student discount card, a fair amount of establishments offer a bonus or loyalty card. So for example if you frequent a certain coffee outlet, for every certain amount of purchases you make, you could get a free coffee. As with the discount card, these savings can add up very quickly.
5. Buy in bulk
This mainly applies to food, but can be applied to almost anything. If you are living with a few other people, consider buying large industrial sized packets of commonly consumed items such as pasta, rice and beans. As long as portions are divided equally, this is a great way to save money as a student.
6. Check out charity shops
For some people, buying from a charity shop can be a bit of a taboo. But, as a student, you want to save money! You can find some great bargains in charity shops, and often you can come across some designer gear for a fraction of the retail price. And if you look hard enough, you may even come across some much needed text books to help you with your studies, without having to pay the incredibly high prices.
7. Keep yourself occupied
The principal behind this tip is that the more you have going on around you, the less likely you are to spend money out of boredom. If there are any clubs or societies you are interested in, sign yourself up right away! Although some clubs require a small fee for each activity, the cost could massively outweigh what you could potentially be spending simply because you are bored.
Following these tips will not only save you enormous amounts of money in the long run, but will help you save money all through life. Learning to budget properly is a skill that all too often goes ignored, yet will help you save your cash so you can buy the things you really want.