Practical Ways You Can Save Money as a Student
A student shares tips that she's learned from experience on how to save money
A student from Singapore
Practical Ways You Can Save Money As a Student
I love coffee.
I drink it on the regular - slow, methodical sips of that dark smokiness lingering on my tongue. This life-giving substance is perhaps the only thing I look forward to on most days.
As a result, I buy a lot of coffee. A cuppa only costs $2, which is pretty cheap, right? But I usually buy two cups of coffee a day. And a standard university semester is three months long.
Oh god, I'm spending $240 a semester on coffee. Nobody told me about this. Is this why I'm poor?
Like me, many young people don't think about what we're spending our money on. In the words of Ariana Grande, we all go, 'I want it, I got it.' The only problem here is that we're not millionaires. We're just, well, poor students.
The other day, I was talking to a friend who told me he'd blown all his money buying games from the Steam summer sale and was now living on soup and rice.
I was horrified. "Why on earth would you do that?" I asked him. He replied, "Dunno, seemed like a good idea at the time."
It seems we've never really been taught to understand the financial ramifications of the decisions we make. We prioritise entertainment and materialistic desires over necessities like food.
Now, I'm not saying you should never buy things that make you happy. Moi, I spend about $65 a year on a VPN to stream shows from other geographic locations on Netflix. This is completely unnecessary to my survival, but it makes me happy.
However, when you make a financial decision, you should reflect on its necessity. Is it imperative for you to buy this? Will you use it? Will it give you long-term happiness as opposed to a short-term rush? Is there a cheaper substitute for it? After buying it, will you have enough money to pay for things you need, like rent?
Use that framework of evaluation to come to a decision. If possible, take a few days to really think about it. If that’s too much decision-making for you, perhaps you could design a monthly budget and allocate a specific proportion of it to entertainment. This way, you can make impulse buys without having to think too much about it.
If you're the organised type, create an Excel sheet to track your finances. If you're the disorganised type, check if your bank lets you create a budget so the amount you spend and the category it belongs to are automatically tracked.
Also, a word of warning to everyone - don't make decisions when you're drunk. It will not turn out well. If you have to, hide your electronic devices to prevent tomfoolery, like buying Minion onesies. You can, of course, still make bad decisions despite this, but at least they won't be online.
Speaking of alcohol - for a night out, bring cash, don't set up a tab, and tell your friends not to pay for you. This ensures you won't be spending $90 on overpriced vodka shots at a bar (yes, I did this once).
My final tip: take some small things home, like toilet paper, every time you visit your parent's house (if they’re okay with this, of course) so that you don't have to buy it yourself. Godspeed.
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