It’s no secret that students are generally broke. They live off pot noodles and scrounge for bus money. While in school, students have big aspirations for the future. When graduation begins to creep up, they soon realize that their bank account is low and that they either need to move back home, or come up with some cash.
If you’re currently in school, there are some measure you can take so that you aren’t stressed about the lack of money you possess. There are ways to save for graduation, you just need to put together an action plan.
The following are some tips so that you can save money for when you graduate:
1. Create a Budget
- A budget can be your best friend. Due to credit and debit cards, many people do not keep track of their spending. If you were to write down every expense, you would quickly see where your money is going. If you do not have money in your account, don’t spend any on your cards. It’s as simple as that. If you do not have the funds, then you need to find ways to make some cash flow.
- By continually putting expenses on cards, you’re building debt, not savings. Many students like to make all their purchases by using cash. Label jars or envelopes with all your expenses; shopping, entertainment, transportation, etc. Based on your budget, put the cash in those jars or envelopes. You will see where your money is going. When the cash is gone, it’s gone. You will spend more wisely. Have a jar specifically for savings. Any extra change can be thrown in there, and rolled at the end of the month.
- Write out each expense that you have. What are your fixed expenses? Rent? Do you have car payments? Write down all the payments that do not change month-to-month. Now, write down all your variable expenses. This will be entertainment (pubs, going to dinner, the cinema, etc.), your mobile bill, holidays, clothing, alcohol, smokes, and anything that is not a fixed value.
- Now look at your income, and balance your budget. You can’t be spending more than you make. If you need more funds, then you need to focus on ways to get more money. You may need to cut back, so see where you can change your spending habits. You can’t save if you’re not covering your expenses to begin with.
- It may not be desirable, but cut the costs that are not a necessity. If you’re paying for cable, cancel that. If you have split Internet costs with your roommate for school purposes, get Netflix or watch shows online. There are always cheaper options. Go through your list of variable expenses and see where you can cut costs. Would you rather have cable and eat out once a week, or have some money when you graduate? You would be surprised how quickly these extra expenses would accumulate in a savings account.
- In terms of entertainment, get creative with your leisure time. Have a dinner party at your house with friends. Everyone can bring one item, and then it’s beneficial for everyone. Why not go for a bike ride? Or throw a frisbee around on campus. There are many options that are free, fun, and allow you to be more active.
2. Start saving now
- If you have a job, automatically take a portion of your paycheck and put it into a savings account. Any extra money you receive, should go into this fund. There are many ways to make a little extra money. Please refer to this article about earning extra money while studying. There a lot of odd jobs that can be done on the weekends when you do not have class.
- Ask around, people may need lawn work done, or a fence painted. You can always tutor other students, keeping your own skills sharp. Another great option is freelance work. Are you skilled in photography? Perhaps you’re good at writing or web design. There are plenty of options available.
- If you haven’t already, go into the bank and set up a student account. There are many perks regarding a student account, including free transfers, withdrawals, overdraft fees, and more. Keep on top of your finances through online banking. This allows you to visually see where your money is going.
3. Share Living Expenses With Others
- Rent and utility bills can add up quickly. It can be tempting to get your own space, but this may not be viable. If you want to save for graduation, you may need to suck it up. If you have the option to live at home, do so for a year or two. Save enough money to get a down payment together. All of this is attainable. You just need to spend wisely, while saving to the best of your ability.
- If you need some furniture for your apartment, steer away from new purchases. Go with your roommate, and shop at thrift stores or yard sales. You would be surprised at what you will find. Some pieces just need a good sand, a coat or two of paint, and they’re like new. Even better, they’re your creation.
- In terms of food costs, plan your shopping ahead of time. Sit down with your roommate(s) and make a shopping list. What is on sale this week? Take a look at the flyers. Once you’re at the store (don’t go on an empty stomach), stick to what’s on your list. If certain staple items are on sale, stock up. This will be items like toilet paper, toiletries, oats, canned goods, pasta, soap, etc.)
- As well, take advantage of store rewards. There are many grocery stores that allow you to accumulate points. You can then use these points to get free shopping. There are also many stores that provide student discounts. Take advantage of this wherever possible. For example, when I was in University, the local grocery store offered 10% for students on Tuesday. My roommates and I would do our big shop on that day. It may not seem like much, but an extra ten dollars can then be transferred to your savings account.
- You should also pack a lunch whenever you’re on campus. It can be tempting to buy food that is quick and fast. However, lunch on campus a couple times a week, adds up to a lot at the end of the year. You will not only save money, but you’ll be healthier. There are so many great options that are affordable, nutrient-rich, and easy. All of these cutbacks can go directly into a savings account.
4. Trade Up or Cash Out
- Odds are you have items in your closet that you do not need. Perhaps you have old textbooks. There are great programs to swap textbooks, or sell your used textbooks to other students. You can either use that money to buy your new textbooks, or put it away in your savings account. If your room is cluttered with shoes and sports equipment, sell some. Anything that isn’t being used can go. Not only will you make money, but you’ll free up space.
As you can see, there are many ways to cutback. Be money smart, getting into good spending habits. Once you’re more careful with your money, you will find that your savings will climb. Just because you’re a student, does not mean you need to be broke. Start making appropriate changes, and you will be able to save for graduation.