Student Finance: Money Saving Tips for University First-Timers By Emma Miller

Going off to college is the time when you’ll acquire some skills that might help you live more comfortably both during your studies and later in your life. One of those skills is managing money and developing financial responsibility. Since many students live on a tight budget, they need to acquire some budget-friendly habits that will help them cut any unnecessary expenses and even increase their savings. Here are some money-saving tips that will make your college life more comfortable and enjoyable.

Outline Your Budget Limits

By creating a budget every month, you’ll know exactly how much you can spend and you’ll be able to minimize the risk of exceeding those limits. If you’ve built up a nest egg or received a lump sum, you’ll start spending your money more carelessly and eventually empty your account. However, if you place some restrictions on your spending, you’ll be more careful with your money.

Make a List of Your Expenses

Take a sheet of paper and divide it into three columns – utilities, necessities and additional expenses. Since your utility bills are pretty much the same every month, you can set aside money for that first. Necessities include things like, food, shampoo, toothpaste, toilet paper and the like. Write down everything you can think of that you simply have to buy that month. The last column should be for any additional expenses like library and laundry charges, public transport passes, etc. By making this list, you’ll be more aware of your spending and able to cut any unnecessary expenses that aren’t on the list.

Look for Discounts

One of the perks of being a student is having discounts, so take advantage of it. if you want to go to the movies, find out whether you can get a student deal and buy the ticket at a lower price. The same goes for restaurants, bars, recreation centers, etc. In addition, you should collect coupons and look for special offers in supermarkets and other stores. This way, you might be able to get something you need for even twice as less money. You can also come across 3-for-2 offers for a range of products in supermarkets, so keep your eyes open.

Buy Food First and Learn How to Cook

Once you’ve paid your rent, you should go grocery shopping. Getting your monthly supply will prevent you from ordering a pizza because you don’t have anything else to eat. In addition, buying in bulk is generally more budget-friendly, especially if you find special offers and discounts.

Another food-related habit that you must adopt is cooking. Eating in restaurants and ordering food is much more expensive than cooking yourself. Even college canteens can charge a lot for a meal that you can prepare for half as less. If you can’t squeeze in cooking into your everyday schedule, you can pick a day when you’ll cook meals for the rest of the week and then freeze them. This way, you’ll avoid any unnecessary expenses like ordering food and always have a healthy meal at hand.

Take Advantage of Freebies

Instead of spending a fortune on a night out in a club, you should find out whether there’s a fun event free of charge. If you live in a city, there are probably plenty of interesting events that you don’t have to pay for. Feeling like going to the movies? See whether there’s an open-air movie night somewhere in the city. Art exhibitions, concerts, book promotions and workshops are probably available for free – all you need to do is find out where.

Increase Your Income

If your parents support you, you should start making your own money. Not only will this help you maximize your income, but you’ll also help them out while gaining valuable experience. A lot of students have part-time jobs that enable them to live more comfortably. In addition, any kind of working experience will make a difference for your future employment, regardless of whether you have a job related to your major. However, you shouldn’t work too hard because you still have to study and attend lectures. A part-time job is a much better option for students than full-time employment. So, browse through freelance jobs online or job listings in newspapers to see whether there’s something for you. If the money gets tight, you can seek finance advice and learn how to organize your budget better.

Get a Gift Card

A great way to limit your spending is getting a gift card. Since prepaid gift cards have a limited amount and can be used in particular stores, you’ll have to manage your spending more carefully. You’ll have to keep an eye out for discounts and offers in certain stores, plan your expenses in advance and stay within the card limits.

By adopting these budget-friendly habits, you’ll develop financial responsibility that will enable you to live more comfortably both during your studies and later on in your life.