Seriously Smart Money Saving Hacks for Students
You’ve all heard the expression ‘Champagne taste on a beer budget’, but as a student, you are probably thinking: ‘Beer! More like a ‘bring your own tea bag and get free hot water’ budget!’
We know student life can be all kinds of tough. Including financially tough, but it doesn’t have to be so bad. When my brother came back from four years at Canterbury, I heard all kinds of insane student ‘life hacks’ although I don’t know how effective they were because I could swear he had scurvy and a major vitamin D deficiency…
We have come up with a list of sane PRACTICAL hacks to help you get the most out of your moolah while you are hitting the books. To save you time, we have broken these hacks down into categories too.
MONEY STRATEGIES AND GENERAL TIPS
- Step away from the credit card and pay with cash whenever possible. Parting with cold hard cash, rather than ‘tap ‘n goin’ makes spending a lot more difficult. Also, when you go out somewhere, only take a certain amount of cash to prevent impulse spending. If you don’t have it with you – you can’t spend it!
- When you get paid on a certain day, make sure you have money automatically being deducted to start paying off student debt. Also, have some being put into a saving account. It doesn’t have to be a lot! Just a small amount each week/ fortnight will start to add up, and you will be able to afford that new MacBook Pro/ OE before you know it!
- Set up a budget (link to fun personalised budgets – yay) – Work out what your expenses are and allocate money accordingly. What are your 100% fixed expenses (rent, power, internet, phone, etc..) What are some you can be a little more flexible with? (Food, clothing, toiletries…) What are luxury items? (a night out, an Audible book, a new hairdryer…) What about an emergency fund? (New car tyres, prescription glasses, doctors’ appointments…)
- Put those random coins in a jar hidden away somewhere and take them out at the end of each month and use it for something you’ve been wanting/ needing. (“Or save/invest it!” the accountant in me is screaming!)
HAVING FUN ON A BUDGET
- Bored? Don’t subscribe to paid TV. If you get free/ unlimited WiFi, just watch content online.
- The world is a playground! Get outside and take advantage of parks and outdoor activities such as picnics, swimming, and sports.
- Both on and off campus you will find free, fun events – maybe the drama students are hosting a play? Or the art students have a gallery opening?
- Cities often have all sorts of free events and fun things going on too (often where food and drink might be provided). Some ideas include event openings, library events, community fairs for samples and tastings, house parties, and free tours at factories, breweries, newspapers, etc…
- Join or create a social group (book club or coffee tasting with friends).
- Find a cheap bar that does happy hour and/ or student discounts! (Even better if they have bottomless bar snacks!)
If you haven’t already subscribed to the minimalist trend, you should! It’s all the rage to be able to fit your life into a backpack… Ha-ha-ha! If you are not quite there yet – here are some tips to help you navigate shopping whilst living the student dream:
- Reassess your phone plan and get a cheaper one. Often a new deal comes but you are oblivious that you could be paying $9.99 rather than $29.99 per month – pays to check. That’s an extra bottle of wine my friend.
- Shop around! There are hosts of websites (like PriceSpy) that can help you see who is selling that item for the best price.
- Online shopping can be a dangerous game but is very effective if used correctly. It saves on parking and gas or bus fares and can be done from bed while eating 2-minute noodles. Just make sure you opt for places that offer free delivery.
- Share the love: Lend and borrow books, clothes swap with friends, have potluck meals with others, barter your expertise with mates (“Swap a haircut for some graphics work?”)
- Bulk buy and save if you tend to purchase a lot of certain items.
FOOD & HEALTH
- Meal prep, cook at home, make your own lunch and eat before you go out, so you are not tempted by fast food and expensive junk. Often the healthiest foods are the cheapest: rice, oats, pasta, beans, frozen vegies and tinned food is inexpensive and tasty too!
- Do you have space for a garden somewhere? Even a small one is great for growing herbs or the odd lettuce. Buying seeds and rotation planting bits and pieces can really save you a lot over a year
- Buy fruit cheap when it is in season and preserve/ freeze it for the months when you would otherwise be without it. Stew apples and feijoa from Autumn for your porridge right through to Spring etc..
- You don’t need a gym to get in shape. Just exercise at home – yoga, ‘freeletics,’ riding a bike, running, walking, swimming, even borrow a friends weights – or better still train together to keep each other motivated.
- Community gardens + fruit trees. Are there any near you that you can access?
- Does your part-time job provide meals during your shift? Often the restaurant industry will provide snacks or whole meals for their staff. Depending on how many days you work that could be a lot less money you need to spend on food.
- Local sports clubs often have cheap food evenings (roast meals/ burgers etc..) on a certain night of the week. Get amongst that, and you might even discover a new sport and make some new friends.
- Don’t use a car if you can avoid it and you will save a lot! Goodbye car maintenance, gas, rego, WOFs, insurance, and parking! Use your legs, a bike, or public transport with student rates if you can.
- Grab-a-Seat, Air BnB, and couch surf your way around NZ and the world if you are in need of a cheap getaway between semesters.
- Carpool or take advantage of free transportation with campus shuttles if your campus provides them.
- Take advantage of free lodging and good exchange rates with study abroad programs.
JOBS & INCOME
- Hooray for Student Job Search – They often have cool little jobs you can fit around study and give a bash for extra cash.
- Try recruitment agencies for temp work and build up your experience in a range of areas – customer service, administration, communication etc.
- Tutor students in years below you or freelance in your area of expertise.
- Comedian? Got a musical talent or know how to pull a never-ending silk scarf from your nose? Maybe you should consider busking? Those guys make a small fortune sharing their not so hidden talents with the world!
- Volunteer work is amazing- not only do you get experience doing something practical and have something to put on your CV, but you also get to meet great contacts, and these can lead to paid work.
- Sell your stuff: Get rid of stuff you don’t need any longer by selling it online/ via school and community notice boards.
- Get paid to shop as a mystery shopper or sign up to be called upon for paid research events. They could be about anything from chewing gum or ice cream to banking and lawn mowers! (Often these pay about $80-$100 for an hour!)
It’s been a while since we were at university but we think it would have been handy to have a few extra tricks up our sleeves back then to help us be smarter with our money. We would love to hear from you if you have any great stories about how you saved while you were studying. Hopefully, these tips will help students to clear debt and get ahead while studying to become the next talented wave of professionals, entrepreneurs, and business owners. Who knows, Accountants Plus might just be the ones helping you manage your money one day!