Ah, the university days. Where the schedules are flexible and the parties are hits. Where you have the freedom to do what you want without the expectations and responsibilities that come with being an adult.
Unfortunately, uni also comes with one glaring flaw: the lack of financial income. Sure, you can theoretically see new parts of the world on a break, but you probably don’t have enough money to book a flight. Or heaven forbid – buy a house.
But you may have the goal (or at least be thinking about) saving up for your first property and buying something sooner rather than later.
If you’re a student looking for a few ways to save money while in university, we have 8 tips for you – so that you can buy that property – or travel the world sooner than you imagined.
Leave Your Car at Home
Having a car on campus is incredibly liberating. You can go home at the drop of a hat and aren’t shackled to friends, shuttles, and public transportation.
Unfortunately, it’s an expense that many students can’t afford. Most campuses charge you to park in their lots, and you’ll still have to pay for petrol and regular maintenance, regardless.
Not to mention, your friends will likely nominate you as designated driver whenever you go out.
If you need the freedom of being able to leave the campus when you want, invest in a bike.
You’ll get some much-needed exercise, and a bike will give you a way to navigate large campuses quickly. Live too far from campus? Public transport often runs to universities and college campuses regularly. It’s a far cheaper option and could be totally worth it for you and your wallet.
Plus, you’ll have an extra bit of time to catch up on lectures, read or chill out during your commutes.
Utilise Student Discounts
You might not realise all of the places around you that offer a student discount. Anywhere from a movie theatre to a local bakery might have some form of student discount you can use while shopping there.
So, make sure you do your research before you buy!
Additionally, a lot of campuses have agreements with local event planners and businesses.
There may be a place on your campus where you can buy discounted tickets to movies or concerts.
Find out if your university has an active deal with any local businesses. Just being a student at a local university or college can save you a ton of money with your free time activities.
Make Smart Housing Decisions
Commuting to college from home is ideal financially, but it’s not always possible.
If you live on campus, try to find the cheapest place you can. Each university is different, and sometimes living off-campus will be more affordable in the long-run.
If you’re trying to save money as a student, do some research on where you can find the cheapest place to live in the area; it’s not always on campus.
Living with housemates while studying can also be super helpful when it comes to saving that dosh.
Buy Used Books and Sell Them Back
Buying used books and selling them back to your university is a great option. Trust us; you won’t need your intro to physiology book when you’re searching for a job.
In fact, you probably won’t even need it once the semester ends, so there’s no reason to pick up a pricey new textbook.
Textbooks take up one of the largest percentages of cost a college student incurs. Used books cost a fraction of what new books do, and they’re often in pristine condition.
If your campus doesn’t offer a used version of the textbook you need, look online. If you start your search early enough, you’ll doubtlessly have enough time to have your book shipped to you. Even better, you might be able to download the book online at a much cheaper price.
Selling the books back will cover some of the cost of your next batch of books as well.
Lastly, if you’re not going to use a certain textbook very much – borrow it from the library instead when you do need it. You’ll start to pick up on which textbooks you need more often than others.
Also check your textbook list or speak with your tutor to determine which textbooks are essential and which ones are optional.
Learn to Cook
If you have a kitchen, there’s no excuse for not learning how to cook.
There are thousands of “how to” videos online that will give you the basics, and you’ll be learning a skill that will serve you for the rest of your life.
Eating out is overly expensive, and it’s hard to get your money’s worth on a consistent basis. Eating out regularly is not that great for your health, either.
Buying groceries and cooking for yourself is not only cheap, but it’s also a huge step in the process of becoming a “real” adult.
By bringing your own alcohol to a party or uni event, you’re not only regulating your alcohol consumption for the night but saving some money in the process.
Alcohol is expensive, period. If you want to drink on a night out or at a party, don’t buy your booze when you’re out – save the money by bringing your own beer, wine or cider. More importantly, drink responsibly.
Learn How to Budget
College is one of the last times in life where people are generally free from responsibility. Money is one of the only things you’ll have to regulate when you get to university, and that won’t change once you leave.
There’s no better time to learn about budgeting. If you have a job or receive financial support from family, make a chart of how much money you have on a weekly basis.
After that, create categories for food, fun, savings, and bills (if you have any). Stick to this budget to make sure you’re not in the red when the next week starts.
Think Before You Open Your Wallet
We know that sometimes it’s easier said than done. But there are some easy changes you can make that won’t feel like big sacrifices at all.
Consider buying generic brands (they’re the same thing but cheaper), wherever possible. Don’t buy music – use the free versions of Pandora or Spotify. Consider making your own coffee, or switch to tea (either option will be cheaper than a cafe-bought latte).
You might not think a premium Spotify account and a few lattes here and there will add up to anything. But it does, little by little. And going for cheaper alternatives will barely make a difference.
Rather than partying, going to movies & gigs, shopping and going on holidays (sure, all of this is fun in moderation), try free activities. Go for a hike or beach trip with friends. Have a picnic. Cook something delicious and eat it by the water, watching the sunset. If you’re drinking, BYO and have a night in with mates.
Oh, and, do not enter a supermarket when hungry! Grocery shopping and stomach grumbles just don’t mesh. You’ll thank us later.
Start Saving Early
Be smart with your money while you’re in university, and you’ll start developing habits to last a lifetime.
Your dreams may not be as distant as they seem. Sure, you’re not earning a ton of money yet, but it’s what you do with the money you have, that counts.
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