etting an education is an essential step in bettering yourself and preparing for your future, but many of us struggle to afford the costs that come along with post-graduate studies.
A lot of people going into higher education are either not used to being financially independent from their parents, or they are already working hard to support themselves and their families, while saving for retirement and managing different savings accounts. They usually can’t see themselves having the extra cash lying around to pay for university or college costs.
The most important step to start saving money for the short term or the long term is to create a budget. The budget needs to be well thought out, taking all expenses and costs into consideration, and it needs to be realistic. There’s no point promising yourself that you’ll live off the bare minimum spending money every month, when you know you like to treat yourself to a new pair of shoes and a Big Mac every now and then.
Once you’ve created your budget, you need to stick to it. Here are the best saving tips for sticking to your budget while being a student:
When you become a student, your college or university will usually issue you with a Student ID card. You can use this ID card in a lot of stores, bars and restaurants to get around 10% off your purchases. This could save you thousands of dollars every year.
Creditcard Genius have created a list of the best student discounts available in Canada, using only your Student ID card. Every year they update their list with offers for electronics, stationary, online services, clothes, travel and more.
As well as using your Student ID card to get discounts, you can sign up for a ISIC Canada card, which opens a whole new world of student discounts up for the taking. They offer discounts on everything from home goods to makeup; from mobile phones to aquariums and are definitely a worthwhile way to save a lot of money while studying for your future.
Studying doesn’t have to be an exclusive time consumer for years of your life. A lot of people choose to get a job to fund their studies, or to increase their personal finances in general. Some people are choosing to study at a career college where they offer flexible learning opportunities to allow students to study without giving up their day jobs.
A side hustle doesn’t always mean having to find a part-time, or sometimes full-time, job to take up your spare time while you’re a student. You can also become your own boss by selling things either online or in-person. Almost everyone alive today has used eBay or Kijiji to find or sell second-hand products and save themselves the time and money of going to endless stores and facing the busy crowds. Do you have an artistic flare? Use Etsy to sell your own paintings, digital art or crafty creations, or visit your local library, art cafes, and independent shops to sell your works of art.
You can offer local services to your neighbours. Maybe they have a dog that needs to be walked, a lawn that needs to be mowed, or a baby that needs to be sat. Make your own flyers, or go door to door to offer your help and make some extra cash.
Not only is a car bad for the environment, but it’s also a huge money-eater. Save money on gas and maintenance by forgoing your motor and using public transit. A monthly bus pass will get you to and from where you need to be, without eating away at the ozone layer or your wallet.
If you don’t like the idea of sitting amongst the general public while travelling, invest in a decent bicycle to get you where you need to go. Cycling improves your stamina and health, and saves you the time that you would usually spend being stuck in traffic jams, all while saving you money in the long run.
Walking is another good way to save money on transport, while also allowing you to have some time to yourself to reflect and maintain great mental health. Choose the best higher education for you that’s within walking-distance, or one that offers online learning options to give you the time away from campus to concentrate on your studies.
It’s hard to save money while studying when you’re constantly worried about keeping up with the rent payments or if there will be unexpected bill payments this month. Sharing a home with your family or friends is a great option to consider while attending college or university.
Splitting expenses with a roommate or two can help you save money and alleviate the stress of keeping up with expensive bills and rent payments. You can band together to pay for the weekly grocery shop and have an emergency fund that you all contribute to.
If you have children or pets, living with family members may be a better option while you’re studying. There will always be someone to help out, and you can save on childcare and pet-sitting costs.
This doesn’t mean giving up your credit cards and living in the woods. It simply means using cash when you would usually swipe your card. Using cash instead of a credit or debit card can help you save money and stick to your budget. Your brain can physically see the money you are spending and can see when it’s time to tighten your wallet or if you have the budget to let loose a little.
When planning your budget, give yourself a weekly allowance in cash that you withdraw at the beginning of the week. Take your daily cash out with you and try not to spend more than you have on you. This might even mean that you have a few extra dollars to spend on something small that day or put it into a savings account with a decent interest rate to make the most of your spare change.
If carrying cash isn’t your thing, you can make an effort to write down and keep track of your spending as you pay for things, so you’re always aware of the remaining cash allowance for the day. Or use an online spending tracker or an app to stay on track.
Buying second-hand or used products is becoming a common occurrence and it doesn’t look like it will be slowing down any time soon. As more and more people realize that fast-fashion and cheaply made products are not only bad for the environment but taking advantage of struggling people, they are turning towards thrifting and recycling goods instead of buying new.
People throw out or donate perfectly good clothes, textbooks, household items, and furniture simply because they are in a different place in their life - not because the items are broken or faulty.
Dining out costs money, and it’s not even always that great. Limit your restaurant visits to two or less times per month and instead cook for yourself at home. Or even go one further and grow your own food.
More and more people these days are dedicating an area of their home or garden to growing herbs, spices, fruit and vegetables. It’s better for the environment and it’s cheaper for you in the long run. Start off by growing simple and easy to maintain foods that you can benefit from in the long run, before eventually having your own indoor vegetable kit to help you be in control of your food intake and your finances.
Grocery stores also have a section for reduced or unwanted items at a discounted price. The food is not bad or used, but it’s cheap. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, after all.
Almost every college or university will offer financial aid to their students, and it’s there for a reason. It’s common for students to take out a student loan or apply for a grant to help them make their educational experience affordable.
ABM College’s Student Loan Officer, Janica Dacayanan, is there to provide support for students who are struggling to keep up with their studies due to financial stress, “I help students apply for their student loans and understand the benefits of student financial aid”.
Taking out a loan or other financial aid is often a small price to pay for the benefits of a college or university education: “Make financially sure you are able to study at a college that’s perfect for you. Getting a college education is a form of security. ABM college is here to offer high quality education that will provide you college-level skills and knowledge that will lead to a better-paying job which will aid in the repayment of your student loan.”
The truth is budgeting is hard and requires a lot of discipline and focus on the end goals. You need to be strict, tactful and smart with your spending to get the most, financially, out of your educational experience. These are just a few tips and tricks to bear in mind when thinking about how to save money as a student. For more advice for students about saving money when giving gifts, check out our blog about Gift Ideas Your Date Will Love If You're On A Student Budget.