As I am a student, I am on a budget. I figured I’d share some of my best tips for still having a “fun” life whilst on a budget. Because it is not impossible! You just have to prioritize a bit (which I guess is sort of obvious). I didn’t make a budget until a few years ago. I wish I had done it at the beginning when I moved out, but hopefully these tips can inspire someone else. Do leave your own tips in the comments if you have some too!
MAKE A BUDGET
The first step on the way to a more manageable life as a student is definitely to make a budget. It doesn’t have to be crazy complicated. You don’t have to use a spreadsheet if you don’t know how to make one, you can even take a piece of paper and write it all down if thats what you prefer. All you need is a simple overview of your income and expenses. Then you know what amount is left to spend on fun things. If however you DO want to know what you spend all your money on then I would suggest you save your receipts and write each item down (this is easiest done in a spreadsheet I must admit). This way you will know if you spend a little too much on to-go coffee or if you order too much take-away. A good overview is the way to go.
CREATE A MEAL PLAN
I will be the first to admit that it can be hard to follow this one, but it is really helpful to do. I think we all know how it goes when we go to the grocery store without having an actual plan; You end up with a lot of things you don’t really need. However, by creating a meal plan you know exactly which ingredients you need and you can more easily stick to your shoppinglist.I do try to plan my dinners every week. My breakfast and lunch is a lot less planned, but I do tend to eat leftovers for lunch or bake sandwich buns which I can use for lunch at work, uni or home. I’m a great fan of baking my own bread. When I do have classes around lunch time I do sometimes end up buying lunch at my UNI’s cafeteria. It’s not too expensive and you can mix your own salad and such. But it would of course be cheaper if I made my own – but that’s a choice of budgeting. Some days I bring my own food, on others I take the easier way and buy it.
A lot of people forget check out the market for insurances properly but you could definitely save money by calling a few companies and hearing what each of them can offer. I did my research before I picked mine. And last year I compared prices online to check mine still offered what was best for me (and my budget). Insurance is something you should always have. You never know what might happen be it a fire or burglary, etc. This is a subject my mom has always taught me to take very seriously. And I’m glad she’s always made that clear to me. I remember last year seeing a post in my facebook feed from an old friend saying her apartment had been broken into and that she had no insurance and she needed help. I felt sorry for her but in that moment I was thankful for my mom teaching me the importance of insurance.
USE YOUR STUDENT ID
I think you’d be surprised to know how many places actually offers student discount. I learned that my local bakery (where I sometimes sit and study) offers a 30% student discount on hot beverages when the kind girl behind the counter asked if I was a student. But don’t wait for them to ask – YOU might as well ask. There’s absolutely no harm in asking, worst case scenario is that you get a ‘no’.
BUY USED BOOKS
This may be a no-brainer, but instead of buying brand new books you can save a lot on buying them used, or even by heading to your local library to borrow them. Sometimes, on rare occasions for me, you can even get an e-book. But I honestly prefer “real” books where I can scribble notes with my pencil and highligt text. I remember a few semester ago I had a crazy expensive semester. Had I bought all the books from new it would have been 3000DKK (£300) but I managed to get a hold of a couple of used books and ended up spending half of that. Sometimes the required book is brand new and you can’t get around buying it unused, but remember to check amazon and other websites to see where you can get it cheapest!