For many students, budgeting and managing their finances are a nightmare. It might be your first time being responsible for all your expenses on a regular basis, or just that you have bad habits and tend to splurge on things when you shouldn’t.
Either way, living on a student budget is difficult. So here are some tips on how to save your money and build good spending habits while you're still in school. Trust us; these tips will help you till you graduate from uni!
1. Buy used textbooks and sell them when you are done with them
Books are expensive, and often available second-hand through seniors, or even some bookstores around campus. So, save your money and don’t buy brand new textbooks that you’ll barely use for four months.
2. Never go grocery shopping hungry
When you go grocery shopping hungry, you tend to get a lot of food you may be craving but will not eat when you get back. Or worse, you will buy a lot of junk food which will affect both your health and your budget. Remember to make a shopping list and stick to it. Also, it is a good idea to go grocery shopping in the afternoons, when there are fewer people.
3. Limit the number of times you eat out
Eating out is a lot more expensive than cooking your meals. Small, simple meals that require little to no effort can also save you a lot of money compared to eating out every day. It adds up.
4. Use cash, not card
It’s great to have one for emergencies, but when you start paying with your debit or credit card instead of cash, you can lose track of how much you’re spending. You often end up buying things without thinking of the costs because you aren’t handling the money, just swiping a card.
How will you know if the credit card you currently own is the right one for you or not? Simple, just check out our credit card comparison page to make a better informed decision!
5. Shop when there are sales
Take advantage of back-to-school sales and holiday promotions! There’s nothing more exciting than going shopping and finding out that the item you've been eyeing has a 50% discount. Or maybe there is? We love to shop.
6. Look out for student discounts
Many restaurants, cafes, even clothing stores will have student discounts. Also, places like theme parks, amusement parks, museums, movie theatres, etc. might also have student specials. Take advantage of your student card while you still have it.
7. Compare prices of expensive items online
Always shop smart. If the same item is available at another store for RM50 less, you know what you have to do — and this happens with groceries too. Upscale stores may add a dollar here and a dollar there to all their items. Accumulate any grocery item over a lot of trips, you could be spending RM100 and more on groceries a semester without even realising it! Try to shop smart.
8. Use public transport
Don’t take cabs or drive everywhere. Public transportation is both cheaper and better for the environment. So, do your part for both the world and your wallet and take the train/bus.
9. For short distances, get a bicycle, or even walk — it’s healthy and inexpensive
The title says it all, plus you leave a smaller carbon footprint on Earth. Win-win situation! But always remember to stay safe, not travel alone when you feel it is a dangerous or isolated area, and let a friend or family member know about your whereabouts and destination.
10. Sell items you no longer need
There are many online marketplaces for students to sell their used goods, like bar-fridges, mattresses, clothes, books, bicycles, etc. Sell what you don’t need to get more money and space in your room!
11. Don’t get a fancy gym membership, use your university’s gym or go for a jog outside
You are paying for all your campus facilities, so make use of them. Most universities have fully equipped gyms and swimming pools available for all their students. Try using those instead of signing up for a fancy gym membership. Plus, you’re more likely to go to something that’s on campus and already close to you, and you can bring a friend along!
12. Save electricity — turn off lights, unplug chargers and turn off electronic devices when not in use
If you’re living off campus, or have to pay electricity/air conditioning bills on campus, try not to waste electricity. It’s a good idea even if you don’t have to pay for it because you’re not wasting energy and saving the environment.
13. Collect change in a jar — it adds up
10 cents here and 50 cents there – who’s going to keep track of that? But if you have a jar in your room where you empty your coin purse every few days, the change adds up!
14. Use WhatsApp, Skype and other apps rather than spending money on texts and calls
Your phone bill can add up to quite a lot if you’re a heavy user. There are thousands of apps that will provide the same services for free. Use them and save your money!
15. Recycle gifts you don’t want
Often we receive gifts we can’t imagine using, ever. But they’re from friends or family who mean well. Those times, the best idea is just to recycle the gifts and re-gift it to someone who would appreciate it more. Of course, keep track of who gives you what. It would be embarrassing to give someone their gift back!
16. Do your own manicures
As a student, beauty treatments and expensive spa packages are most likely out of your budget, especially on a regular basis. Buy an inexpensive manicure kit or facial mask and learn to manage your grooming regimen.
17. Most importantly, make a budget!
If you don’t have a budget, you will not remember how much you can spend on a category, like eating out or movies; and if you don’t have an account, you won’t keep track of how much money you are spending. It’s important to plan out your finances and review how you are doing so that you can adjust and stay on track. Good luck!
This article is brought to you by EasyUni.my, Malaysia’s first and largest online portal. EasyUni offers a comprehensive and complete platform for college and university applications for school leavers and working adults with over 70,000 courses and programmes from 2000 colleges and universities across more than 20 countries.