You have just started University or College. Money has become a huge matter because the expenses have increased. You decide to get a student loan or perhaps a scholarship but financial aid can be very complicated and there are many other students just like you. When you do have money, you lose track on when and where you spent it. So here are a few helpful hints on budgeting and economizing your way to a better lifestyle.
Before considering the idea of borrowing money, do explore all options of gift aid possible like rewards from associations or religious affiliations. These are like mini cash aids. One association might give you 100 dollars, another perhaps 50 dollars. These small amounts can add up to a big one.
Spend some time at the beginning of the course semester; by the time you get used to your daily routines, you can plan your finances. Have a record comparing your income and expenditure. Plan on how to maximize your income and minimize your expenditure.
Keep a record in a book of what you spend. You might think the little expenses such as a candy bar here and a soft drink there would not hurt your pocket. But it is these small things that eat into your wallet. Scribble down every expense. After a week/month you can then check your outgoings and keep track of your expenditures. File all your receipts, bank statements, grant and loan details for future reference. Also check your monthly bank statements because mistakes are common.
If you have regular monthly income (like salary from work, or a student grant), do not be tempted to spend it all at once. Stretch that over a period of one month. Save the balance in your bank account.
Take up holiday jobs or even work part time after classes and during the weekends for extra income. A job can also help boost your career prospects when you graduate.
When possible, use public transportation or car pool. Many colleges provide free, on-campus shuttle bus service. If the journey is not too far, why not brisk walk to your destination. You saved on transportation fees and had a great workout thrown in as a bonus.
E-mail instead of phone calls. Not only is it cheaper, you can also reach more people at just one go. If you prefer calling, get a prepaid cell phone service, which helps you eliminate the monthly subscription fees. If you make frequent long distance calls, sign up for a medium quality international call provider instead of a high tech one because it is cheaper. Try out online messengers which provide video conferencing or phone call services. It is way cheaper.
Try applying for an in-state college or university so you can stay at home. Eliminating extra expenses like lodging fees.
Search for second-hand books rather than new ones. There sure will be graduates who wish to get rid of their old books.
Try and make cash withdrawals once a week at the bank you have an account with or its branches. Also keep the receipts for the withdrawals you make. Avoid carrying the cards with you.
Keep a simple lifestyle. Do not always spend unnecessarily and get rid of expenses that you do not need. For example a chocolate bar that costs 50 cents per day, in 10 days, you would have spent 5 dollars pacifying that sweet tooth.
Quit bad habits such as drinking, smoking and gambling. First, such habits will slowly kill you and secondly these habits waste money.
Be environmentally friendly. Switch off the lights when you leave the room and turn off the tap when you are done. Use both sides of a piece of paper and recycle the ones you no longer want. Recycling not only saves the earth but also helps to put some money back into your pockets.
When you are downloading stuff over the Internet or just simply listening to music on the computer, switch off the screen. The CPU requires only 40% of the power to run; the rest is taken up by the screen.
Invest in a coin box but not just any coin box; buy the ones without any ‘withdrawal’ holes in them. The clay figure ones are quiet cheap. Put in your spare change in them. Every cent counts.
Fixed deposits are a great way of cashing in. If you have a minimum amount of cash required by the bank, that you can spare for a short period of time, put it in a fixed deposit as the interest is higher compared to normal bank accounts. However, please check and see which bank offers a higher interest. Another good option would be to invest in a mutual fund. Check out your nearest bank for further information because each bank has a different policy and interest rate.
Have long term goals such as buying a car and then create a fund to buy the car by putting money aside each month. In the end, even if you no longer wish to buy a car, there will be money for other things.
Adeline Ong © 2006