budgeting as a student
This summer is, for many of us, the time where we leave our home and move - to go to college or university in another city, to spend a year abroad, to stay on our own feet. Living on your own is great - whether that’d be alone or with friends. It grants you so much more freedom than living with your parents, but it also includes some burdens that might be hard to overcome at first sight. One of those is money.
When living with our parents, we mostly don’t even notice all of the things our parents pay for for us. We get our pocket money, and whenever we need something but can’t afford it, we always know where we can go and ask for it. But the second we move out, there are so many things we probably didn’t even think about paying. Rent, insurances, fees, food, cleaning equipment, furniture, simply everything. And due to those rather new circumstances it’s no wonder that at one point or another we might not be having enough money anymore. So here’s my tips on saving for everyone who might just be getting started with budgeting on their own.
Number one - the water bill
Tap water is something we take for granted, but believe it or not, it’s something we have to pay for. Wasting tap water isn’t only bad for the environment, but also bad for our budget, so limiting the use of water is basically a win-win situation.
Flushing the toilet consumes about 40 litres of water, so every time we pee in the shower, we’re actually saving 40 litres of water, which, if you think about it, is quite a lot. Obviously, not everyone feels comfortable doing it, but it’s something worth thinking about.
Also, how often do you wash your hair? Every day? If so, that’s most likely too often. The more you wash your hair, the more oil is produced by your scalp, thus creating oily hair more and more quickly. Washing your hair less often doesn’t only make it less oily over time, but it also saves you a lot of shampoo and conditioner, and, as a bonus, your hair dye lasts longer. And to be fair - there really isn’t a day that can’t be saved with dry shampoo.
Number two - food and going out with friends
We probably all know that one person who doesn’t have to worry about money at all and who encourages us to go out with them all the time. Let’s go eat some pizza here, and have a drink there, and so on and so forth. This adds up - to sums that our budget most likely won’t be able to handle. I’m not saying you shouldn’t see your friends, but there’s other things you could do than going out to some expensive place.
Cooking at home with friends, listening to music and chilling out is fun - perhaps even more fun than hanging out at a restaurant - and it’s also so much cheaper! Get your friends around, everyone brings one or two ingredients, and get making some food together! End the day with a movie or the new episode of your favourite TV-show, perhaps a glass of wine, and you’ll have a fun evening that won’t ruin your budget.
Also, speaking of food - the freezer is your friend. Cooking for one person is always a challenge, and surprisingly also often more expensive than cooking for two, so don’t be afraid of making bigger batches. Many dishes can be stored in the refrigerator overnight, and others do last a few months in the freezer - you’ll be spending less time cooking, and you’ll always be able to pop your dinner into the microwave on a busy day.
Number three - clothing
We all have those items in our wardrobes that we never wear. We might even think they’re pretty, but we just never find the right day or occasion to throw them on, so why bother keeping them? There are many platforms - to just name the probably most popular one: ebay - where you can sell all of the old things you don’t need anymore. Getting rid of old things gives you more space and overall declutters your life, and selling old things does grant you a few extra quids you might need every now and then.
So let’s play a game - mark every single piece of clothing you own, e.g. by hanging your clothes hangers the wrong way around, and remove the mark / hang it the right way around after you’ve worn it at least once. At the end of the season, or at the end of the year, put up all of the things you haven’t worn at all for sale. If you didn’t wear it in a year, you probably won’t miss it at all. This goes for all items of clothing, except for perhaps prom dresses and those kinds of fancy attire.
Number four - the budgeting book
If you’ve been following me around - on the internet, not home - for a while now, you’ll know that I have a bullet journal which I use to plan out all of the important things that go on in my life. That also counts for budgeting. I currently don’t live on my own so I don’t have to do a lot of budgeting yet, but I do save up for the one or another thing every now and then, and I do plan out that saving process.
It doesn’t even have to be a bullet journal - every notebook, or simply a document on your computer or phone, can get the job done. You have a certain budget to spend every month, and you have to pay for certain things every single month - which leaves you with a certain amount of money you can spend in whatever way you want - or save up. Know your limit! Know how much you can spend without getting in trouble, and keep track of which payments you have to get done. Don’t forget paying your rent, and don’t forget about things you have to pay for annually - such as car insurances. That’s where a notebook where you can plan out your budgeting in comes in handy. Give it a try - I’m sure it’ll help you loads if you experienced having trouble budgeting before.
Number five - cash and credit cards
We’re living in a time where paying with cards - whether that’d be credit cards or debit cards - is easier than ever. But be honest to yourself here: do you know the exact amount of money you have on your bank account before purchasing something via card? Do you know exactly how much money you’re left with? Probably not. That’s why it’s helpful to always pay in cash. You can have the money you can spend in your purse, you’ll always know how much you’re left with, and you also get a much better feeling for money if you actually hold it in your hands. If you’re working, you can also always keep in mind how much you’re getting paid for an hour - and if that one top or that video game really is worth your three hours of work.
Cards are the natural enemy of everyone who has trouble budgeting, so try to avoid them.
Number six - payback and gift codes
There are a lot of programs out there which allow you to get money back for your purchases or for certain actions, so why not try them out? Many grocery stores do have their own cards which give you 1 point per £1 purchase (or something similar to that) - and whenever you have a certain amount of points, you can exchange those points for a gift card. There are apps which display advertisements on your phone screen while you’re calling someone and give you discounts or gift codes in return (such as goodiecall). If you’re ordering a lot online, you can look into programs such as Amazon Student (or Amazon Prime in general) - or similar programs offered by other stores. Speaking of amazon - you don’t pay (or at least pay less) for shipping if your order is expensive enough, so it’s always a good idea to place one big order instead of multiple small ones. You can also sign up for newsletters to get discount codes for your favourite stores, or find discount codes on the internet.
Number seven - get a job
Skip this one if you already have a job, but if you don’t - why don’t you get one? I know that this isn’t possible for everyone - especially if you receive payments that you wouldn’t get if you had a job - but if it is an option that could work for you, go give it a try! It doesn’t always have to be a part-time job in retail markets or as a waiter, you can also turn your hobby or talent into a job! You play an instrument? Great! Why don’t you teach others the basics in return for some money? You’re good at drawing or speak a foreign language? Why don’t you offer courses to teach others? Or you could go dog- or cat-sitting, or babysitting if that’s something for you. You could help people with their gardens - or that nice old lady in your neighbourhood with cleaning her windows. The options are nearly endless.
Also, there’s social media. If you’re good at something, you can try and market it on the internet. Create a profile somewhere, and try to get money for clicks or displayed adverts, or try to sell something you created. There are a lot of artists out there who do commissions, and if you’re good at something, sooner or later one or another person will ask you to do something for them. Give it a try - it can’t be worse than not working.
Number eight - don’t live alone
It is more expensive to pay for one person living alone somewhere than it is for two or more people living together. A flat for one person might be around £400, and one for two around £500, which makes only £250 per person. Family boxes are usually also cheaper in terms of how much you get per £1, and you don’t have to throw away half of them since there are enough people around to share with. Also, if your flatmates happen to study the same thing as you do, they can always help you with studying, doing your homework, cramming, etc. Win-win, isn’t it?