Students and their personal finances
You have just started university or college. Money has become a huge issue because expenses have increased. You decide to get a student loan or maybe a scholarship, but financial aid can be very complicated and there are many other students just like you. When you have money, you no longer know when and where you spent it. So here are some helpful tips on budgeting and saving your way to a better lifestyle.
Before considering the idea of borrowing money, explore all possible gift aid options such as awards from associations or religious affiliations. They are like mini cash grants. One association may give you $100, another may give you $50. These small amounts can add up to a big one.
Spending time at the beginning of the course semester; as you get used to your daily routines, you can plan your finances. Have a record comparing your income and expenses. Plan how to maximize your income and minimize your expenses.
Keep track in a book of what you spend. You might think that small expenses such as a candy bar here and a soft drink there wouldn’t hurt your pocket. But it’s those little things that eat away at your wallet. Write down all expenses. After a week/month, you can then check your expenses and track your expenses. File all your receipts, bank statements, grant and loan details for future reference. Also check your monthly bank statements as errors are common.
If you have a regular monthly income (like a salary or a scholarship), don’t be tempted to spend it all at once. Stretch this over a period of a month. Record the balance in your bank account.
Take holiday jobs or even work part-time after school and on weekends for extra income. A job can also help improve your career prospects after graduation.
Whenever possible, use public transport or carpooling. Many colleges offer free on-campus shuttle service. If the trip isn’t too far, why not take a brisk walk to your destination. You saved on transportation costs and had a great workout as a bonus.
Email instead of phone calls. Not only is it cheaper, but you can also reach more people at once. If you prefer to phone, get prepaid cell phone service, which helps you eliminate monthly subscription fees. If you make long distance calls frequently, sign up with an average quality international call provider instead of a high tech provider as it is cheaper. Try online messengers that offer video conferencing or phone calls. It’s much cheaper.
Try to apply for a college or university in the state so you can stay home. Eliminate extra expenses like accommodation costs.
Look for used books rather than new ones. There will certainly be graduates who want to get rid of their old books.
Try to make cash withdrawals once a week at the bank you have an account with or at its branches. Also keep receipts for withdrawals made. Avoid carrying the cards with you.
Keep a simple lifestyle. Do not always spend unnecessarily and get rid of the expenses you do not need. For example, a chocolate bar that costs 50 cents a day, in 10 days you would have spent $5 to appease that sweet tooth.
Give up bad habits such as drinking, smoking and gambling. First, such habits will slowly kill you and second, such habits will waste money.
Be environmentally friendly. Turn off the lights when you leave the room and turn off the tap when you’re done. Use both sides of a sheet of paper and recycle the ones you no longer want. Not only does recycling save the planet, it also helps put money back in your pocket.
When downloading content from the Internet or just listening to music on the computer, turn off the screen. The processor requires only 40% of the power to operate; the rest is taken by the screen.
Invest in a piggy bank but not just any one; buy the ones that don’t have “indent” holes. Clay figurines are quite inexpensive. Put your spare change in there. Every penny counts.
Fixed deposits are a great way to cash out. If you have a minimum amount of money required by the bank, which you can save for a short 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 higher interest. Another good option would be to invest in a mutual fund. Consult your nearest bank for more information, as each bank has a different policy and interest rate.
Have long-term goals like buying a car, then create a fund to buy the car by setting money aside each month. In the end, even if you no longer want to buy a car, there will be money for other things.
Adeline Ong © 2006