I’m back with another post that will hopefully give you some inspiration when it comes to money matters. If you missed my last post you can check it out right here – Money, Money, Money. Today I am going to share my tips on how to budget your money while in college.
Today I want to talk about college. Oh that college lifestyle…… How fun it can be. No money but somehow didn’t end up homeless and also seemed to be able to drink our body weight, dance like there was no tomorrow while amazingly still being able to keep up with the latest trends!! How did we do it?? I’ll tell you…. Debt! Thats how we did it!! Debt from the banks (including bank of mom & dad!…. Does that really count?? Yes it counts!) I, like many others worked part-time through college & also got a grant but still somehow this wasn’t enough! I needed a loan from the bank & a sizable overdraft to see me through. Otherwise how could I keep up with the cool kids. Damn them Jones’s with their perfect hair, clothes & lifestyle.
Like I said in my previous post. I have learned from my ways & I am steadily righting my wrongs money-wise. Its a learning curve. No-one is born with the ability to handle money because money is not a natural thing (contrary to popular belief it does not actually grow on trees. Money is man-made and all the laws around it are man-made too which means no human in the history of the world can be born with money sense. It is something we learn but again this is not something they bother teaching in school (not from a personal finance point of view) so how are we to know.
Unfortunately most money making companies and money handlers are counting on this…. that’s how they make their money…. Banks, Insurance companies, Car financing companies…. just to name a few. Now don’t get me wrong I am not saying that theses companies are out to trick the consumer or doing anything out-right illegal, but lets be real it does work out in their best interest if you know absolutely nothing about how these companies work & are just will to pay out premiums out of ignorance. If you follow me on Twitter then you will have seen me tweet about college. This is because I have recently decided to go back at the ripe old age of 27 to change my career path. This time however there will be no loans, no hand-outs from mammy & daddy. I have decided to do this so I will be paying for it by myself. However considering I have decided to do this while also on a debt-kicking, sorting out my finances buzz it means I will be cutting costs where ever I can to make sure that I can continue to try and rid my life of the money woes that weigh me down. I will be working part-time now instead of full-time but the company I work for are more than happy to give any over-time available hours that will fit into my college schedule.
6 tips to budget your money while in college
1. Invest in a Lunch Box
This year I will be packing my own lunches for college. It’s not exactly Kylie Jenner vibes but I honestly can’t justify buying lunches everyday when for less that half the price I can just pop into Aldi and have lunches provided for the whole week! While the cool kids are spending €5-€10 a day on lunch I will be munching on my own little lunch knowing that all that money I will be saving will benefiting my future. I will also be buying quick breakfast goodies too. Instead of picking up a breakfast bar with my coffee or a pastry I will be picking them up in Aldi. You can by them in bulk which means the cost of each is cut down dramatically. One bar in the shop or a pastry can set you back anywhere from €1-€2 whereas you can buy a pack of 6 (which will last an entire week) for about €1.50!! And that’s just good sense.
2. Caffeine & Hydration
I need my coffee & water. These are probably what I would spend the most money on a week consistently. There are a few ways to solve this problem.
First lets tackle coffee. Need your cup o’ Joe in the morning? Me too. Generally I will stick to decafe but whether its a placebo effect of not I need it to wake up. So I have invested in a travel mug. Penny’s do really nice pretty one’s at the moment if you are sticking to the budgetting plan (also Dealz / Poundland & most grocery stores) but if you are a girl/guy who loves your brands then there are plenty of options at TK Maxx & most coffee brand chains will even sell their own e.g. Starbucks, Costa, Gloria Jeans. There are so many options to fit all your coffee needs. Also if you (like me) need your flavoured coffees they also sell the flavourings. You can get them in specific coffee stores for about €12 for a one litre bottle but I have found them for €3 a bottle (half the size of the €12 counterpart. Lasts me about a month) in Lidl. So if you are willing to put a little bit of work in yourself in the morning then you can enjoy that coffee buzz for a fraction of the price.
Water is something I drink quite alot of. Which is good but can get quite expensive. Here are my cost saving tips. Purchase a good sturdy water bottle that you can refill from your tap. It’s a one time investment. You can even buy infusion bottles where you can add fruit for a bit of flavour and some added nutrients. If like me you only drink bottled water because either you can’t drink the tap water or don’t like the taste of tap water then you can do what I do which is buy bottled water in bulk in Aldi or Lidl. Its costs me €2.49 for a 12 pack of 500ml bottles of water in Aldi where as it cost me atleast a €1 per bottle individually in town or in college. (So if I do the math quickly that’s a saving of €9.51 each 12 bottles) Alternatively you could buy the large 5/10 litre bottles of water in Aldi for around the same price and pour it into your infusion reusable bottle & still get that fruity flavour.
Now this one will be different for each and every student. Some of you will be living on campus, student accommodation and so on. Others like me will be living further out so you will have to figure out your travel arrangements. Here are a couple of tips.
- Look for bundle offers such as a weekly, monthly or even semesterly bus/train tickets. These will save you more in the long run as long as by doing the math you can figure out whether the price of the ticket is cheaper than paying for each trip individually. You can do this by figuring out how often you will need the bus, adding up the face value cost price and see how it compares to the bundle ticket.
- If you are driving, plan out your route so you can budget your fuel costs. Find out where the cheapest (while good quality) fuel is and see if you can map it into your route to or from college. Also try and only fill up once a week. It means you are less likely to be tempted by all those convenience goodies. Lots of stations also have offers or loyalty cards. If you are going to be using their services and products anyway then you may as well reap any benefits they have to offer. Find your parking area and whether thats going to cost you or not. Again look into whether there are any parking facilities or offers for students attending that college. If you have toll roads on route then look into getting one of those electronic tag thingys. Again depending how often you use the road it might save you money in the long run. Also don’t forget car pooling. Save on fuel costs while also saving the environment – win win.
- Use your student card if you can. Most colleges have offers to students to help with travel costs. Look into it maybe your college offers more than you know.
4. Gym Bunnies
Many of us want to try and incorporate so form of physical activity into our weeks if possible. Unfortunately gyms can be super expensive. This is probably the one area where students win compare to the general public. There are so many different societies & clubs in college from football to horse riding, spinning classes to zumba. If you want to be apart of it take advantage. Most colleges either have their own gym or are partnered with a near by gym which means either free or cheaper classes. Run Free little bunnies, Go wild!!
5. Printing & College Equipment
Ok as many of you will have started college already by the time you read this but college books, stationary and all that jazz can get quite expensive especially since stationary has gotten very “trendy” in the last couple of years what with all the Erin Condren planners floating about (Great, like we needed a new area of our life where we have to feel like we have to keep up with those jones again!!) Anyhoo here is my advice on the subject.
First of all, don’t buy your stationary in bulk – unless it actually works out cheaper. By this I mean don’t get all stationary happy in the store and pick up 100 notebooks, refill pads, folders and 4000 types of pens just because its cute and you think “ah, it will come in useful somewhere”. Chances are it probably won’t and you’ve just spent €10 on a notebook that you will completely forget about a month in. Instead really think about your course. Will you be using a laptop a lot? How many modules/classes do you have? What do they entail? Do you need a calculator? Do you need a Notebook for each class? Will materials be provided by the college, like computers, college diary? My advice would be get one or 2 notebooks for the first couple of days then when you really know what you need you can get shopping then.
Also don’t worry about the Joneses, a notebook is a notebook at the end of the day whether it has a cute picture or slogan on the front or not. Spend what fits your budget and you feel is appropriate. Make sure they are good enough quality to last you the college year but remember if you don’t need it and won’t use it then its just a waste of money and takes up space in your home and life.
When it comes to printing, very few of us can avoid it. Now in college they will have the facilities available but sometimes by hunting around you can actually find it cheaper in other stores or your local library so if you feel that the college are charging a little too much and you know that you are going to have a lot of printing throughout the year then hunt around and you might get lucky. The other alternative is to buy a cheap printer. Again do the math to work out whether this will actually work out cheaper for you. But if it does then look into places like Argos even Tesco, Lidl & Aldi. Alternatively you can check out second-hand options online on sites like Done Deal, Ebay & Amazon. I won’t be looking into this option because it doesn’t make sense for me but if it does for you give it a go!!
6. Tech Savvy
Many of us will either already have or will invest in some technology to help us on our path to becoming knowledgeable beings. However this can be very expensive. Here are a few of my tips. If you need anything from a laptop to a flash drive do your research, shop around, compare like with like especially prices!! If you don’t mind buying second hand you might get a really good product for a fraction of the price!! remember knowledge is power. If you are going to invest put the work in and you’ll end up with a better quality product for the best price!! Finally when you have everything you need be sure to put all the necessary measures in place to protect them. Keep them safe and you will get the most out of them!!
That’s my first 6 tips for you on how to budget your money while in college. You can check out part 2 here – How to budget while in college (Part 2)
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