The cost of living is getting higher, and this can be especially painful if you’re a university student living on a tight budget.
The escalating costs of food, transport and school fees can set you back by hundreds of dollars. However, by keeping certain things in mind and planning ahead, you can save yourself plenty of money in other areas of your life.
Here are some nifty hacks to help you reduce your expenses and supercharge your savings for a rainy day.
Choose a denomination to save
Here’s a fun game – every time you encounter a denomination of your choice, say US$1, put it aside to keep in your savings.
It may not seem like much at first (which is the point), but your bank account will be much healthier by the end of the year.
To make it more fun, get a friend to join the challenge or make it into a competition. That way, you’ll be more compelled to continue the challenge to rack up those dollars.
Planning your meals is one of the most effective ways to save money.
While it requires time and effort – and, for novice cooks, practice – the results are well worth it. Once you start cooking, you’ll quickly realise how much cheaper it is to prepare your meals.
After all, why pay several dollars for one muffin when you can bake and freeze some for a fraction of the cost?
Auto-deduct money from one account to another
You may have heard of the term “pay yourself first”. This essentially means saving before you spend your money on anything else.
We know this can be hard to do, which is why you can opt to set up an automatic transfer to move money from one account to another, preferably one that has a higher interest rate than the former.
This way, you’ll be forced to save before you can be tempted to spend your money unnecessarily. However, be sure to have budgeted accordingly so you have enough put aside for basic expenses, such as food and transportation.
Carry a bottle of water
Buying bottled water may be convenient and cheap, but in the US, it’s estimated that the average American spends over US$100 per year on it.
Carrying water with you is a good habit as you may find yourself paying extra for water when eating out, and depending on where you are, the price of bottled water can be marked up (think sporting games).
Carrying your water bottle is better for the environment anyway, with reports noting that some one million plastic bottles are bought every minute.
Cut down on your vices
Are you addicted to cigarettes?
You could either cut down or take steps towards quitting to save yourself some money. Sure, it’s easier said than done, but think of the long-term benefits – you’ll save plenty of money without jeopardising your health or the health of others.
As for coffee, we know that trip to Starbucks or a gourmet café can be tempting, especially if you have a long commute to campus, but consider cutting down the amount you spend on coffee each week.
Alternatively, you could buy a flask and make your own coffee. A cute flask may encourage you to use it more often, which can ultimately save you plenty in the long run.
Try the 52-week saving challenge
Depending on your financial circumstances, you could try the 52-week saving challenge, where you increase the amount of savings you make each week.
For example, in your first week, you save $1, the second week $2, the third week $3, and so on. By the time you reach the 52nd week of the year, you save $52. By the end of the year, you will amass $1,378.
If this seems like an unrealistic amount to save, you can do the mini version of the challenge which entails saving $0.50 in your first week, $1 in your second week, $1.50 in your third week, and so on.
Delete shopping apps on your phone
If you’re someone who enjoys online shopping, especially on your mobile phone, deleting apps will mean you no longer receive notifications on flash sales or ‘must-have’ new items.
The temptation to spend is worse when your credit or debit card details have been conveniently saved online – the danger lies when you can purchase an item in a matter of seconds.
While you may be able to score some good buys during flash sales, the trouble comes when you can’t muster the will against purchasing items you do’t need. If that’s the case, its best to go cold turkey and uninstall those apps.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to unsubscribe to their newsletters too.
Buy generic items
Branded goods do not necessarily entail quality.
Shop around and give generic goods, such as detergents and cereals, a try. You may be surprised to find that they may be as good, or even better, than branded products, and are a fraction of the price.
Save your spare change
Anytime you encounter some spare change, put it aside in a jar – consider it your adult piggy bank. This is one of the easiest ways to encourage yourself to save.
At the end of the year, tally the amount and keep it in your savings account. It may not seem like much at first, but when coupled with the savings tips above, you might be heartened to see your savings grow and be motivated to continue the momentum.
Have a no-spend challenge each week
Choose one day of the week for a no-spend challenge. This could mean not spending at all, or not spending money apart on the essentials such as transport or food.
To make the effect more striking, pick a day of the week you tend to spend the most for this challenge, such as on a weekend.