Are you struggling to make ends meet with your student budget? Check out our tips to making the most out of your tight student budget.
The student budget is often tight, and it isn't often possible to invest in your own well-being and future plans after you've taken care of the essentials. Many students want to start saving already during their studies, and many also already have a savings plan, but a saving plan that is too strict doesn't really leave room for you to enjoy your time as a student. We've gathered here some tips for you to make your student budget stretch a bit further and to make little savings in your everyday student life. Rebuild your student budget with these tips!
Plan your budget
Things become a lot easier to manage, once you write them down: this goes for managing your budget as well. You don't need to be a bookkeeping wizard to keep on top of your income, saving and spending. If nothing else, following what you spend your money on in your online bank is an easy way to know how you are spending. A good chance to brush up your Excel skills is to make a monthly sheet for your income and essentials, such a rent, phone bill, loans, insurances and possible hobby fees - things that you know will be roughly the same every month. Make an estimate also on your monthly grocery spending. Now you have the budget for the month laid out and you'll be able to see if there's room for any savings or extra purchases. However, the sheet only works if you keep it up to date, so make sure you update it once a week or twice a month at least. Your online bank will be a great asset to you in this, and after a couple of months you can clearly see, if you're spending money on something that's not working for you or that is unnecessary spending, and you could put those funds to better use. This will help you change your consumer habits and monitor your budget and spending also in the future. If you don't want to draft a monthly Excel sheet, try putting your income and spending in a visually pleasing, easy to read app such as Spendee or Spiir.
Remember student discounts!
Student life can be extremely stressful, and when you're busy with school work, you might not have the capacity to think about how to put your budget to best use. One fairly easy way to make sure you always save on your purchases is to double-check whenever you're about to buy something, especially when it's a bigger investment, if there is a student discount available on the product. Browse the ISIC app for all student discounts available for ISIC card holders, and don't forget to check with your local café, bar, hairdresser, gym and whatnot, if they give out a student discount when you present a valid student ID. Also, it's not a bad idea to compare prices for electricity, phone plans, internet plans and subscription services; yes, it takes time, but it can save you a pretty penny in the long run!
Being critical about your consumer habits doesn't mean giving up all nice things in your student life. Nor does it meant that you have to reconsider everything you spend money on. The classic example is to give up takeaway coffee, but sometimes that takeaway cuppa is exactly what you need, and restricting yourself and vowing you'll never get one again can feel more depressing than rewarding. The point of rethinking your consumer habits is not to make you feel miserable, but instead help you find meaningful ways to save money that work for you. It could be something as simple as looking for a secondhand phone, laptop, bicycle, winter coat or course book instead of a new one. It could be finding a flat to share with your friends instead of living in a studio on your own. It could be getting a membership card to your closest supermarket to make sure you never miss a good member deal. Mapping out every app and streaming service you are paying for to see where your money is actually going and choosing only one to keep. The easier it is to include in your everyday life, the more likely you are to stick to this way of saving and consuming. It's worth the while to sit down with yourself and comb through your consumer habits; it will help you save and also allocate your funds better.
Rewrite your grocery shopping list
Although many restaurants offer a student discount, and the school's cafeteria is usually an affordable option for a meal, cooking your own food will save you a lot of money. Plan and budget your grocery shopping for the month well ahead: when you've a list of all meals for the week or month, you can stick to your list and avoid picking random, often expensive impulse buy items in your cart. And if you've got the back for it, it's usually a good idea to get things in bulk. Many pantry items, like rice, pasta and muesli can be bought in big packages, and you don't need to worry about them going bad any time soon, especially if you store them right (use a glass or plastic food container). Many dishes, such as soups, stews and pastas can also be cooked in bulk; cook a bigger serving one day, store it in your fridge or freezer and avoid having to be in the kitchen every day.
Save with a friend
Many students are in the same situation and live with a small budget. When you have a buddy to save money with, it becomes a lot more fun. It’s easier to visit each other instead of meeting at the cafe or go jogging instead of training at the expensive gym. If your saving buddy happens to be also your study buddy, its easier to bike or walk to school together and save some money with the travel costs.
Apply for a scholarship to fund your studies
If you're dreaming about studying or working abroad, there are a load of scholarships available to support you on your way. Many organizations, unions, companies and funds give out scholarships to students studying a specific major subject. Do not hesitate to contact your student union or school about options for scholarships, and don't forget to check out our Scholarships and grants article here. Another option is to consider a study loan with a relatively small interest rate.