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7 ways to save money while at college

7 ways to save money while at college

If you’re at college, you’ll understand the struggles of saving money – the digging into the pockets, checking if you’ve got enough change to go out for the night, or making sure no food is wasted in the fridge before spending more money on groceries, and coming up with a few odd combinations in the process. So here’s a few easy tips on how to save money while you’re at school, from a fellow student who feels your pain!

1. Get a student ID card

Usually when you enroll, you’ll get a student ID card. Especially if you’re an avid shopper, or a lover for food, the card gets you a discount for most high street stores and restaurants, all of which will be displayed on the student card’s website. Many student ID cards also work at museums, movie theaters, and other local attractions, so you can find inexpensive ways to go out with friends or even take someone on a date! For me, my favorite is the NUS card – 40% off at Pizza Express Monday-Friday. Cheap and pizza, what’s not to love?

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2. Look for discount/promotion codes before you buy!

I can not emphasize this enough, the amount I’ve saved over the past couple of years just by spending a couple of extra minutes before checking out online by a quick Google search such as “discount codes asos september 2015.” You can find promotion codes that definitely help cut costs. Little things like these really make a difference and add up. You’ll find you can get a promotion code at most major stores before checking out.

3. When eating out, find restaurants that offer a student discount.

Are there certain times you can go when students eat cheaper? As mentioned before, a favorite of mine is 40% off at Pizza Express, but there’s lot of options available. When you’re living at in a college town, you’ll find a lot of places cater to students to persuade them to repeat purchase at their chosen place.

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4. Don’t want something? Sell it online.

We live in a generation where most of us are Internet savvy and can work many apps/sites pretty well. I’ve noticed a lot that when I go home for the holidays, there’s clothes just sitting in my wardrobe not getting used anymore. I use various sites such as Depop and Ebay to sell various items I don’t use anymore. When you’re just living off your student loans, extra cash is always handy!

5. Order food online.

This way your shopping list is filled with the exact food you need, rather than getting distracted with offers at the supermarket. On most supermarket websites you can save and name shopping lists, so you could have multiple shopping lists saved for example “Week 1” and “Week 2” each with ingredients for recipes, so you’re not eating the same thing but you’re also being selective in your items by using them all, and not being enticed from other foods and offers at the Supermarket.

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6. Freeze food.

Going out of date the next day? FREEZE IT! Just put it in the freezer and save it for another time, especially for meat. This saves so much money, as meat is an expensive food. Another tip is when buying a sliced loaf of bread, put it in the freezer. This will make it last longer and you can take out 2 slices the day before eating it.

7. Invest in a hip-flask.

Even when going out, use this to save money on alcohol, put it in the lining of your clutch bag, or down your top, or wherever. This way you don’t have to worry about spending loads of money on a night out but you still have lots of alcohol! The hip flask will soon become your best friend.

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Featured photo credit: Huffington Post via huffingtonpost.co.uk

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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