You are looking forward to your first study year, and especially the accompanying independence, with great excitement. You will be able to do what you want and when you want to, because you will no be under your parents’ eagle eye. But until you start earning a salary, you will never be completely independent, unless you have a student bursary that covers all your expenses – your study fees, books, accommodation and pocket money. Nowadays most students have to watch their cents closely to make their budgets balance. Experts and other students offer advice.
Compile a budget that covers every imaginable expense – even tips, bank costs and parking fees. Also make provision for unexpected expenses.
Accommodation can set you back quite a bit. If you are studying at a university or other training institution in your home-town, consider still staying with your parents. Usually this is the least expensive. Otherwise, rent a room in a commune or share a flat with a good friend.
Avoid using credit cards. They entice you to spend more than you can afford, at a very high interest.
Utilise your student card for student discounts which some businesses offer.
Second-hand is nothing to be ashamed of. If possible, buy your textbooks second-hand. Also look on websites for second-hand furniture, bicycles or, if necessary, a second-hand vehicle.
Guard every cent. It’s unnecessary to buy the most expensive brands – cheaper options are just as effective or taste just as great. Keep your eyes open for special offers or discount coupons on certain products. Take care not to buy unnecessary items just because they are on “special”. Always ask yourself if you really need it. Literally save every cent you save – throw all your coins in a bottle and you will be amazed at how much you will have saved at the end of the year.
Don’t try to compete with your (wealthier) student buddies. Suppress your desire for the nicer, bigger, better and more expensive until you are earning a salary. You will be astonished to see students can survive with the most basic stuff.
Prepare food yourself instead of eating out or buying take-aways. It’s an effort to prepare meals yourself when you have to study for a test. But with thorough planning you can prepare delicious and nutritious meals in bulk, divide them into smaller portions and freeze them so that, by making a single effort, you can enjoy quite a few great meals. If you will be on campus during lunch, take along a sandwich instead of eating at the cafeteria.
Everyone would like to eat out or treat themselves to take-aways now and then. Keep abreast of special offers at eating places, even if it’s in the middle of the week. Do it on occasion as a group with special events such as a birthday (negotiate for group discount or utilise your student cards for this purpose).
Transport: If you stay close enough to the campus, walk or cycle, rather then driving with your car or riding per bus or Uber, even if it means that you have to get up a bit earlier. In this way you save money and also get some exercise, so that you won’t even have to spend money to visit a gym.
A part-time work also offers a welcome additional income for a broke student. Just make sure that you don’t have to sacrifice class-time or study-time for a test to work. You could work as a waiter, start a babysitting service, or offer your services as a tutor.
With alternative forms of entertainment, you can save a lot. Instead of eating out, arrange a cosy bring-and-eat and invite a few friends to hang out at your place. Everyone brings their own drinks and something to eat. Or, instead of spending a fortune to go and see a movie, take out some DVDs and have a “flick” evening at someone else’s home. Share the expenses.
Be realistic and willing to make sacrifices. This goes for everything during your student years. Always be aware of what you can afford and what not. At the end of his or her student years, no-one wants to be saddled with a load of debt. Rather live sparingly now; time passes in a wink. And begin your career debt-free.