Finance tips for students
How do you progress through your student years without racking up huge amounts of student debt but having as much fun as you can at the same time? A little money savvy goes a long way! My second book "The Savvy Woman's Guide to Financial Freedom" is solely dedicated to enabling people to achieve savvy money success and here are several ideas for you.
Read the highly practical advice from CCPC.ie
There aren't any new problems. There are millions of people who have faced what you face today and there will be millions more. Therefore, it's a good idea to learn from other people's experience. The government funded Consumer and Competition Protection Commission have put together five steps to help reduce the stress of managing your money during your college days and help you to get the most from your cash. Check this out before you do another thing!
Keep a budget
Try this experiment for a week: write down each and every expense throughout the day, from the rent that is due, down to the earplugs that you might need for studying in the library. To make it easier to remember each item, take pictures of the things you buy with your phone. Every day, take five minutes to categorize the amounts (food, entertainment, etc.) and to add them up. After a week, you'll know where your money is going. Doing this experiment for a whole month is even better, if you can stay on track. You can use the interactive tools on CCPC.ie to help you with this.
You then have a choice
- of cutting out what isn't really necessary or truly enjoyable (are you getting that €3 coffee out of habit, or do you really savour it?),
- of avoiding certain expenses (can you make that coffee at home and take it with you in a travel mug?),
- or protecting those expenses that really enhance your quality of life (you love your coffee too much, you much prefer cutting back on something else)
Plan your expenses
How much does it cost you to be a student? How much for tuition fees, for accommodation, for meals, for books, for nights out? Know how much you need to live comfortably and adjust either your spending or your income accordingly. If you know your lifestyle number, you can decide with much more clarity where to save and where to spend. Do you want to scale back - and go out once a week, instead of twice a week? Or do you want to earn more, in order to afford more of the things you want? Making choices will be much easier if you know exactly how much money you need monthly and yearly.
Learn to cook
This could be the one skill that, if you learn it now, can save you thousands of euros in unhealthy microwave meals and pot noodles, and in wasted food that you have to throw away untouched. No need to go all Ministry of Food, just learn a few simple dishes that you really like. And take human nature (and laziness) into account, instead of vowing you'll be virtuous forevermore. Don't think that you'll have the energy and the will every evening to cook a healthy, gourmet meal after a whole day of lectures. Instead, you might cook at the weekend when you're home, with the help of your parents, using their kitchen utensils (so you don't have to buy yours). Then just pop the ready meals in the microwave whenever you're hungry. Your bank account and your scales will thank you!
Earn money on the side
With a little bit of effort you can earn money in your spare time without compromising your studies. I paid for myself through college, with a mix of summer jobs, part-time jobs, temping jobs and odds and ends, like filling surveys in exchange for coupons. Simply Google "money for opinions" and you'll find a lot of companies who are willing to pay you to answer surveys. You might also give grinds to secondary school students, or babysit at the weekend, or sell your old textbooks through the student union. There are many ways that you can put a spare hour to lucrative use and check out our other post on a plethora of ways to do so.
Set aside a "me fund"
When you're a student, it seems like life is waiting for you to enjoy it. It's fun and exhilarating, but sometimes you might feel there are too many temptations vying for your rather small wallet. Set up a "me fund" where you channel extra money before it disappears (into rounds at the pub, for example). It might be a simple piggy bank, or a dedicated savings account. Then use that money to afford that trip to Italy, that ski vacation in the Alps, that gorgeous handbag or a Summer of a lifetime. Saving up for it actually doubles your enjoyment!
Take initiative to do things that don't cost much at all
If you don't feel comfortable saying "Sorry I can't afford it" whenever somebody suggests some form of entertainment, take the initiative and offer to host gaming parties, slumber parties, music parties, movie parties, make-up parties... Make it a potluck, cook one of your signature dishes (see above!) and have fun! Just because you don't have a lot of money doesn't mean you're not allowed to enjoy your social life. Suggesting things to do and choosing cheaper activities or venues will make you the center of attraction and will preserve your budget. When a night out is inevitable, offer to pick the venue and go to Groupon (groupon.ie) or Menupages (menupages.ie) to find discounts.
At SavvyTeenAcademy, we will teach you many financial skills; how to make money as a teenager, how to understand the stock market, how to handle a job interview for success and many others. Check out our Programme and Dates page and we wish you every success!
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