We all have the goal to save money. We do, but this bill pops up. Then there’s that extra latte. You know the drill. So here are some digestible tips we could all use to help save some coin.
Like Mom Taught You: Pack a Lunch
As students, we pay so much for lunch. The problem is that no matter how many times you tell yourself you won’t grab a snack between classes, spending money on food is inevitable if you don’t pack yourself a lunch. Likewise, when lunch packing gets left until the morning, it probably isn’t going to happen. Spend one day a week chopping, cooking, and putting snacks into containers. Preparing easy snacks ahead of time for the week is one of the easiest ways to ensure your stomach doesn’t make impulse purchases.
Swap the Gym for the Trail
If you’re still spending $50 a month to walk on the treadmill, it’s time to break up with your gym membership (especially during the summer). If your main priority at the gym is cardio, you can easily work it into your lifestyle without spending a dime. Not only does nature offer us amazing benefits like reducing stress and improving a person’s mood, it can also offer us a free place to get in shape. If you don’t have any green space nearby, rediscover sports that get your heart rate going without a dollar sign attached—shoot hoops at your local rec centre, try out tennis, play dodgeball, or go for a bike ride.
Plan, Evaluate, Adjust
In the 6 Must-Have Apps That Will Keep Your Cash in Check article, we talked about the importance of knowing where your money is going in order to manage it effectively. Tools like Mint can be incredibly helpful when it comes to showing you where you are spending your money. Step two of setting a budget is evaluating where you have under-budgeted and where you have over-budgeted. If you are consistently seeing that you’re overspending in certain categories and not spending as much as you thought in others, adjust your margins to fit your lifestyle so you don’t feel constantly strapped for cash. Overspending in every category? You have two options: spend less, or make more.
Cut Back on the Booze
There’s no denying that a large portion of the student population overspends on alcohol on a regular basis. Most students could probably tell you numerous stories of spending money they didn’t have during a night out. As Canadians, we are more than pulling our weight in the drinking department—a study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health found that Canadians drink more than 50 percent above the global average. It usually costs a bar between 20-30% of what they are charging to actually make the drink you are buying. Therefore, it’s a no brainer that buying drinks at restaurants and bars shouldn’t really be on the menu for students looking to save cash.
Disable Online Shopping
Online shopping can be one of the easiest ways to spend. And to spend big. There’s something about not leaving your couch that is incredibly appealing about the shopping process. If you’re guilty of browsing shopping websites when you’re bored, stop yourself before you’re even tempted. Using websites like StayFocused to block yourself from going to online shopping sites when you’re trying to save money, can help make sure you stay on track.
Grocery Shopping with an Attack Plan
There is nothing worse than spending unnecessary money for no reason other than being disorganized. “Am I out of salsa? I can’t remember; I’ll just buy some anyway”—only to get home and realize you have three jars sitting in the cupboard. If this sounds familiar, take five seconds before you leave to get groceries and snap a picture on your phone of the inside of your fridge and cupboard so you can look at it when you’re at the store.
Make Use of the Benefit Package at your School
Most universities and colleges offer benefits that, guess what—you’re paying for! There’s a good chance you were automatically opted in to your school’s health benefit package, so take a few minutes to read what you are covered for. If you go to the dentist once a year for a cleaning, make sure you go during the school year, while you’re covered, instead of going in the summer and paying out of pocket. The same goes for those chiropractor, massage, and optometrist appointments—informing yourself about your plan and exactly when the coverage period is can help save you hundreds of dollars.
Pay Back Your Student Loan with a Plan
By the time many of us finish an undergraduate degree, we’ve racked up more debt than we’d like to admit. If you received a government student loan, make use of the tools available on their website to help calculate the most efficient way to repay your loan. Calculate what you can afford, make a plan, and stick to it. It is also worthwhile to explore repayment assistance options if you think you will have trouble making payments. Still feel clueless about your loan? Talk to the financial aid office at your school and ask their advice. Paying your loan back strategically will ensure you don’t spend unnecessary money on interest.
Congratulations to Caitlyn Seale from University of Toronto, Winner of Week 6 in CIBC’s $10K Study Break!
Enjoy that $1,000 study break, Caitlyn! For your chance to win, see this week’s challenge.
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.