It’s no secret that attending University is an expensive investment. Of course we plan for this investment will pay off in the future, but in the mean time it can feel like you’re spending a lot of money day to day when you factor in tuition and the cost of living. Many students live on a tight budget throughout their post secondary careers and work part time to supplement some of their expenses. But even then, there are a few things you can do to cut costs and save up for a special occasion or treat!
Tip 1: Budgeting
Probably the most common tip we hear when it comes to saving money but also the trickiest to stick to. Some people like to look at how much money they have for the year and then break it down into months, weeks and categories. Others like to estimate how much they’ll need each week for living expenses and then add up all the numbers. Either way, it comes down to planning and sticking to the plan. The secret I have found is that you need to budget for miscellaneous items and special treats. Whether it’s a coffee after a long lecture, or something special you find at a store in town, be sure to account for something special every now and then. This way you won’t feel guilty you’ve blown the budget if you decided to treat yourself after working hard at school all week.
Tip 2: Meal Plan and Grocery Lists
Without a doubt I spend the majority of my money on food & drinks! I love to eat out or grab a coffee any time of day. Not to mention with how busy we are at school, it’s not always possible to make a new dinner every evening. So that’s where meal planning comes in. every weekend I take a few hours to research a couple new recipes and make a shopping list of everything I need. Be sure to check your cupboards first so you don’t buy items you already have. Once I’ve cooked two of the recipes I divide the contents into a few Tupperware and put half in the fridge and half in the freezer. The only downside to meal planning is that you end up eating the same meal a few times in the same week and it can quickly become tiring. If you freeze half the meals you can keep them for a week or two and change up what your eating at each meal!
Tip 3: Thrift Store
When it comes to buying clothes, books, gifts and knick-knacks to decorate your room the best way to keep from blowing your budget is checking out thrift shops first. Of course while there’s no guarantees that you’ll find exactly what you are looking for there’s a good chance you’ll find something close. Guildford has quite a few great thrift stores my favourite of which are The British Heart Foundation (16/19 White Lion Walk) and Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice Shop (6 Phoenix Ct). Both cary clothing, shoes, bags, books and kitchen ware in good shape and I find their prices to be around half of what you will find buying an item brand new.
Tip 4: Loyalty Cards
Who’s doesn’t love free things?! The best tip in saving money is to sign up for every loyalty card you are offered. You’ll collect points or stamps on everything from groceries to coffee to hair cuts and eventually you’ll work your way up to discounts, coupons and even free stuff! Keep in mind that every loyalty program works a little different so be sure to research each one so you can get the most out of it. Also check your mail regularly- many grocery stores will mail you coupons and you’ll want to use them up before they expire!