The whole world has been suffering in the worst economic crisis since the depression of the 1930s, but few groups have suffered as much as students. Faced with increasing tuition fees and dwindling maintenance grants, students have been forced to live on much smaller incomes. If that wasn’t difficult enough, rising food and energy costs have been stretching their already depleted funds to breaking point. However, these increasing financial pressures should not deter students from acquiring the education of their dreams. There are a few simple changes that can be made to living standards that will ease the financial burden of even the most cash-strapped student.
Take Control of Financial Matters
Students need to be proactive in managing their day-to-day expenditure, and a great way of doing so is by registering for online banking; it will provide a quick and simple way of keeping a watchful eye on outgoings. Some universities offer their students an online financial planner which allows them to monitor their income and expenditure; a process that should prevent nasty surprises when it’s time to go grocery shopping! It may also be a good idea to only deal in cash. Using credit and debit cards may provide an element of convenience, but purchases can quickly be forgotten. Students should work out their weekly budget in advance, and that figure should never be exceeded.
A great deal of students simply pay a weekly visit to the nearest supermarket in order to stock up on tinned foods and ready-made meals. While this option may be the quickest way of shopping for groceries, it will also be the most expensive. Taking the time to peruse local markets and farm-based shops will often result in some excellent bargains. Fresh fruit and vegetables can be a little on the pricey side these days; however, freshly cooked stews, pasta dishes and pies can be divided up, frozen and eaten throughout the week. In addition, switching to non-branded foods can save students an enormous amount on their weekly grocery bill.
Entertain at Home
It seems that the price of everything is increasing at the moment, but few things cost as much as a night out. The price of alcohol is extremely high in bars and clubs, and when the costs of admission and taxis are factored in, the total cost of an evening out with friends can easily exceed a student’s weekly grocery bill. However, buying some cheap wine and beer from a supermarket will be significantly less expensive than the prices charged by bars. Many students live in houses, so they have a ready-made venue for entertaining. For those who still want to hit the town, there is no reason why the first few drinks of the evening can’t be enjoyed at home.
Manage a Student Loan Effectively
Many students fall into the trap of thinking they are rich when the funds from a student loan finally arrive in their bank account. However, this often results in the impulse purchase of a summer holiday or the latest smart phone. It may be wise to hand over the proceeds from a student loan to parents, as they can drip-feed cash to their children every week or so. Many landlords prefer payment upfront for the entire year, so it may also be a good idea to use a student loan to take care of a year’s rent in advance.
A Part-Time Job
Many students find that even working as little as eight hours every week gives them a little extra cash to spend on luxury purchases. A Saturday job in a local shop is ideal, or a couple of nights per week in the local pub will provide a source of income that can be managed around studies. There are also an increasing number of online jobs available that offer flexible working hours to suit the studying schedules of individual students.
Buy a Bike
Unless students live on campus, it may be necessary to use public transport to get around. However, even discounted charges are significant these days, so it could be a cost-effective decision to buy a bike. Even an investment of around $100 will be well worth it, as the average price of a bus pass is between $10 and $20 per week.
A student is blessed with an amazing opportunity to learn, acquire qualifications and get on the career ladder at an early age. This time should be enjoyed and cherished; however, too many students can’t fully appreciate the experience because of financial worries. With just a little careful planning, frugality and will-power, even the most meager student budgets can prove sufficient.
How do you survive on your student budget? Tell us below!