When you're a tertiary student, sometimes you can get a bit overwhelmed with tips and 'helpful' hints... many of which you're not able to put into practice just yet.
At least, that was my experience. I just wasn't quite adult enough yet, but also not kiddie enough anymore.
Whether you’ve gone straight from school to university or whether you’ve transitioned back to study after many years in the work-force, mid-year is often the time that students are often struggling to keep their financial heads above water. So, with the second half of the year in full swing, now is the time to start afresh and put some financial fat into the rest of 2018!
Good news -- savings and studying don’t have to be mutually exclusive terms!
Most people are familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Physical needs like food, water, housing and safety are more important than social needs which are, in turn, more important than ‘self-actualisation’ or achieving one’s potential…
...but university life can tip Maslow’s hierarchy (and income organising) on its head.
Unable to afford to prioritise food and necessities, 17% of students find themselves couch surfing through years of a ramen noodle famine in order to fund text books, technology and a social life (what's a social life?!). While July’s tax refunds might make up some of the shortfall for working students, how can you play catch up if you know you can’t increase your income and stay on top of your study commitments?
Know what your income is
If your income varies because of casual employment, calculate your budget on the worst-case scenario. Any extra money you earn is a bonus, but at least you won’t over-commit. Know what your fixed expenses are.
You can get as creative as you like here but make sure you take down what your fixed, regular weekly, monthly and annual expenses are. Record what the expense is and how much it costs in your calendar then set reminders so that you don’t overspend on a whim (or a night out).
• Medical / Health Care
• Student Union
• Transport / Parking
• Practical placement expenses
If you have more income than you need to cover your fixed expenses, that’s great! If not, and you can’t pick up any more work, you may need to look at moving into cheaper accommodation, using more public transport (or walking) or changing to a cheaper phone or internet plan.
Reconsider your variable expenses
These are necessary things such as text books, clothing, shoes, haircuts and stationery. How much did you spend on average per week on these items last year? Can you afford to save that much out of each pay this year?
If you can, then you might want to open an online savings account and set up a direct deposit to that account every week. If you can’t save the full amount, save what you can and find more affordable ways to shop where you can.
Reward yourself with discretionary expenses
If you are lucky enough to be able to put away some money each week to go out with friends, buy your lunch occasionally or have a holiday then do it but, if you can’t, be strict about not ‘borrowing’ from the budget for fixed or variable expenses and steer clear of credit cards and after-pay finance.
The rule of thumb for anything that won’t make money for you is ‘if you can’t afford it now, you can’t afford it’ with the only acceptable exception for students being (perhaps) interest-free finance on a computer and even then, only if you can afford to pay it off within the interest-free period!
This doesn’t mean that you need to commit to living like a hermit for the next 3 to 4 years.
Entertainment money can be found by shopping smartly for groceries and carpooling instead of driving or paying for buses and whatever you save through the week by being thrifty can go into the party jar for the weekend.
My Income Organiser