Being a full-time student can be quite expensive. But with some careful planning and creative use of your resources, you can get the most from the limited income you have while studying. If you have been pondering on how to draw up and execute a meaningful budget, these tips and ideas will come in handy.
Estimate Your Income and Expenses
Open a blank sheet in your diary or notepad and draw a line down the center. At the top of the left side write Income and at the top of the right side write Expenses. Write down your sources of income, which will include your student loan, scholarships, allowances from parents, and money from personal work. Then list your expenses, which should include food, clothing, accommodation, utilities like gas, water, electricity, internet access and phone charges, personal care products, transportation, laundry, books and course materials, your college essays, library charges, entertainment, and any other expenses that you will incur regularly. This will give you an idea of how much you can spend and what you could save if you stick to your budget.
Keep a Tab on Your Expenses
A budget will not be of benefit to you if you do not monitor your expenses and stay within budgetary limits. You can easily keep a tab on what you are spending by using any of the popular Android or iphone apps designed for budgeting. Keep all your receipts in a drawer, take time to compare retails prices before you go shopping, and don’t withdraw more cash than you need with your debit card. In addition, online banking and account statements can help you to control your monthly expenses.
Work to Raise Your Income
If you discover that your monthly expenses will outweigh your income, you should consider getting a job. Work and study programs are encouraged on most campuses and a little less than half of college undergraduates hold a part-time job while studying. To reduce the strain on your body and improve time management, your job should be either within the campus or not far from it. Ensure that you don’t overwork yourself. Preferably, limit the total number of work hours to 15 to 20 hours a week. However, during the holidays, you can take up a full time job that will provide appreciable income and add value to your CV.
Minimize Printing Costs
Photocopy and printing costs can accumulate and take up a significant part of your budget during each semester. If you will need to write voluminous term papers and essays, you will reduce printing costs by purchasing a printer instead of paying for commercial printing on campus. Use an ink-saving serif font like Times New Roman and put the printer permanently on economic mode. You should also print on both sides of the paper unless you are instructed to do otherwise. Make use of recycled or replacement ink and toner cartridges so you can keep your printing costs low.
Cook to Reduce Feeding Expenses
Cooking your meals on campus will help you to lower the cost of feeding and enable you to eat the most nutritious food you can afford. Instead of living on canned or junk food, you should take time to create a timetable for your feeding. Ensure that you have a well balanced diet that is rich in nutrients, which will enhance your brain’s performance. These include foods like nuts, seeds, berries, walnuts, and salmon. You can cook in bulk and preserve it in a freezer. Also, cultivate the habit of packing a good lunch with you when you leave your room in the morning. It will help you to avoid the extra cost of eating unhealthy snacks.
Sell Your Unneeded Items Online
As you move from one stage of your studies to another, you will have items that you will not need to use again. Items like textbooks, tools, gadgets, clothing items, and shoes will be included on the list. Instead of keeping them and allowing them to form clutter around you, learn how to sell them on eBay and Amazon. You will not only recover a substantial amount of the cost price but you will be helping other students to overcome their financial challenges.
These are some of the most helpful tips you can use to stretch your budget and save money while studying. It does not matter how difficult things may be at the moment, if you monitor your spending closely, avoid impulse buying and keep within your pre-planned budget, you will be able to go through your studies successfully without undue financial stress.