February 20, 2018

Budget stretching tips for students: Living better for less

Attending college and being short on cash go hand in hand for many students, but with a bit of wisdom from those who’ve done it before, you can get more bang for your buck. Here are 9 tips for stretching every dollar to maximize its value.

Become a rice and ramen connoisseur

Rice and ramen noodles are inexpensive, and with some creativity, they become the primary ingredients for a delicious, nutritious and cheap meal. There are loads of good recipes online like the 144 ramen recipes at Budget101. They’re made by adding small amounts of vegetables, legumes, spices, sauces or meats to produce something mouth-watering at an affordable price.

Buy bulk quantities and split them with friends

Huge bags of rice, flour, legumes, nuts, fruit or other foods cost far less by weight than small packages do. Get a few friends to buy bulk quantities together, and then divide them up into equal portions. You can save up to 50 percent by doing this, and the method can be applied to a wide variety of food and non-food items.

Throw a clothes-swapping party

How many perfectly good clothing items do you own that you really don’t like anymore, never looked good on you anyway or simply don’t fit? Selling them is a good option, though a more fun way to get rid of them is to hold a clothing exchange party with your friends where everyone leaves with clothing they like and got for free!

Avoid late fees by paying bills on time and staying under your credit limit

When money is tight, bills for things like credit cards sometimes get neglected, or you might consider making a purchase that will put your account over your credit limit. The problem is that the bank will hit you with ridiculously large fees like these from Citibank and may raise your annual percentage rate too. Dip into your savings as deep as you need to go to avoid those killer fees and increased interest rates.

Walk or ride a bike (or rent out your car!)

Choose the exercise of a walk or a bike ride instead of paying for transportation. If you’ve got a car, park it until your financial situation improves. You won’t have to buy petrol or pay for insurance that way. If you decide to keep the vehicle in use, consider renting it out or loaning it to friends as long as they’re willing to put a few extra litres of petrol in it for you to use.

Rent second-hand textbooks

As you well know, they aren’t giving away new textbooks down at the uni bookstore. They are very expensive and can easily blow your budget for the semester. Why not rent used textbooks instead from an online source like Jekkle or Zookal? It’s up to 70 percent cheaper than buying a textbook and hoping you can sell it later. Who knows, you might even get one with all the important stuff already highlighted!

Look for inexpensive entertainment

Cheap fun can be found in most university towns, and some of it is free. Student discounts may be offered too. Options include botanical gardens, parks, museums and galleries and student orchestras, bands and plays. For example, here’s the list of ideas from Lonely Planet of free things to do this year. They offer handy guides for major cities across the globe, too.

Choose a cheaper mobile plan

You might have to cut back on your minutes or texts, but chances are you’ll find you don’t miss them that much. The advantage might be that you’ll have more time to study, get better marks, start a more successful career and retire rich by the age of 40! Wouldn’t that be fun? WhistleOut is one place you can compare mobile phones and plans to find a way to save.

Exchange skills with other students

Among your circle of friends, there are people with a wide range of skills. These likely include computer repair, cooking and baking, sewing, tutoring, painting and basic car or bike repair. Exchange services. For example, an hour of math tutoring might be worth two or three delicious rice or ramen dinners or a good cleaning of a laptop computer. The first step is to find out the secret talents of all your friends and then start making deals with them that save you both money.

Philip Piletic is currently working as marketing coordinator for a major company in Brisbane. In his free time he likes to write about business, education, technology and self-improvement and share his knowledge and insight with others. Connect with Philip in Linkedin.

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