Managing money as a student can be challenging.
How are you supposed to save money with limited income and plenty of things you wish you could pay for?
Student life is an important step of anyone’s life. You get to build strong relationships and create lifelong memories.
So how can you make the most of this time without ending up broke or living too frugally?
How are you supposed to save enough money while enjoying life as a student? Is that some sort of impossible wish? IT ISN’T.
➯ By applying the principles of this article, you’ll know exactly how to save money as a student. Not only will you be able to save enough, but you’ll build what your future will look like.
So let’s get started!
BUDGET IS KEY
While there are many little tricks to save money (coupons, discounts, happy hours…), the most important step is to have a budget.
Skipping that step will almost guarantee the failure of your savings. Yes, it would be like trying to lose weight by walking 30 minutes a day. Sure, that would be healthy! But the only thing you need to lose weight is a calorie deficit. Just as the only thing you need to save money is having a budget.
A good budget will allow you to save money automatically without proactively thinking about it.
You’ll just have to plan it once, and then repeat.
HOW TO MAKE A BUDGET?
The method explained below is applicable whatever your financial situation is.
Write down your income and expenses
It’s time to sit down with a nice cup of coffee/tea and some nice lo-fi music.
Take a sheet of paper, open Excel, or whatever tool works best for you.
➯ For the purpose of this exercise, we created a free Excel document to calculate your budget. You can download it below.
Calculate your net income
Let’s start with your monthly income.
Ask yourself: how much money do I earn per month?
That could be the total amount of money you get from your family, the government, and/or the salary you get from a side job.
Calculate your recurring expenses
Once you calculated how much money you earn each month, it’s time to check your recurring costs.
Recurring expenses are the fixed costs that you have to pay each month.
These costs can be split into different categories:
- 🏠Home (rent, electricity, gas, water, etc.)
- 🚗 Transport (gas, car insurance, maintenance, parking, public transportation, etc.)
- 📞Bills & Utilities (mobile phone, internet, Netflix, etc.)
- 🥖Groceries (the average amount you spend on groceries)
- 🏥 Health (health insurance and other related recurring monthly expenses)
- 🏄Entertainment (such as a gym membership)
- 📚Education (school, student loan, tuition, etc.)
- Other recurring expenses
Make sure to not include one-time expenses such as shopping as they are not essential.
Calculate your available income
Your available income is the money that is left once you’ve paid all your recurring expenses.
➯ A portion of that money will be for you to save. And the other part will be to spend on fun stuff (which is also quite important).
Decide how much available income to save each month
Let’s be realistic for a minute. Yes, saving money is important. But you can’t expect to save 100% of your available income. Student life is about creating long-lasting memories, remember?
While you must save enough money to have financial stability, you also need to have a sufficient social life. What you need is a good balance between saving while enjoying life as you should.
So how much should you be saving?
The most important is to save an amount of money adapted to your situation and needs.
How much money do you need to spend on non-essential things? How much money do you need to feel fulfilled while keeping control of your finances?
➯ If you have no idea how much money you should save, that’s ok! You could try to save 100€ each month and see how difficult it is. At the end of the month, see how it went and adjust your budget accordingly.
If you don’t take into account any social needs in your budget, you won’t stick to it in the long run.
Automate your savings
➯ Now that you have a savings plan in theory, how do you stick to it? (for real!)
This is the last step you need to achieve your goals. Do not take it lightly. By following these tips, your financial journey will never be the same.
As soon as you get your monthly income on your main bank account, transfer your planned savings and fun money to different accounts.
Why is this absolutely necessary? Because with one account, you can’t separate the money you’re supposed to spend or save. And that’s how things get messy.
➯ Do this right away, and you’ll be sure to save money consistently with no effort.
3 bank accounts for 3 different purposes
➯ A main account to receive money and pay monthly bills
This is the account you’ll use to receive your monthly income. Use it to pay your necessary expenses.
➯ One separate account for savings, and one for entertainment expenses
Having one bank account dedicated to savings and one for entertainment can be an amazing solution for several reasons:
- You will never spend money that was meant to be saved or used for monthly bills. You will be in control at all times, without thinking about it.
- Get an account that won’t allow overdraft. In this way, if you’ve spent your entire budget, you will never pay bank overdraft fees.
- Use an account that enables you to set up a monthly and/or daily spending limit for extra control
- Bonus: with some bank accounts, you can earn rewards on all purchases. You will literally make money as you spend.
WHAT CAN YOU DO BESIDES MAKING YOUR MONTHLY BUDGET
Congratulations! If you’re here, it means you’ve already successfully created a solid savings plan!
➯ Now that you’ve done the most important part, there are still some things you could do to improve your savings.
We’ve listed a few of them here.
Get a part-time job
Obviously, increasing your income increases the amount of money you can save.
Just remember to adjust your budget based on your new available income.
Live with roommates
Living with roommates is one of the best solutions to benefit from less expensive and more comfortable housing.
Don’t be too influenced by overspending friends
Whether it is conscious or unconscious, we are all influenced by our close environment. For the better or the worst, our friends impact many of our decisions. This is why you should be careful about who you let in your close environment.
If you only hang out with people who mindlessly overspend every time you see them, this will probably have an effect on you. While overspending friends can still be good people (obviously), they shouldn’t make you feel bad about not spending as much as they do.
Prepare your meals in advance
God knows how tempting it is to order Uber Eats after a long and tiring day. While that’s something perfectly reasonable to do sometimes, this shouldn’t be a default option as it is more costly.
This is why you should plan your week ahead. By cooking large quantities of food at once, you’ll be able to save both time and money.
Sell things you don’t use anymore
Nowadays, there are countless platforms that enable you to sell old things anytime, anywhere. That could be a good way to clean your room while making some money on the side.
From now on, you know exactly how to save money as a student.
By sticking to your plan and continuously learning new things about personal finance, you’ll be unstoppable.
We wish you the best of luck on your journey to financial freedom!
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