3 Reasons It’s Easier to be Frugal as a Student

I have been in school for quite some time; I graduated from one shorter program before going into a longer, more involved program that would undoubtedly help me advance my career but also keep me in school for longer than I had intended originally.

One thing I noticed during my time off between programs was that I was a lot more frugal when I was a student than I was when I was out of school.

frugal student

frugal student

The more I thought about it the more the reason why this was the case came to fruition for me. It’s really easy to be frugal when you are a student.

How so? Let me show you.

1. You are Surrounded by Poor Students

It’s so much easier to be frugal and not spend money when you are surrounding by people who don’t have much of it to begin with!

Granted, just because you are around many students who don’t have much money doesn’t really mean that they aren’t spending a lot of money, because it’s so easy to get access to debt these days for anybody even students who don’t have an income, but still. I find that students are still pretty frugal.

Also it’s helpful because when you are a student usually lots of your friends are students too so they don’t want to spend a lot.

2. You Are Expected to be Frugal as a Student

When you are a student there is no expectation that you will have a lot of money or will be spending a lot. When my friends and I go out and they aren’t in school and I am, they tend to just expect me to want to do cheaper things like go for one beer instead of going to a hockey game.

Especially by people who have been in the student situation and know what it’s like to be broke from tuition and therefore need to be cheap or frugal.

3. You Haven’t Yet Experienced Lifestyle Inflation

Lifestyle inflation makes it really hard to stay frugal and good with money. When you graduate and start working, earning your first paycheck in your first real job, all you want to do is spend this big chunk of money that is coming your way.

Obviously you shouldn’t go ahead and spend it just yet. In fact you really should be saving as much as possible so that you can pay down your student loans, if you have them, or save up an emergency fund after years of not being able to save while you were in school.

While you are in college, you have yet to experience major lifestyle inflation so you don’t know what it’s like to be able to blow some cash in any way you’d like (without debt). This makes it easier to stay on the right frugality track.

 

When you were a student (if you ever were) did you find it easier to be frugal? 

3 Reasons Why It’s Crucial That Students Meal Plan

Have you ever meal planned?

I know meal planning can take some time, and as a student who (hopefully) also has a job to help pay for the cost of tuition and textbooks, you might not have very much time.

However, you likely also don’t have very much money, and meal planning can really help out with the cost of food.

I’ve already touched on some snacks that you can eat that are much more healthy than the vending machine alternatives, and tend to be also much cheaper.

But what about full out meals?  Here are some reasons why students should absolutely meal plan:

Meal Plan to Save Money

Again, meal planning will help you save money, which, as a student, you likely do not have a lot of.

students should meal plan

students should meal plan

Money is limited and why spend more than you need to on food? Food should be consumed to fuel your body, and if you can do so for less money, you should take advantage of the opportunity.

Meal planning is cheaper because of less waste and the ability to plan around food sales. Plus you can get rid of what you already have in your cupboards.

Meal Plan to Be More Organized

I have a hard time with keeping on top of everything, from homework to my job to group projects and my social life. Throw meals in the mix and I tend to just grab something in the cafeteria quickly between classes unless I meal plan.

If you meal plan, it would only take less than an hour a week to organize your meals for the rest of the week. You’ll definitely benefit by having healthy and homemade meal options without having to think about it later on.

Meal Plan and Go Green

Many of my peers in Gen Y are very concerned about the environment and for good reason, too. We are in big trouble as a society if we continue down the path that we are on of mass consumption and mass waste.

Meal planning is green because you have much less food waste and which means less emissions from factories or even farms producing the food that we waste.

Less packaging ends up in landfills if we aren’t always buying the same things over and over again and wasting them.

Meal planning is so worth it and I think all students should meal plan. I have been meal planning for forever and it’s now just a part of my every day life. I couldn’t imagine life without meal planning.

 

Do you meal plan? Student or not, I want to know whether you meal plan and how it has improved your life.  

3 Essential Steps To Start Saving For The First Time Ever

So you did it. You finally decided that you need to think about your future and establish some sort of savings plan. The problem is – especially if you never done that before – you probably have zero idea of how to go about starting to save. That’s where we’ll start – I’ll try to explain a few basic principles to help you start establishing some savings.

1. Break down your finances

The hardest part is to sit down and take a hard look at the situation. What is your income like? Do you have any debt? How big are your expenses? Take a piece of paper and write all of these down neatly. Break them down further with the following questions:

Where is your income coming from?
What exactly are your expenses (how much is rent, food, bills, and commute)?

An easy way to determine this is to assign them to ‘need’ and ‘want’ categories – for example, you might think that you need to buy yourself lunch every day at work, but you could easily prepare it at home. You think you need a 2-bedroom apartment for all your stuff, but you could de-clutter a bit and live in a studio.

It’s really important that you don’t forget anything or even hide it from yourself. Take your time with this step and simply calculate or find out income and expenses and if needed, use bank statements, payslips, and bills to get an accurate amount.

2. Make a budget

Next step is to make a simple budget. I know, it sounds scary, but I promise you it’s not. Start by subtracting expenses from your income. If there’s enough money left (at least ~20% of your income) you can skip to step 3.

If not, you need to decide how you’re going to fix your current financial mess. According to the ‘need’ and ‘want’ categories, decide which expenses can be cut out or at least lowered.

You can either start cutting back (move to a cheaper apartment, spend less money on unessential things) or make more money (change jobs, ask for a raise, pick up a part-time job, sell your stuff). Set up a concrete plan for how much are you going to spend every month on what. If it helps, hang this plan on the wall so you don’t forget about it.

I suggest you start by applying this very simple technique: after paying the bills (that are a fixed, non-optional expense) and putting a percentage of income into savings (also fixed), how much is left for food and other expenses? Split this amount into weekly amounts and start using cash to make these purchases to gain more control over money. It’s important you make paying off debt and putting money into savings a priority and not leave it ‘for the end of the month’.

3. Start saving

To ensure nothing unplanned in the future doesn’t turn your world around, you need to have some sort of emergency fund. This is what I suggest you start saving for first. Pension, a new car, and a house on the beach will wait – a new baby or a job layoff won’t. Decide on how big should your emergency fund be – generally it’s a good idea for it to cover at least 3 months of living without an income. Now that you’ve done your budgeting, it should be easy to calculate this amount!
If you’re anything like me, you’ll find a different excuse every month just to avoid putting that cash into your savings account. That’s why I recommend you set it up so it gets deposited automatically.

Conclusion

To go through these principles again very briefly:

1. First you need to look at the situation objectively and realistically. Write down expenses and income.
2. Determine if your current financial situation is even allowing you to put money into savings. If it’s not, make a very simple budget that you can refine further down the road, when you’ve already implemented it.
3. Automate the depositing process and put savings first. Start by saving for an emergency fund and set a realistic, but concrete goal.

How about you? How did you start saving, and if you still don’t, what’s your biggest hurdle?

Author Bio:
This post was written by Heidi from ThriftyTricks, blog with awesome tips for twenty-somethings on saving money and living on their own. Head over there to learn more about the easy budgeting method and to grab the FREE EBOOK named “How to save money when going out without making your friends hate you”.

Creating a Plan to Pay Back Your Student Loans

When you leave college you might find that the good times feel like you left them behind. The one thing you didn’t leave behind? Your student loans (if you have them).

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Usually you first realize that you need to pay back all of the money you spent around that six-month mark when you have to start paying back your loans. Don’t let it get you down! For many, college is a worthwhile expense that will pay you back in career opportunity and quality of life. Get off on the best foot by planning and creating a plan to pay back your student loans from the very beginning.

Know Exactly How Much You Owe

The first step is to know exactly how much you owe. When it’s for a large amount, sometimes you can receive a bill and not really understand how the all of these costs add up.

When you receive your first student loan bill, make sure you get a itemized bill that lets you know exactly what you need to pay back, when it is due, and how long it will take to pay it off. It’s helpful to know which fees you are owing and create a schedule for yourself.

Get Creative with Your Emotional Pain

When you get discouraged and you are wondering why you even went to college… there’s something you can do. First, try to track down how much each semester college cost you. Then, pay back your loans by semester to give yourself an extra emotional push.

How could this possibly help? Instead of paying back a huge, faceless $15,000 loan, you can instead think of the specific time frame you are paying for. Instead of “College,” it’s “Second semester sophomore year”. Take time to reflect and write about the people you met the things you learned in what you were doing while you were spending that time. This way instead of feeling like you’re just throwing money at the problem, you’re actually paying back an experience that you relate with.

Get Creative With the Ways You Gift

Another way to save money for your student loans is to gift creatively. For birthday presents, Christmas presents and other gifts throughout the year, try using a skill that you learned in college for the gift and include a note that you’re paying back student loans and you appreciate your generosity and accepting this gift.

For a writer, this could mean writing a very kind letter or offering your editing services for free. If you’re an architect, you could make a fun doodle of the person’s dream home with cute ideas about where they can put their things (frame it and give it to them as a gift – why not). Whoever you’re gifting will surely appreciate this touching gift and the process will help you put that money towards your student loans.

Have you started paying back your student loans yet? How is it going?