Saving money in today’s economy is a challenge. Saving money as a student can feel completely impossible. And as a student you’re expected to behave like an adult in so many ways that you may not be ready for. Leaving school and heading to university or college is a big shift in anyone’s world. You are responsible for yourself entirely. Your parents might still subsidise you financially, but if you want to make your own money or extra money you’re going to have to work and study simultaneously. What’s more, this is the time you’re bound to make some mistakes. Some big ones too.
You can’t afford to make bad financial mistakes though. During this time you might find you feel like you’re still a child who is being forced into adulthood without the right tools. But regardless of the mistakes you might make, it’s a good idea to always make a concerted effort to hold onto the money you have. You must learn how to make good financial decisions. This requires effort and time because optimising your finances is something you need to research and learn about. The internet abounds with content on financial responsibility that can be applied to anyone, no matter their age and no matter their income. But often it’s best to just start exactly where you are and with what you currently have. Baby steps that will lead to you making better decisions for the rest of your life. Starting where you are and with what you have requires looking around and consciously considering how you are spending your money.
Here are some life hacks that will help you save money every day and in every way. These little savings all add up.
Use cold water to wash your clothes
Using hot water uses electricity and that costs money and it’s unnecessary. If you wash your clothes, linen and towels often enough and with a high quality washing powder then you won’t need the stringent cleaning of hot, scalding water. If you have a washing machine or are in the market for one, purchase one that is an energy saving appliance (ask the salesperson as they will point you in the right direction) and set your washes to cold. If you don’t have a washing machine then don’t head to the laundromat with every load. Wash some of your things in the bath with hand washing powder. You are charged by weight at most laundromats so lighten the load. Your underwear, socks, lightweight t-shirts and swimwear is so easy to wash and will dry quickly, even in the colder months.
Turn off your heater
The winter months in South Africa are really not that cold. We don’t have centralised, built in heating in our homes because our winters are considered mild. Many of us have electric heaters but using these throughout winter will eat up your electricity. You might consider investing in a gas heater as it is more cost effective, but rather just put on more clothes. Keep your doors and windows closed, grab some blankets and put on your hoodie and extra socks. You don’t need to spend money on keeping warm.
Cook your food for the week
As a student you are going to be busy. You’ll be studying, you’ll be possibly working part-time and you’ll be attending to your social life more often than you should. This means you will find yourself eating on the go. Fast food is expensive, it’s an unnecessary expense but because of it’s convenience it’s often a go-to. If you make an effort to cook ahead of time then you will find that you won’t have to turn to fast food. And, fast food doesn’t always mean a meal from a takeaway restaurant. Pay attention to the loaf of bread you buy every week. How much of it do you actually eat? Do you buy too much fruit and vegetables and so you’re always throwing stuff out? This is an incredible waste of money. Buy just enough to make a mince bolognese,a chicken casserole, a vegetable stew or a soup and then eat that for the next three to four days. Yes it’s boring but it’s necessary. Alternatively, cook up a couple of different dishes and portion the food into plastic containers and take them out for defrosting each morning.
Try to make what you need
Did you know that you can crochet a brand new bathroom set for yourself? Now this might make you think of doilies and your grandmother’s home but she is exactly who you need to ask to assist you. Crocheting is easy, you can find a tutorial online and if you choose the right wool and design you could end up with something rather funky and modern. Bathroom sets cost money and they get absolutely ruined. If you decide to purchase a cheap set then one wash could ruin it which means it’s an absolute waste. And, there are many different things you can make in your home instead of purchasing them. Need a bookshelf? See where you can pick up a second-hand wooden ladder. Sand it down, paint it or varnish it and then use it as shelving. If you need a coffee table, head back to your grandma’s house. Find an old coffee table she’s willing to let go of and start a mosaic project. This means it’ll become a feature piece in your living area.
As a student, whatever you need, really think about the alternatives to purchasing something new, paying retail and living beyond your means. It takes some creativity but it is possible to live a comfortable life without a lot of money at hand.