March 18, 2012

How To: Survive Financially as a University Student


Let’s face it; being a university student today is expensive. Not only does your student loan debt pile up with ridiculous tuition fees, but you always find your wallet emptying on inevitable expenses. Add all these expenses and you find yourself being barely able to afford your next meal. Luckily for you, a penny saved is a penny earned. Here are a few pointers on how to keep more money by spending less:

1. Avoid eating out

You’d be surprised at how much money you can save by eating at home. No, I don’t mean you absolutely have to prepare a 3-course meal for yourself that takes you three hours to make. I understand that most university students do not have the time to buy groceries, prepare something, and cook them on a daily basis –  so only do that when you have time. One good way to save yourself some time is to stock up on canned food and prepare something for yourself in 5 minutes. If you haven’t bought groceries in a while, you can look up some inexpensive local restaurants around your area and order take-out. It may be a bit more expensive than making something yourself, but when desperate times call at least you’re saving yourself a buck or two by opting to get take-out. The money you save from eating at home could cover the bill for the occasional dinner with your friends, and more.

It's always good to stock up on canned food. They don't expire for a long time.

2. Find a buddy to room with

The next time you complain about having to live with your parents, think about how much money you’re saving by not having to pay rent. Rent most likely tops all your expenses after tuition. For those less fortunate who were either forced or opted to move out themselves, rent probably takes up a good chunk of their money. It may be inevitable, but it doesn’t mean you can’t cut down the cost of living. Find a close enough friend that you could trust, and look for a place that is somewhat close to your school. Time is money and the last thing you want is to take 2 hours of transit everyday. Being roomies with your friend is also a lot better than rooming with a stranger. You could easily agree on house rules while only having to pay half.

You don't want to be roomies with this guy, do you?

3. Delay spending on things that could wait

Taking transit sucks so you’ve been saving up for a nice car that could get you around. Piece of advice: don’t. You may already have enough student loan and credit card debt that could cripple you for the next five years, so the last thing you want is adding on to those debts. Cars, for example, could suck the money out of you faster than you could make it back. Take into account insurance, maintenance, and gas; after three years you could probably buy another car with the money that went to those expense. Going on a trip is another unnecessary money-drainer. The expenses involved with going on a trip – plane ticket, accommodation, activities – probably hovers around the amount you pay for rent. Delay spending on a car or a vacation and wait until you could work full-time.

Nice car, bro. How much are you paying for that piece of shit every year?

4. Buy and sell used textbooks

It may seem obvious, but last time I checked bookstores still ordered large quantities of textbooks. The annoying thing about buying textbooks is you paid so much for something you don’t even like. It requires a huge sum of money, and most of us don’t even use it that much! To avoid falling for the scam of overpriced textbook publishers, save yourself some money and buy used textbook. The Internet and social media sites are your friends so use it to your advantage. Look for a few sellers and buy the textbooks you need at a much lower price. After the semester is over (assuming you passed your courses), look for buyers online. You may lose a few bucks after selling, but if you invest more time in looking for good deals you may end up profiting in the end!

The textbook industry is out to get yo money!

5. Be smart about drinking

Drinking is a part of most university students’ lives. It’s not our fault; it is society that forces us to drink (unless you’re an alcoholic in which case I can’t really tell you to be smart about drinking). If you want to maintain a pretty decent social life in university, then you have to drink. Alcohol, however, can cost you quite a bit. Not everyone is a cheap drunk so spending a night at a club may cost you $100 without even giving you a good buzz!

Not everyone is a cheap drunk.

First, ask yourself what your intentions are for drinking. If it’s just to socialize, then grab yourself a beer and hold on to it for the entire night. If you’re only looking for that tipsy feeling, then buy yourself some alcohol at the liquor store and pre-drink before heading to the party, and only buy “maintenance” drinks to keep your buzz alive for the entire night. Now if you’re looking to get hammered, buy yourself liquor with high alcohol content so a few shots could already do the trick. But remember, alcohol poisoning can be costly for your wallet and your body so know your limit and always stick to it.

About the Author

Ralph King
Ralph King
Ralph King is one of the two Editor-in-Chiefs of recultured.com. He is a 5th-year Communications student who is passionate about advertising and media studies. His hobbies include obsessing over the NBA and listening to Hip-Hop music. Once in a while, you'll see him strolling the streets with a DSLR.

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