Being a student is awesome, but let’s face it, it can be very costly. The best way to combat this is to learn how to be a frugal student.
Student loans alone can be terrifying, knowing that they build-up by the thousands every year that you attend.
If you want to start saving early so that you can pay off your student loans faster, learning how to be a frugal student is especially important.
Generally, any student who’s paying a significant amount in tuition per year knows what the pinch of their wallet feels like.
With tuition taking so much out of your bank account per year, money that can be saved in your everyday life is one step closer to being able to pay off your student loans faster.
Being frugal is easier said than done, since it may mean that you’ll have to part with a few luxuries in your life.
Frugality is largely connected to your habits. Whether you live indulgently or sparingly can have a huge impact on your wallet.
Being frugal as a student is more than just budgeting and monitoring your expenses down to the last cent. It’s fundamentally the choices you make in your everyday life.
As a student, you have the time to look closely at your everyday habits and make the required changes to live more frugally.
1. Save on Your Living Expenses
In general, the closer you live to your school, the more expensive rent will be since properties in school districts are more in demand with young families and families with children.
Due to this, you could potentially save a hundred or more each week on your rent if you choose to live in a location a bit further out from the immediate radius of your school.
The downside to this is that you may instead face increased travel expenses and an increase in the amount of time it’ll take you to travel.
Of course, another option would be to live at home if possible. Even if you did pay rent, it would most likely still be cheaper than living in accommodation in or around campus.
You could end up saving a lot of money in the long run, money that could be put towards paying off your student loans earlier and faster.
2. Prepare your own lunch every day
If there’s one expense that builds up easily as a student, it’s the cost of buying lunch every day.
Generally, all restaurants and places to buy food on campus are more expensive than if you were to buy the same food outside of campus.
While it may be very convenient to buy food on campus as you’re most likely tight on time as a student, it’s both better for your wallet and your health to buy your own ingredients and prepare your own lunch.
The average meal costs around $10 if purchased on campus, and if you attend uni a few times a week, this cost can quickly add up.
When preparing your own meals, you can control your portions and ensure that you’re using your ingredients well and making just enough food for yourself so that you don’t waste anything.
3. Buy second hand
If you enjoy shopping, one of the easier ways to save money is to buy second hand.
You can buy clothes, shoes, accessories, home décor, furniture and so many more things second hand, which can save you a lot of money in total.
Because thrifting is so inexpensive, you have the chance to really explore your style and go outside of your comfort zone.
Aside from helping you save money, there are so many more benefits to thrifting that you can read more about in Top Reasons Why You Should Consider Thrifting Your Clothes.
If you moved out of home for university and you’re trying to furnish your new accommodation, it’s a lot more affordable to buy from the thrift store or from family or friends that have furniture they no longer want.
4. Buy Your Own Groceries
It can be really tempting to eat out for every meal and chalk it up to tiredness and stress from dealing with school, but it can take its toll on your wallet.
It’s understandable that cooking every day can take up a significant amount of time that you would rather put towards studying. However, in the long term, you can save a lot of money and you will feel a lot healthier.
When you buy your own groceries and make your own food, there are statistically significant savings to be had.
Say you spend $10 on lunch and another $15 on dinner every day. That’s $25 per day, $175 per week and $750 per month. Two months of this and you would have enough money for a return plane ticket to any country in the world. Four months and you could have yourself a pretty good holiday.
Now, of course, buying groceries also costs a certain amount. You can stock up on essentials that won’t spoil by buying in bulk and you most likely won’t have to spend more than $70 a week. That’s $105 less per week and $420 less per month!
Think about what you could do with that money.
5. Take Advantage of Student Discounts and Coupons
Almost every store that caters to a younger demographic has a student discount available. All you have to do is hop onto their website for a look or enquire instore.
Student discounts are usually a maximum of 15% off and while it doesn’t seem like much, that’s still money that could be saved, especially if you make a big purchase.
If you’re an Australian student, a great website to see a list of student discounts is Student Edge. Otherwise, simply search the store’s name with ‘student discount’ behind it and if one exists, it should pop up in your search engine.
Coupons are also a great way to save on everyday activities that you might do. E.g. going to the movies, visiting a local attraction, attending an event. There are whole ranges of them on coupon sites such as Groupon, which tailor to your specific location, so you can find interesting places to go when you have free time.
6. Take Public Transport
Owning and maintaining a car can be very expensive. With the insurance, petrol and maintenance costs involved with having a car so high, it’s a lot more frugal to pass over the convenience of driving around and take public transport around.
Plus, the costs of keeping a car on campus will likely take a heavy toll on your wallet if your accommodation doesn’t come with a garage or car space.
By taking public transport, walking or riding a bike to class, you could save a lot of money on car maintenance fees and petrol expenses.
Instead, you could put this money towards your hobbies and joining clubs to improve your student experience.
7. Apply for Scholarships
The best way to be frugal and lessen student debt is to be granted a scholarship, either by your university or by a company or enterprise with an agreement with your university.
Sometimes, there are certain conditions to be met, e.g. you might have to do some summer work or take a few days out of the week to work for said company, but these are great opportunities that you should make the most of.
There is a whole range of scholarships available to students. There are rural scholarships, accommodation scholarships, textbook scholarships, academic scholarships and so many more.
You might be successful in receiving a few of these, but only if you apply. So, apply to all of those that you are eligible for and you may be able to save a huge chunk of your student loans.
Many students stop applying for scholarships once they begin classes at university.
Don’t make the same mistake.
There are so many scholarships available and up for grabs for current students. All you have to do is apply for them.
Even if aren’t successful in receiving them, at least you know that you didn’t leave any money on the table.
8. Buy Your Textbooks Online
One of the most frugal ways to be a student is to wait until the very last moment to buy your textbook so that you know exactly where you can get it for the least amount of money.
Because you can compare prices across a variety of websites, purchasing your textbooks online can save you a lot of money.
If there’s another option available, never buy your textbooks at your university’s bookshop. They tend to mark their prices ridiculously high when there are a lot of cheaper options out there.
Alternatively, if you’re open to purchasing your textbooks secondhand, AbeBooks also has a large range that you can browse, at prices significantly less than buying new.
9. Use Credit Wisely and Only When Necessary
If you have a credit card, limit its use as a card used only in emergencies. Credit is a very easy way to accumulate debt that you may or may not be able to pay off in time. Unless you have a very stable job in addition to being a student, using a credit card is probably not a good idea.
You also run the risk of damaging your credit score before you even enter the workforce. This can possibly lead to difficulty in getting things done financially in the future.
So if you want to be a frugal student, try to only use debit so that you don’t spend more than you earn.
10. Get a job
You can only imagine how hard it would be to save money if you didn’t have any money to begin with.
School is a great time to try out a range of different part-time jobs and glean as much experience from them as you can. It won’t be long before you enter into the professional workforce so allow yourself to have some fun earning money.
There are so many different part-time jobs that are available to students, all you have to do is determine whether or not they are right for you in terms of your availability and your skills. You can read more at Best Part-Time Jobs for Students.
Another awesome and flexible way to earn money on the side is to start a blog.
Having a blog is without a doubt one of the most rewarding experiences of my student career because not only do I get to write to my heart’s content, I also get to learn a range of different skills including managing a website, and learning a bit of HTML coding in the background.
If you’re interested in starting a blog of your own, you can learn more at The Comprehensive Guide to Starting a Blog. Or, click on the image down below to go straight to Bluehost and set up your plan!