With student unemployment hitting an all-time high, you might be wondering where your next meal is coming from, never mind how you’re going to pay for all those expensive books. As for student debt, it’s something you’d rather not accumulate it in the first place, right? The good news is that practicing even a few of the following savings strategies can prevent you from accumulating a student debt that will last you well into your mid-30s.
Whether you’re living on campus or not, Mr. Noodle is there to warm you up on those cold winter days or comfort you after receiving a C+ on an essay. If you’re one for a more nutritious meal choice add veggies like carrots, available raw for less than two dollars a bag even in winter. “A lot of people have good intentions and buy healthy foods, but when they end up going bad it’s not a good financial plan at all,” says Laurie Campbell, executive director of Credit Canada.
Want to enjoy a meal with all your friends without having to fork over some large dough? Have a big mid-term coming up that requires long hours and much brain power? Instead of eating out, hold a potluck and get everyone to bring a snack. “Anytime you want to do a dinner get-together, holding a potluck is a great idea. You’re not paying for everything yourself, you’re not going to an expensive restaurant and you make everyone fork over their money as well,” says Campbell.
It’s always cheaper to buy a ten pack of something rather than buying one at a time. Bring some friends to the grocery store with you so you can all take advantage of the discounts you get when buying in bulk. “A lot of people will be totally interested in doing this if they know it can save them some major cash,” Campbell says.
Don’t limit your research skills to the classroom. Use them to find the best spots to visit and free events to attend on campus and off. “There are so many things to do that are free,” says Campbell, “Like outdoor skating, swimming pools or even parks.” If you like to unwind with a beer, many clubs and pubs offer cheap pitchers and no cover depending on the day of the week. And don’t forget ladies’ night, ladies!
Do you have a first date, birthday bash or a holiday party coming up and feel like you have nothing to wear? As a student, you can’t afford to buy something new every time you dress up. Although you might not get away with it later in life, there’s a student code of ethics that allows you to borrow clothes from friends, roommates, or even people you just met, as long as you ask permission and take extra care when wearing and washing to not ruin the garment. So, if shopping is your vice, reach into your girlfriends’ closets instead and try to picture yourself in your favourite department store.
“When you’re dating, everyone thinks that you have to provide the world,” Campbell says. You don’t need a lot of cash to have a great date; you just need to put a little more effort and creativity into it. “If you want to go for drinks look for cheap things to do before,” says Campbell. Like cooking dinner at home, or going to a venue with live (free) music, an art show or poetry reading. Also keep an eye out for campus events like guest lectures, music recitals, art exhibitions and plays.
Are those clothes you never wear starting to get in the way? Is your movie, book, or CD collection turning into a dust collection? Have a get-together with your friends to swap stuff and you’ll find that your junk could really be someone else’s treasure, or vice-versa. You get to have a party, get rid of stuff you don’t want for new things you do and you don’t have to spend a dime!
We all know how much textbooks can cost. If you know for certain the instructor hasn’t changed the course books from the previous year, than buy them used from someone who has already taken the course. Campbell says to post the name of the books you want to sell on a bulletin board that’s easily accessible for other students. And, hopefully they will do the same. If you’re having no luck trying to find a used book, you could also split the cost with a classmate and make a schedule for sharing the book. This will also help you keep up with your reading, since you know you only have the book for a couple of nights per week.
The stress from assignments and exams can really get to you. When you feel the pressure coming on, head to the gym and leave some of it there. Most colleges and universities have their own gyms that charge a very low annual membership fee. “Take advantage of that,” Campbell says.
Most stores, movie theatres, attractions and fast food chains offer discounts to students, even if they don’t advertise them. Ask, because if you don’t, you’ll never know. These and more tips on managing limited funds are available on the Credit Canada website. jp