Anyone who’s ever been to uni or known a uni student will know one thing: we are always broke. No matter how much we work or how little buy, we never have money. So being at uni for two years and living out of home for two and half years (on the complete other end of the country to my family), I have become quite good at being broke.
I’ve learnt how and where to cut my spending so I save almost a third of my fortnightly income, every fortnight. Let’s begin with the obvious…
What are you are spending your money on?
My biggest tip to work this out isn’t just to think about it for five minutes and move on. Actually go through your last month’s bank statement and write it down everything you’ve spent money on (every. single. thing. No cheating because you don’t want to acknowledge that you spend $50 a week on nuggets).
Now, get your diary or a planner and write out anything that is direct debited out of and into your account for the next two weeks (think gym payments, private health insurance, loan repayments and even your income from work) on the days they come out.
Here comes the hard part…. Think of how much play money you want for that two weeks (for emergency coffee’s or whatever) and halve it. Yep. Halve it. Take that amount out in cash and stash your cards away for two weeks.
Now I know what you’re thinking; ‘but I need my card for emergencies’. Bulls**t (in the politest way possible). What actual emergencies are you going to come across where you need access to all of your money right then and there? None. Its comfort for you, that’s all.
For the next two weeks every time you go to spend your pocket money and you see it slowly dwindling with every purchase you will start to second guess your unnecessary purchases which is annoying to start with, but then you realise where your money is being wasted.
Do this for two weeks and see how you go. You might realise that your pocket money was actually enough for you which is great! Keep going. Or you might realise you only need another $10 to get you through a fortnight without going insane. Keep going. I promise you will save money.
Lastly! Try not to over budget just so that you 'don’t go over'. For example: don’t budget $400 for groceries when you’re a single person who only usually spends $80 a week on food. That’s just silly. Go as strict as you can to start with and see if you can do it. Then allow yourself more money where you need it.
I have become a pro at cutting out anything unnecessary. Seriously, I don’t get my nails done, my hair gets cut twice a year if I’m lucky, I probably go out for drinks three or four times a year and eating out is only for special occasions. If you want to save for something you really have to cut back anything that is unnecessary. The more you can cut back, the less time you need to budget so strictly so really try your best!
Another area I think I’ve mastered (in terms of spending as little as possible) is groceries.
When my boyfriend and I started living together (almost two years ago) I helped him with his budget. I told him that we could make our weekly food budget $100 between us ($50 each) and still eat health-ily (is that even a word?). Did he believe me? No. Did we do it? YES! Even better, about three months ago I decided to try and get that figure lower and increase our healthy food intake…. Do you think I was able to do it? Heck yes I was! And I still am doing it to this day.
Our weekly groceries now cost us $70-$80 between us (a tiny $35-$40 each a week on groceries).
My trade secret: buy 80% of your food from markets (cheap markets not fancy markets – I shop at Queen Vic markets in Melbourne) and only what you can’t get there buy from the super market. Our weekly shop breaks down like this: $30 cash to take to the markets for fruit and vegetables (any change goes in our ‘date night’ jar – awwww cute), and up to $40 for meat, eggs and random cupboard things like rice paper, coconut water and things like toiletries/laundry powder etc.
Honestly, markets are so cheap. Admittedly, some markets are overpriced so you may have to do your research but have a look at the photo’s below to see my last three weekly shops, all have been under $30.
Shopping this way has also allowed us to eat more vegetables in our meals instead of basing our meals around meat and carbs so we’re saving money and eating better… who would have even thought that was possible!
Another thing that is important when moolah isn’t exactly all around (and you always gotta eat obviously) is be prepared for your day! Know what you’ve got on, when you have to be places and how much/what food you will need while you’re out. Being stuck without food when you’re not at home is going to lead you straight to using money that you didn’t need to use.
Carrot sticks, fruit, almonds, even a can a tuna in your bag will save you until you get home – unless that’s all you take on a full day out of the house… anyway! You get the idea.
Like they say: failing to prepare is preparing to fail. On that cliché note, this not-so-broke uni student is going to stop now.
I hope these tips will help you a bit with your savings!