Being a full-time student can put pressure on your bank account since the hours you are available to work at a part-time job have been significantly reduced. On top of that, people say that these are supposedly the best years of your life, so you want to make sure you’re still having some fun and making good memories. The struggle is real: paying for anything during school makes it nearly impossible to save up for things like paying your debts, taking a trip, or buying a car. But I got you. I’ve been in this situation myself for four years now and I’ve gathered a few tips which will help you reduce your spending while still having a good time!
1. Get Involved at School
This is one of the cheapest and most enriching options to having a good time. Whether it be a school event or actually joining a student association, these are opportunities to meet people in your field. As a bonus, you will likely become friends with some of the people you meet and it also looks great on a resume. Best of all? School-related events are usually free or have special student prices, allowing you to have a really good time for less.
2. Know the Difference Between Needs and Wants
When you’re shopping, which we all know will happen eventually during the semester, it’s essential to know the difference between your needs and wants. It’s a good idea is to make a list of the things you need (only if you really need things) before you go. Then try to use all of your will power to buy absolutely nothing else. This may be a little less fun, but at least you get to go and enjoy the activity.
3. Take Part in Scheduled and/or Pre-Paid Physical Activities
You may not notice it, but un-scheduled or drop-in physical activities can be rather expensive. Paying the per visit gym fee, or for individual hot yoga classes is fun but they really add up. Rather than waste a lot of money, you can save by paying in advance for a long-term gym membership, specific class, or team sport. In the long run, not only will you be saving money, but it’ll also be more motivating to go do the physical activity you’ve already paid for it.
4. Visit the Great Outdoors
Spending a nice day outside costs nothing; go outside and appreciate nature for the beautiful thing it is. Some of the best nights with friends are those spent around a camp fire, hiking a mountain, or even building a snow fort (yes it’s still fun in your twenties).
5. Basements are Cool Too
You know what can save you money? Staying in. There’s nothing wrong with having a movie night in someone’s basement, especially when you’re all exhausted and just want to chill. The only thing that a movie night might cost you is the junk food you bring!
6. Understand Your Friend’s Situations
Sometimes the people around you aren’t in the same financial situation. It’s important to make sure that everyone understands each other’s situations. Telling your friends, significant other or parents that you’re “tightening your belt for a bit” doesn’t make you a charity case! If you let them know people will understand if you have a preference for cheaper plans in a group chat, or if you have to bail on an expensive night out.
7. Bring a Lunch or Eat at Home
Always bring a full lunch (with snacks) to school or work and eat at home whenever possible. This may be the ultimate key to saving money in university, especially in Montreal. This in no way restricts you from going out for lunch with your friends or meeting your significant other at the ice cream parlour: what it does accomplish is no longer needing to pay for a full meal. If you don’t want to look too weird, then order a side of salad or fries. Overall you will be spending a lot less on restaurants and it’s also better for your health.
Basically like tip #7, but in regards to getting shwasted. Drinks or bottles in a club are probably some of the most outrageously priced things on the planet (I may be exaggerating, but still). The best way to save when going out is to pre-drink enough to not need to buy a drink at the club. This way, you still get the same fun experience at nothing but the cost of an entrance fee.
9. Set Up a Clear Budget
Each tip individually may seem pretty simple, but when it comes time to really buckle down you need to apply them all. The key to saving money in all departments of your life is making a budget. This is pretty simple; you just need to allocate a certain amount of money per month to each spending category based on your income. Instead of looking at it like a negative thing where you’re cutting expenses, you can look at it as something fun like, “I have 40$ to spend on food this month, let’s find a place where it’ll be really worth it!”
10. Stick to it
The most difficult part of saving money, is sticking to your budget. Too often, there’s temptations that make you dip too deep into your budget for the month. You need to make sure you establish a system to stay motivated. And guess what? There’s an app for that! There are websites and apps like mint.com which hook up to your bank account, and are able to track your spending. In these systems, your budget will be saved and you can set it up to receive a notification on your phone whenever you are close to going over budget in a particular category.