If your budget is tight, consider these ideas to cut costs
As many students know, getting an education can certainly help your future employment prospects, but in the near term, it can make your budget tight. If you are looking for some tips to help you save a little cash, try these simple ideas:
1. Cut out the little things that add up.
Bring your own water bottle to school or work instead of buying bottled water. Skip the coffee shop, the soda machine, and any alcoholic drinks. These small purchases add up each week, and take away from your cash flow.
2. Buy used items when possible.
Whether it’s textbooks, clothing, furniture, or a big purchase like a car, it helps to buy things second-hand. Former students may sell you their old books, or your school may have a bookstore that sells used books. For clothing and household items, try thrift stores and consignments shops, or online services like Craigslist or Ebay.
3. If you smoke, try to stop smoking.
Smoking is not only bad for your health, but it’s also hard on your wallet. If you can quit, you will save a lot of money! If you smoke a pack a day, at $7 per pack, that’s $2,555 per year that you are spending on cigarettes! Do yourself a favor, and find a way to quit. Here are some suggestions from the American Lung Association on quitting smoking.
4. Wait on getting a pet until you have a steady job.
Pets are great companions, but they can be expensive if you are on a limited budget. Some estimates say that the cost of owning a cat or dog in the first year is over $1,000. After the first year, the expenses drop to about $500 per year. If you want to have pets, wait until you are earning a good, steady income.
5. Pay your bills on time.
Keep a schedule of when your bills come in, and make sure you have enough money to pay them on time. If you are late, you may be charged late fees. These late fees are money out of your pocket that you could have spent on something else. If you have bills that you cannot pay, call the company to see if you can arrange a different payment plan.
6. Manage your credit cards wisely or cancel them.
Many people are aware that credit card debt can get out of control quickly. If you pay only the minimum amount each month, the interest that you owe will build very quickly until you find that you are deep in debt. Instead, do not charge anything that you can’t pay for. Pay off your credit cards each month, and don’t let yourself get behind. You don’t want to waste your limited funds on credit card interest payments!
7. Find better service deals
How are you paying for your cable, phone, and Internet service? Are there other providers who might charge less for the services you use? Review the amount of data and minutes you typically use each month on your cell phone, and see if you can find a provider who can offer a package that meets your needs at a better price. Review your TV usage. Are you really watching much TV? Maybe you don’t need a full cable package while you are a student.
8. Manage your heat and air conditioning
In the winter, try turning down your heat one degree and see how it feels. If it’s not too cold, try another degree. Turn down your thermostat at night and pile on the blankets! If you try these steps, you may be able to get used to having your home colder and saving on your heating bills. The same goes for the air conditioning. Try to live with it a little warmer to save on the cost of your summer electricity bills.
9. Spend less money on food
In the busy life of a student, it’s tempting simply to grab food at the nearest fast food restaurant. But to save money, you should avoid eating out. Plan your trips to the grocery store carefully. Decide what you will eat for each meal, and create a list.
Use coupons when possible and stick with store brands if they cost less. When you are at the store, stick to your list, and don’t make impulse purchases. Use leftovers and re-purpose them into new meals to make your groceries stretch even further.
10. Evaluate your living situation
Is your rent or mortgage payment breaking the bank? Do you have any options, such as taking in a roommate, moving to a less expensive apartment, or moving in with a relative while you are a student? If so, consider making a change.
11. If you have children, consider these extra tips for saving money.
- Shop for clothes at consignment shops, or see if you have a relative who will give you hand-me-downs.
- Look for coupons for diapers, and buy in bulk when you can afford it.
- Breast feed if you can, which saves money on baby formula.
- Research your day care and babysitting alternatives to find what best fits your child’s needs and your budget.
12. Keep track of your budget
The Federal Student Aid program offers a helpful online tool to help you create a budget. With the online tool, you can keep track of your income and expenses and adjust your budget as needed. Many people find it’s easier to save money if they are keeping careful track of it.
This article was provided by the Harris School of Business. The Harris School offers career training programs in a range of fields, such as medical assisting, dental assisting, massage therapy, and more. With campuses in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Connecticut, our students can choose from eight convenient locations. Visit our programs page to learn more about our school, or fill out our simple online form, and a representative will contact you shortly.