students

Money Saving Tips for First Time Students

Money Saving TipsFor many young people, going away to university represents their first independent steps into the financial world – and they can be overwhelming. Having to budget for food, bills, course materials and more can often leave many first-time students feeling depressed and overwhelmed. But it doesn’t need to be a challenge. With a little forethought and planning, it’s still possible to make even the tightest student budget stretch to cover everything you need.

Housing is an important consideration. While the all-inclusive option of student housing may seem like a great idea at first, removing the worry of bills and council tax, most student halls are now run by private companies that are profit-driven and don’t always represent the best deals. It’s worth investigating houseshares as an alternative; the rent is commonly around half the price of private student housing, and your household can work together to save energy and reduce bills. If you get along with your housemates, it’s also a great idea to cook communally. This saves a lot of money on your food bills, minimizes food waste and creates a great environment to live and work in too.

As well as saving money on where you live, an alternative approach can save you money on your course materials too. Check second hand bookshops for your required texts, or ask around on places like Freecycle or University message boards to see if any older students have texts they would be willing to part with for a discounted rates. These days, you can also find many important texts online, so check with your tutor if there is a cheaper way to access the material you need.

As a student, you’ll obviously want to spend some time socialising and having fun, but this doesn’t need to break the bank. Keep an eye on websites like Groupon and LivingSocial to find special deals at local restaurants and offers on nights out, and make the most of discounted students nights at local bars and clubs. You can also get great deals in local shops with your student ID, so make sure you have it with you at all times. Also, check out the fun things to do for free in your city. You’ll find museums, parks, historical sights, hiking and walking trails and plenty more to do that doesn’t cost a penny in every city.

Every student has a mobile phone, but do you really need to be spending the equivalent of a week’s food bill on a contract to get the latest iPhone? Instead, why not opt for an older model smart phone and pay half the price? Or, if you mostly use your phone for calls and texts, a pay-as-you-go tariff could be the best choice for you. Many networks let you order a free SIM card to try out their services, with plenty of deals available such as free texts and free calls to other users on the same network. For international students, check out a specialist service provider that offers discounted rates on calls to other countries. For example, networks like Lebara offer great opportunities for calling Pakistan cheaply, while others offer texts to places like India, China, Africa and Eastern Europe for as little as 10p per text.

Taking these first few steps into the world of finance can be scary at first, but with a little help and advice you’ll find yourself on your feet in no time at all.


Student Advice – Budgeting & Money Saving

Money Saving TipsThe first few days at college or university are pretty exciting, you get registered, find your home for the next year, bid your parents farewell and you are finally on your own and ready to start a big adventure.

For most students though, this will be the first time they have lived on their own and had to fend for themselves. Cooking and washing often come as a shock, but perhaps the biggest challenge is learning to manage money effectively.

If this is something you are worried about, it is important to plan early.
Here’s how to make sure you don’t run out of money!

What Can You Afford?

The good news is that predicting your cashflow for the next 3 years should be pretty simple. You need to start by figuring out exactly what you have coming in. You can add up what you expect to get from student loans, jobs etc…

Now factor in your living costs and tuition. Your tuition fees are probably set at a certain amount per year, so you can take off that amount easily enough. You should also know what you will be paying in rent (and you can estimate bills if necessary); so take off that amount too.

It is easiest to work with your total income over a year and take off your costs. Then just divide that number by the number of weeks in a year (use 52 unless you intend to work over the summer) to find out what you actually have to live-off each week.

Track Your Spending

Once you know what you can afford to spend in a week, start tracking what you actually spend. This may seem like a pain, but it will help you to keep on top of your finances.

Make a note of everything you spend (except for rent and tuition) and each week work out your total outgoings. You can average your spending over a few weeks and you should easily be able to see whether you are sticking to your budget.

If your spending is regularly going over what you can afford, you obviously need to be more careful (or find some additional income).

Learn To Say No

Some of your friends will seem to have more money than you (and some will just not realise how little they have). In the first few weeks especially, it can be tempting to go out all the time, but that is a sure way to over-spend.

It is important to say no when you can’t afford to go out. Or better yet, suggest staying in and everyone cooking together, followed by drinks and games.

Living in student accommodation can be a lot of fun without the need to go out and spend money and if you are careful you can have a lot of fun on a tight budget.

Running Out Of Money

If you keep a budget, you should be able to tell right away that you are going to be short by the end of term, and if that is the case, take action right away.

You could consider moving to a different (cheaper) accommodation if that is an option. Otherwise though you will either need to spend less money or earn more.

One option is to apply for an overdraft to tide you over, and then you can get a summer job to pay it off and hopefully save some extra money ready for the following year. Alternatively; in your first year especially; there is no reason not to get a part-time job to supplement your loan..

This post was contributed by Rick Peterson who writes for a private tutoring website called Uk Tutors. Rick is a mathematician and a lover of science and education.

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/44549151@N03/4794592887/


Managing the students wallet

This post contributed by Katei Cranford.
School is a time for instruction. It can also be a time of financial chaos—from the windfalls of grants to the pits of misspending—students stay on a fiscal roller-coaster. But with some thought, planning and a bit of willpower, you can also coast through college on a steady path toward financial stability.Discounts

Most movie theaters offer student discounts. So do coliseums, skating rinks, museums, art galleries, and all sorts of entertainment venues. The discounts get deeper with computers, cameras, and other electronics. Additionally, many travel agencies and airlines offer student specials—take advantage of these while you can. On a more everyday level, restaurants and local shops typically offer discounts to students.

Food

We all have to eat. Be on the lookout for student discounts at area restaurants. Also, hunt deals and specials, plan your meals according to daily deals at eateries. As a previous financewand.com post indicates, “eating cheaply does not mean that your diet has to suffer, it just means you need to take more care in buying the right foods at the right times.” Remember that eating out isn’t the only option. Don’t fear the grocery store or farmer’s market. Farmer’s markets are great ways to keep your cash circulating within the community and pick up quality food options for a fraction of the cost of traditional super-market shopping.

Entertainment

Living a cable-free lifestyle can literally save hundreds a month. The internet is essential to study and offers a world of broadcast possibilities at a fraction of the cost to subscribe to cable or satellite television. Besides, watching a little less TV frees up time for students to engage their community, see live music, or at least spend the same time watching their favorites shows on the web—mostly for free.

Clothes

Fighting the urge to buy brand-new items one of the best tools in student’s wallet. Be thrifty—hit up thrift stores or consignment shops. College-areas typically have the best thrift stores around. Vintage is always stylish and there are second-hand stores which only accept name-brand merchandise (for all you label hunters out there.) There is often little difference between the quality of brand-new versus gently-used, but the difference in cost can be substantial.

DIY & Home repair

Saving a trip to the appliance store can save quite a bit of cash for students living outside of the dorm. Often students find themselves with older home equipment. Keeping older appliances in good condition may be as simple as ordering a few parts and a screwdriver to repair loose handles or burnt out coils. Also, students often lose their rental deposits due to simple neglect. Holes in walls from posters or shelving can be repaired with drywall puddy and a bit of elbow grease. And carpeting can be patched with glue and scissors.

Taxes and Finances

Student taxes are unlike any other. Understanding the proper deductions or credits to which they are eligible is essential come tax-time. If done correctly when they file taxes, students can see significant amounts of their tuition reimbursed. Additionally, establishing credit is easier for students as credit card companies are eager to grant small amounts of credit to students on the assumption that all students are irresponsible with money. However, the financially-savvy student can reap the rewards of stereo-typed irresponsibility.

Katei Cranford is a recent UNCG graduate and freelance journalist who’s making her mark beyond academia and advising others not so far behind. Her twitter profile kateichan


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