Money is going to be tight when you go to college. It is not a matter of principle, or because you are of a lower stature, it is just because you do not have the time to earn a wage. People in this world are supposed to spend a certain amount of time working each week in order to gain some sort of finance. As a college student, your time is dominated with your studies.
This means you will not have the time to get a full time job and earn a large wage. At best you are going to have a part time job which will probably dominate your free time and make your studies even more difficult. It is up to you to manage your money correctly, so here are a few ideas to help you.
Portion your income into weeks and pay yourself each week
When you are given your grant or loan money at the beginning of each month, you need to put it into a bank account that is not your current account. You can put it into another bank, or maybe into a flexi-saver account. Divide your amount into the number of weeks in your term, and pay yourself that amount into your current account each week.
You will start to feel the pinch at the end of each week, but you must learn to suffer through these dark times if you want to make your money last the whole term. This will help you to build up the discipline you need in order to live on a real budget.
Only take a finite amount out when you go drinking
This is a very important tip, you must not take your credit or debit card when you go out drinking. Leave it in your dorm or at home, and just take out a certain amount of paper money. If you take out more than you are hoping to spend then you will end up spending it. If you take out your credit or debit card, then you will end up spending that money.
Buy dry and preserved food to eat when times are hard
If you are using the weekly-portion money idea from the first paragraph, then the last few days of each week are going to leave you hungry. You can get around this by buying dry and preserved food. Believe it or not, but the noodles you buy in packets for 17c each are actually quite edible when they are the only food in the dorm.
You need to buy these sorts of food because they give you the option of eating. If you do not, then when you get hungry at the end of the week, you are going to start dipping into the money you should not be spending. Buy powered soup, raisins, nuts, rice and condensed curry paste, etc. Buy stuff that you would normally refuse if there was better food in the dorm.
They will help to get you through the tough times, and you will get a smug sense of self satisfaction when you pay yourself at the beginning of the next week and you can afford honey roasted ham slices and rich English mustard (the type that is so hot it makes your nose bleed).
Switch to powered milk
You will learn to love it, and you will discover that one box of that stuff goes a long, long way. Plus, it means you do not have to worry about drinking your milk because it may go off, and you will have to make fewer trips to the grocery store.
Learn the value of one large meal per day
It’s not a healthy way to live, but you are only young, and it is only something you do until you are out of college. The trick is to eat one very large meal per day, and snack for the rest of it. Stuff yourself during your one meal to the point where you feel sick. You may feel hungry again later, but you will discover that you are not hungry at all the next day up until about 2pm, at which point you should have your next big meal.
Buy your household goods in bulk
Cheap toilet paper and 60c bottles of bleach are the sorts of things you should buy in bulk. Buy bars of soap instead of body wash because bars of soap last longer. Buy a box full for the simple reason that these are the sorts of things you have to run out and get at critical moments. It will save you fuel expenses and/or bus fares from repeated trips for small sundry items. If you do buy body wash then experiment with different types, because some companies mix in a lot of water so that the bottle looks full, but it basically runs away when you use it so that you have to use more. Also, start learning how to fold toilet paper when you are…..cleaning up.
Get rid of your contract phone and go pay-as-you-go
This brings tears to a lot of student’s eyes, but it is a necessary sacrifice if you do not want to spend your last few weeks at college with your ribs showing and your eyes bulging out. Pay-as-you-go will force you to be more frugal with your phone, and will teach you how to love emails and personal visits.