Along with the stress of achieving good grades, balancing tight deadlines, experiencing imposter syndrome and endless amounts of guilt, we students also have to deal with the constant anguish around finances. Now if you are lucky enough to receive sufficient funding through scholarships for your degree, then congratulations! But if you are like the majority of grad students (including me), then you are most likely living paycheque to paycheque, taking on extra side gigs, precarious work, and underemployment.
In order to ease this burden in academia then proposal writing will become your middle name. However, this post isn’t about how to get more money, instead, it’s about how to save the money you do have, for longer.
Here are my five creative money saving tips that I use to help draw out my dollar while pursuing my dreams as a student!
1. Use Budgeting Apps
It has taken me a while to actually sit down and utilize this tip but once I did, it made all the difference. There are so many good budgeting apps out there nowadays to help you make a budget and stick to it. Budgeting brings up a lot of deep-rooted fears, so it’s time to get real. I suggest putting aside an entire afternoon to do this properly. Or if you are still going old school, a simple excel sheet or pen and paper works just fine.
Here are some apps to explore:
- Mint is so simple, easy to use and connects directly with your bank. So as you go forward with your month, Mint will use all your details to not only create your personalized budget but also update it (this is the one I use).
- Bank Apps; these days every bank has some type of budgeting app, I am with TD Canada, you can check it out here
- PocketGuard is another popular budgeting app, and it pairs with the Apple watch, if you have one!
- Lastly, Wally is another app that is aesthetically pleasing and intuitive.
Try them out and see what one works best for you. Also, some people are worried about security when using apps, I encourage you to look more into the security features and use whatever feels most comfortable for you.
PRO TIP: Try out the envelope system. Depending on how much money you have for each category per month, take it out in cash and put the cash in individual envelopes with the categories names on them. I found this helped me get used my budget at the beginning and once I had a better idea I didn’t need it anymore. This system makes it easier to see how much you still have left for the month and restricts you from going over your budget.
2. Meal Prep (in combination with grocery deals)
I have said it before and I will say it again – meal prep! Not only will you save money but you have more control over choosing healthy options. Having healthy options on hand will save you from buying overly priced foods on campus that don’t taste that great anyway. Not to mention, they are typically full of salt and/or sugar that will make that three-hour lecture feel even longer. Oh and this includes coffee or tea; invest in a good thermos and make your own at home – a couple dollars here and there add up quick.
If you haven’t already, take a look at my FREE recipe eBook, with 3 recipes that are easy and healthy to bring to class and school, check out more here.
The second part of this tip is to use deal trackers when you meal prep. Set aside an hour every week to check out deals and make your meal plan around the items that are on sale. Some of the apps I use to stay up on the latest deals are;
- Checkout 51, I have gotten a fair amount of money back using this app!
- Flipp shows you where you can find an item at the lowest price and you can even use this app to price match at stores like Fresco, Supercentre, Walmart
- Any grocery store app; I use Metro and Loblaws (the two closest to my apartment)
PRO TIP: Most grocery stores have a day where you can get a 10% discount as a student. So make sure to ask next time you are at your local grocery store and plan your grocery shopping around these days.
3. Go vintage (and green)!
Going vintage is hip now right? When you feel the need to go shopping or you actually need to buy something new, try shopping at thrift stores. Pair these items with the newer items in your closet and you are good to go. I have even gotten some of my furniture from second-hand stores. What’s someone else’s trash is another’s treasure, am I right?
If you are opting to go shopping online instead, try EBATES – it is one of the easiest ways to earn cash back while shopping online.
PRO TIP: Have a special event coming up, a wedding perhaps? Head to a family member or friends house and see what they have in their closet. Borrowing clothes for special occasions can end up saving you tons in the long run, especially for something you usually end up wearing once anyhow!
4. Take advantage of your student card
This is one tip that so many students forget about (especially grad students). Take advantage of the discounts that are offered on your student card. Being a student again has to have some perks, right? So make sure it is in your wallet and next time you are out and about, don’t be afraid to ask!
And if you aren’t already, or haven’t opted out, use transit instead of driving as much as possible. It’s included in your fees and is better on the environment.
5. Get support
This last tip is pretty straightforward. Sometimes you need to seek out support for your finances. This may be asking advice from a family member, a friend, colleagues, a bank, an accountant or a credit union. These supports will have different types of tips, advice, and even offer certain student rates on loans, check one credit union out here.
“A little progress each day adds up to big results”
I know you all will have more creative and unique money saving tips for students to share. So now I want to hear from YOU, comment below or head over to Instagram and post in the comments – how do you save money in grad school?
Until next time,
P.S Don’t forget to use #ScholarCulture #ScholarSquad #ScholarSunday to keep me updated on your experiences as grad students.
P.P.S Applying to grad school for the 2018/19 school year? Check out this FREE eBook on 5 steps to a successful grad school application. Are you in grad school and struggling to find easy lunches to bring to campus? Check out three FREE recipes and full nutritional information here.