7 Ways to Save Your Moolah
My mum loved repeating this phrase to me, she would always jokingly comment, “You’re a student, you’re supposed to be broke.” And while the word “broke” here is used very casually, I began to see the truth in the words as I grew older. Most (if not all) of the things I had growing up were from my parents’ pockets—their hard-earned money, their hard work. As a child, I wasn’t able to see that and so, many times, I’d spend rather carelessly. As I got older and had my first part time job, then an internship and a full-time temporary job, I grew to see the worth in every little cent. Adulting, huh? So scary. But also exhilarating. So here are some tips and tricks I’ve been advised, or personally encountered and discovered, on how I, as a university student, can save every bit of money I possibly can.
Track & Budget
The first step would be to track your spending. Record every purchase – big and small. With that kind of data, you may just find out what your spending habits are! Reflect on them and decide if there needs to be a change. This practice definitely helps me differentiate my needs and wants and I slowly see myself recording lesser impulse buys over time. The next step? The B word: budget. Now that you’ve tracked your expenses and know how much you’re spending, you can decide how much money to set aside for spending, savings etc. Create a budget, stick to it, and reward yourself for doing so to motivate you further as you accomplish the milestones that you’ve set for yourself. I also keep a personal wishlist which can help to differentiate wants from needs.
BYOW: Bring your own water
If you like to drink water when you’re out or you’re trying to drink more water, bring your own water from home instead of buying it from the shops. Paying for a cup of ice water at food places or a bottle of water at the cinema always feels so painful to me when I know I could’ve saved $1.50 if I'd just remembered to bring my own bottle of water from home. That way you save money and also reduce plastic wastage. It’s a plus for your health to be drinking all that water too! Paying $1.50 for a drink that day may feel rather insignificant but it really adds up. I’m thankful that as a student, there are many water coolers around school that I can go to if I ever need a refill 😋.
Bring along a reusable bag
Now, some shops may charge extra for a plastic or paper bag. If you frequent a place that does so, remember to bring a reusable bag if you’re purchasing items that require a bag to carry them. Because why spend those extra few cents when you don’t have to? And reducing plastic usage is definitely something to strive towards.
Take advantage of discounts and promotions
If you’re planning to spend money on something, check to see first if there are any offers. Promotions and cashback apps mean you get to save a few extra dollars! Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt to just wait and see if a better offer will come along. Additionally, you can always look for cheaper alternatives for that item. Sometimes, I just need an item that is just able to do what it’s supposed to do as the brand may not be so important to me. I usually try to see if the item is available at a cheaper price at shops like Valu$ or Daiso! A pack of wet wipes for just $1? Yes please!
If possible, walk!
Complaining about how “public transport fees is a scam” when you’ve graduated from student rate almost feels like a coming-of-age milestone. Personally, I love the quiet time I have when I go on walks so sometimes I choose a longer walk over a shorter bus ride. Sometimes I do this when I’m travelling back from my school to hall or the train station to my home. This will definitely differ from person to person so adapt it to your own situation as you see fit. (If you prefer to cycle or skateboard or anything really, by all means, do so!)
Homemade meals can sometimes be both healthier and cheaper. The pandemic has made me realise that dining out is sometimes more about being a social affair than it is about good food. Dining out can sometimes be much more expensive because you aren’t just paying for the food but also the service and real estate. Cooking at home with and for the people you’re eating with can be just as much a social affair. This way you can also customise your meals the way you want to.
Go old school with cash
While this is more of a psychological thing, using cash as a means of payment is said to be more painful than paying with cashless means and therefore makes us value our purchases more when we pay in cash. Linking back to point one, this method may help you with your budget goals. Going to the store with the intention of using just the exact amount of cash you brought ensures that you don’t overspend and keeps temptation at bay.
Those few dollars I’m conflicted over spending on may feel like nothing in the short run but over time, it is important for long-term goals, whatever that may be for you! All the best in your Moolah-saving journey!