We all struggle with saving, and, yes, there are a thousand ways to save, but they aren’t always practical for student living. Here are 7 ways to save, as tried and tested by Cara.
It’s important to create a budget. Once you have that set up, you know exactly where your money should go. The areas where you usually spend most of your money are:
- cleaning/toiletry products
- things you think you need (but don’t)
Here are a few tried and tested ways to save, from a student who knows how to stretch a note.
1. Weekly vs. Monthly?
To organise a budget you need to draw up a list of your general expenses and try to balance it out with your income. Any left-over money should be saved for emergencies and unexpected expenses.
An advantage to weekly budgeting is that you are dealing with low figures. This makes it easier to keep track of where you spend your cash. If, for example, you spent too much money in the week – take it easy with the spending over the weekend. If you know the weekend will consist of pre-drinks, a concert and an after-party, be stingy during the week.
Another advantage is that you have the same amount of money for every week and won’t have to suffer at the end of month blues.
A disadvantage is that you don’t have money available for your unforeseen expenses. Those textbooks you need for school? Well, you’d have to buy one every two weeks.
Having a monthly budget means you have the cash on you to pay for unexpected expenses – a big advantage for this one. However, it’s so easy to lose track of your spending, which will leave you in the dark by the end of the month – disadvantage.
My advice is setting a weekly limit and having extra money available for emergencies. If there are no emergencies – congratulations. You have a saving system.
There are plenty of ways to save on money by reusing old items and recreating them. Having these items around adds a sentimental touch and gives your space an edge.
That chipped tea-cup becomes the host for a cactus. The empty shoe boxes become organisers for your drawers. The cookie-tin sports all your hair accessories, and the empty glass jars lying around have become proud drinking glasses.
You don’t have to be extra creative to make items useful; you don’t even have to think very hard. Just take a second look at an item before you discard it, then check the internet for ideas and voilà… You just saved.
3. The Cook-Off
Cooking for one can often be boring and expensive. To make cooking fun, cheap, and social, why not involve a few (3 – 4) close friends. Throw a dinner party together and organise a rotation. Basically every one of you cooks once a month – that’s three good meals for which you don’t have to pay.
You can decide to host your dinner party based on when you have food in the fridge or to save your veggies from their looming expiry date. You can also choose to make a meal with whatever you have in your house at that moment. This means you don’t have to go out and buy extra ingredients.
To make it even more fun you can follow the Come Dine With Me series as a theme and rate each other.
Another great save is to cook a few meals and freeze them for those days when the pockets are empty.
4. Get from A to B
Transport costs are a nightmare. Most students are filling tanks by the 50s and my oh my, they accumulate.
Try these tips:
- Car pooling – You don’t even have to have your own car to join a car pooling system. Usually you split the money 3 or 4 ways (however many people join) or you rotate who drives.
- You won’t be the bad guy if you charge your friends R10 each time they grab a lift with you to some place really far. Fill your car up with enough petrol to get you there and back and maybe your friends are even willing to split costs with you.
- Going clubbing but want to beat taxi fees? Pop as many friends into the taxi as you can and whip out your phone to use the calculator to split the fee.
- The Bicycle. This is a great investment for trips that aren’t too far, but too far to walk. Plus, you can ditch the gym contract now.
- Meet new people at Pechakucha Night: Assembly, 61 Harrington Str. 20 seconds to show 20 slides about things you love.
- Walk the Sea-point Promenade
- Climb Lions Head
- Picnic at Signal Hill
- Browse 127 Long Str, Antique Arcade
- Embrace the history at Bo-Kaap cannons as they fire at 12pm sharp
- Hike up Table Mountain
- Tackle the market at Century City Natural Market
6. Make it Yourself
There are so many ways to make your own products. These range from beauty products to candles to cleaning detergent. Making products instead of buying them will bring down your general expenses and often, allow for a more natural lifestyle. All the information is one click away on the internet.
7. Favours for a Pretty Penny
If you don’t have a job, or even if you do and want extra money, don’t be shy to do a few odd jobs that people would pay for. Wash cars for family members and babysit your aunt’s child so that you can buy tickets for that event you’ve been dying to go to.
Someone’s going camping? Offer to water their plants and feed their pets until they return. Use your skills and capitalise on them. If you have experience as a bartender then why not offer to make punch, cocktails or shots at a reasonable fee. If you’re well trained in an instrument, give younger cousins and nephews a few lessons.
Here are a few jobs to try out:
- Car washing
- Garden service
AND MANY MORE…
Now that you are armed with a few tips on budgeting and saving money, I hope you put the extra cash to good use. Remember that saving doesn’t have to be boring, you can make your own game out of it, like setting a timer every time you go shopping and leaving when it buzzes.
Take it from the ones who have been there, done that, and got the t-shirt. Budgeting and managing your own expenses takes some practice and lots of commitment. Click here to learn about one one way you can budget. If you’re in First Year and new to all of this, have a look at this student budgeting experience.