I always get told: “Wow you have so much money. How do you afford to travel so much?” Truth is, I don’t. I’m just a cheap full-time uni student like most, but I sacrifice a lot in order to save, and I strategically spend money. Here’s my list of effective ways to save money at home:
1) Live at home.
While a lot of my Sydney friends have moved out of home because they want independence and freedom, I know that the time will come one day, so I’m not in a rush. If you have the opportunity to still live at home, do it! Think about it, no rent, bills or food costs.
2) Don’t buy lunch.
Sydney, like a lot of cities, are very expensive to eat out. Instead of buying lunch on campus every day, I’d pack some lunch. It can be as easy as making a quick sandwich in the morning. Trust me, anything will be cheaper than buying lunch everyday.
3) Think of other ways to catch up with friends/family rather than through a meal.
I used to go out for dinner at least once a week, which I think is a lot. I always thought that it was the only way I could catch up with my friends and family. Be creative! Go for a hike, picnic or a bike-ride. Do anything that involves going out but doesn’t involve spending money.
4) Become the voucher queen.
Vouchers are my best friend when I do look for places to eat. In Sydney, I have an Entertainment Book, which has 500 or so pages of vouchers. This book gives me up to 50% discounts on everything Sydney, from restaurants, pubs, cafes, to entertainments and hotels. If you’re like me and don’t really care about ‘eating at that famous restaurant that’s just opened,’ use vouchers and you might find some great hole-in-the-wall places.
5) Put aside some money on a term deposit account.
My bank gives me terrible interest rates, which is why a term deposit account is amazing. They give you much better interest rates under the condition that you cannot touch that money for the duration of your chosen time. Your chosen time can even be as short as one month, but every bank has a different interest rate for different month, and these can change, so make sure you check the rates out first. For me, my bank gives higher rates for 3, 7 and 12 month accounts, so I always put some money in there for 3 months. By the time the account closes, I just open up another 3 month one, and this one would now also include the extra money that I’ve earned over the past 3 months. It’s earning money with the money that would’ve just sat in my account anyway.
6) Don’t buy textbooks.
I’m always that kid who gets the textbooks out of the library on the very first day of uni before everyone’s had a chance to borrow it. If I really want/need a book, I’d always buy it second-hand (there are plenty of websites for cheap second-hand textbooks). Or, I’d buy/borrow an older edition of it, which are much easier to attain. Just make sure you check with your professor first!
7) Use a prepaid phone plan.
I’ve been on a prepaid plan for about a year and a half now, and it’s saving me SO MUCH MORE money that I thought I would! I get wifi at home and at uni, and these are pretty much the places that I spend most of my time. Why would I need data or unlimited texting? I’ve also gotten back into calling my friends on my home phone (We have an amazing home phone plan as my parents need it), rather than spending hours of your day texting.
8) Whatever you do and wherever you go, have a budget.
Whether it’s grocery shopping, trip planning or eating out, always have a budget in mind. This will not only save you from overspending, but also focuses you on the future.
9) Track your expenses.
I have an app for this, where I put in as much detail as I can on what exactly it is that I spend my money on. At the end of each month I view my summary of spending, and reflect on how I can improve in the next month.
10) Don’t be materialistic.
I used to spend so much money on clothes, but now that I’ve built a fairly decent wardrobe collection, I no longer need to buy anymore. I repeat outfits (Mix n match is key). I still get compliments on my outfits. I still feel good in them. If you can go a month without buying materialistic products, you’ve jumped over a massive curdle already.
11) Walk as much as you can. Whatever you do, don’t drive.
If you live in a big city, consider not even owning a car (Think about the insurance costs!). Public transport also costs money, which might not seem a lot, but it accumulates. Think of walking as both an exercise AND a mode of transport, and who knows, you might come across a secret garden or the cutest dog while a train trip can’t do that.
12) Go grocery shopping after dinner.
From experience, I know that I buy more food when I’m hungry than when I’ve just eaten. It’s because I’m thinking about food more, so I’d buy more. Also, supermarkets usually have end of the day sales to get rid of any leftover food. While you might not get as much choice, if you’re not too picky the quality’s just as good.
13) Exploit that student discount.
Public transport, entertainment, healthcare etc. Everything has student discounts. Find out what kinds of discounts you are entitled to, and exploit them while you’re still a student.
14) Make your coffee.
Sure, coffee might not seem expensive, but it accumulates. I recently did a barista course, just so I could make my own coffee at home. Think about the proud moment when you taste a cup of coffee that’s just as good as your favourite barista’s.
15) Pay in cash.
I always make sure I have cash on me, just in case the place I’m going to has surcharge for card payments (This is when budgeting becomes useful again!). Also, the thing about credit cards is that it’s so easily done but yet so dangerous. With cash, I can see exactly how much I’m spending and am more aware of my money.
16) Ditch the gym.
I consider myself as a relatively active person, but I have not gone to the gym in 2 years! I run every morning, and when it rains I watch YouTube workout videos (Check out Fitness Blender). Whatever kind of exercise you do, think of a way that you can do it without spending money.
17) If you have a niche, use it.
If you’re good at doing something, use that skill accordingly. If you did well in a particular subject at school, you can tutor it. If you’re good at art, try and get commissions. For me, I’m a professional musician, so I’m able to earn most of my money from teaching music, which is lucky.
18) Remember that it’s all about choice.
A lot of money spending is impulsive behaviour. Think about impulsive behaviours this way: you can either choose something that will gratify you immediately, or you can withhold that choice in order to get a bigger and better outcome in the future. For me, whenever I’m faced in a situation where I have to spend money, I always try to take a moment and think about the choice that I was making. Even if you mutter that word, it does its magic pretty well.
What are some other effective ways that you save money while being at home? I’d love to hear your comment below.