Saving money is a good habit, goes the adage. But the lives of most youngsters are not bound by this. It’s hard to keep money in your purse when you have just gained some independence and can enjoy exploring all kinds of new things. Everyone goes through a phase when they spend their bank balance ridiculously, before realizing the importance of saving money.
I got to understand this when I moved to Australia to pursue higher education. Once you are on a limited student budget and burdened by some debts in the form of heavy education loans, it does not take any special effort to realize that the purse should not open that often. But it is very hard not to spend money, especially when you are in a new city/country and every single thing around you is tempting. I have spent more than a year away from home and after going through phases of both spending and saving money, I have come up with some tips that can help you save money and still have fun.
Start saving money with one of the biggest costs: accommodation. Ideally, you should be living close to your university. But you don’t have to have the place all to yourself. It’s okay to be living with other people. Sharing accommodation helps you divide the rent, and also provides an opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. In Australia particularly, you get the chance to experience new cultures, because there is a strong likelihood that your roommate will come from a different cultural background. Moreover, I urge you to consider some other options if you are planning on staying in a hostel or dorm. In my experience, these types of accommodation are a touch expensive, and you can save money more effectively if you live elsewhere.
Bike (bicycle) riding is always fun. If you are living close to your university, you may want to walk or ride to your campus. Apart from the many health benefits, it’s another good way to save money. If, on the other hand, you decide to get a car, your expenses will amplify. First, there’s the initial purchase cost. The cost of a bike is negligible compared to a car. For instance, I can get a reasonable bike by spending around A$200. I would need a minimum of A$2,500 for a car that won’t give me trouble after a few months. Moreover, you don’t have to pay for any fuel when you are riding bike. Your car will consume a lot of it, plus needs insurance and road tax – not to mention maintenance and parking fees. Your call!
I enjoy cooking, mostly because I had never cooked anything in my life prior to studying abroad (yeah, I come from a culture when you don’t have to worry about such things). Still, there come times when you are not in a mood to cook anything and takeaway seems the best option. It saves time and fills your tummy quickly and easily. And for a food junkie like me, it is always exciting to try something new. But make sure you are keeping a check on how much you are spending on takeaways. No matter how tasty the food is, it is both healthier and cheaper if you are cooking your own food. It’s hard to believe, but eating out can actually double your monthly expenditure on food. It doesn’t mean that you should not be eating out at all. Just make sure you don’t do it daily. How about once a week?
Getting a part-time job as an international student is always handy. It has many benefits apart from the obvious financial ones. You gain confidence, help yourself settle into the new culture and again meet a lot of new people. So when you have free time, why not look for some student jobs? Just make sure they don’t affect your studies.
Lastly, prepare a student budget and force yourself to spend only a certain amount of money in a month. If you are exceeding your budget, you will know you need to cut some spending. Stay honest to yourself. Follow your budget and keep a note of what you’re spending money on. You will be amazed to see the outcomes.