As a university student who was recently hit with the harsh reality that is bill payments, I’ve decided to create a list of money saving tricks that have definitely helped me make sure I have rent money every month. Although ordering pizza is always a good choice, balancing pizza payments and bill budgeting can be difficult to do.
- The $5 Bill Challenge. How this works is you collect all of your $5 bills and don’t spend them. Even small bills add up and they will quickly. I have split that savings in two and put half of the money into a bank account that I don’t check, essentially an emergency fund (which I strongly recommend having). The other half I keep in a jar at home; this is the money I use to go out. If I don’t have enough in there to pay for my Uber, a drink, and cover, I don’t go out.
- Alternate Saying Yes and No to Going Out. This one can be a bummer at times, but once you add up how expensive going out is, you’ll be amazed at how much money you put into nights you may not even remember. First, I make sure I have enough money to go out, then I say yes to going out one night and no to the next invite. It`s important to have a social life in university, but not at the expense of your financial stability. If there’s a super cool event I want to go to, but it would be the turn to say no to it, I say yes and then no to the next two events.
- Carry Cash on You. This one has been found on almost all financial advice blogs and that’s because it really works. It’s amazing how much more consideration you will put into spending when you have to break a $20 bill for coffee or a shirt. I have student credit cards that earn me free movies (Scotiabank Scene Visa) and cash back at the end of the year (Scotiabank L`earn Visa). Since I still want these rewards, I use my visas for almost everything. BUT, I keep $100 spending money in my wallet for the week. This covers groceries, my phone bill, and spending money. Once I swipe my visa, the money goes right into my bank account to pay off my visa. This way, I get the rewards from my visa, but am still more self-aware of my purchases. Once the $100 is gone, I can`t make any more purchases for the week.
- Student Discounts. If you live in Canada, there`s an SPC (Student Price Card) that costs $9 and easily pays for itself. It works at a bunch of popular stores (American Eagle, Victoria`s Secret, Booster Juice, Bath and Body Works, and much more). Typically it gives you 10% off your purchase, but that adds up so quickly. Plus, many services, worldwide, offer student discounts, you just have to ask. When I lived in Toronto, I realized I could get on the bus by only paying the $2 high school fee instead of the $3 adult fee. Every dollar matters when you have bills to pay! Ask phone companies, internet servers, and insurance providers about student discounts. Lastly, most grocery stores will have a student day where you get 10% off of your bill (typically falls on a Tuesday or Wednesday).
- Price Match. If you don’t want to be a crazy couponer, download the Flipp app. It lets you search every current flyer and circle the items that you`re interested in. Price matching with groceries saves you from making numerous trips to different stores just to get the berries that are on sale.
- Buy Used. When I first got my apartment, I couldn’t wait to go on a shopping spree and have my own, new furniture. With a quick calculation of my monthly rent, phone bill, internet charges, and groceries, I realized buying everything new wasn’t feasible. I constantly searched used furniture sites for dining room sets and end tables. I also asked friends and family if they had any extra furniture they weren’t using that I could have, and ended up getting a really nice leather couch and loveseat for free!
- Ask to Share. If you get the internet, ask some neighbors if they want to split the bill with you. When you go out to eat, ask friends if they want to order the large nachos and split the cost. If you`re grocery shopping and really want the case of chicken breast but know you won’t be able to eat it all, ask a friend if they want to split it. The worst thing people will say is no, but if they say yes, you can both save some money.
- Download “Honey.” This is a Google Chrome extension that automatically searches and applies coupon codes to online orders once you’re at the checkout. This is my favorite hack since it literally requires no effort from you after you have installed it. Any online shopping you do, it will search for coupons and discounts that can be applied to your order. Although it doesn’t always find a code, every little bit helps. To download the extension and start saving on your online orders, click here.
There you have it, 8 tips that have already saved me over $40 this month (essentially a free phone bill). I highly recommend trying some of these tips, because it isn’t fun stressing over finances. It`s important to make time for the fun stuff, but do make sure you have enough money to cover rent each month! Best of luck!