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How to Live a Frugal Life as a Student

The life of post-secondary students is not always easy right now due to of inflation. Expenses such as tuition fees, books, clothing, transportation, food, and drink remain top of mind while potentially relying on the support of our families. According to FP Canada’s Financial Stress Index, published in June 2021: “39% of Canadians polled under 35 say that financial stress has led to health issues and 11% of respondents under 35 say that financial stress has led to mental-health challenges or substance abuse.” Financial problems can cause trouble concentrating on students’ studies, and can affect our future if we are not successful at school. My advice is we must find a way of living a frugal life. To achieve this goal, we need to distinguish between needs and wants, cut down “money eaters” and set up a budget for our expenses.

Needs vs. Wants

Need help clarifying the difference between needs and wants? Before spending, take a moment to ask yourself “do I really need to buy this product?” or “is it necessary for my life?” or “Can I find other ways to satisfy my needs without spending money?” Asking these questions and thinking twice before buying helps to minimize your impulse purchases. You should try not to be influenced by advertising. It is really a challenge, especially during sales seasons such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Boxing Day which gather our attention with promotions and sales. To help filter out these temptations, you should write down a list of your needs, measure their prices, then bring just enough money when you go shopping during the sales season. By understanding clearly what are needs and wants, you will avoid wasting money on inessential items.

Money Eaters – What are they?

There are common money eaters in a student’s life when you study on campus such as coffee/tea, snacks, eating out, the bookstore, and many more. However, there are also ways to cut down on these expenses.

1. Make your own meals and pack them for school. This helps you to have healthy food, manage calories and save money as well. Let us calculate to compare the cost of buying a drink and making your tea. A teacup costs you about two dollars, but it takes only 8 cents for a premier tea bag. If you drink a cup of tea every day, this habit will cost you $60 per month. On the other hand, you spend only $2 to $4 to buy tea bags for a month from the grocery store. Packing your lunch from home helps save more money than drinks.

2. Keep an eye on exclusive deals for students. For example, I applied for a student membership card at Hudson's pub last semester, so I could order free wings every Wednesday if my friends and I sometimes wanted to eat out. Also, I tried to find lower-cost options for other services such as using a Tangerine banking account because it doesn’t charge any fees. Waking 30 minutes every day instead of having a gym membership card. Seek the deals, you will surprise by how much money you can save.

3. Buy used clothing. I usually buy my clothing from second-hand shops, thrift stores, or garage sales. This helps me save a fortune because this clothing is unbelievably cheap compared to brand-new items.

“Money eaters” seem to be unimportant things, but they are invisible thieves if you don’t pay attention to your daily expenses. Controlling them well will bring a bright financial situation to your life.

Stay Within Budget

Setting up a budget for your regular household monthly expenses and keeping it on track is helpful. You should have a monthly grocery shopping budget and household expense budget, and track them every day. At the end of the day, I always write down all my expenses. After a week, I summarize them all, and if any categories are overspending, I will reduce them in the following week. Plan your meals weekly and follow the plan. Only buy enough food based on your plan. Next, set up different budgets for your irregular yearly expenses such as family gifts, tuition fees, books, and vacations. Then, create automatic saving accounts served for different goals. Every month, the bank will transfer money from your cheque account into the savings accounts automatically. By budgeting all expenses, you will manage your financial situation actively.

Overall, living a frugal life as a a student is crucial when inflation impacts our financial situation. Understanding what is essential before purchasing will help you spend money wisely. Mitigating all common “money eaters” and keeping your expenses in the budget will lead you toward becoming financially stable. This lifestyle will rescue students from financial stress and anxiety to prepare for their bright future.

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