Welcome back to Part 2 of my guide to help you save money. If you didn’t catch Part 1 you can here, but basically I want to help students free up cash to allow them to make investments in their own future. Whilst I aim to help students, many of the tips I discuss in these posts will be applicable to people of all situations. This part will be looking specifically at spending habits and how to steer clear of impulse spending.
All my life I’ve had a hard relationship with impulse spending. Ever since I could remember my parents used to tell me money burnt holes in my pockets. Whenever I had birthday or pocket money I couldn’t wait to spend it. This part will cover how I have learnt to slay these impulsive thoughts.
Start a spending diary
Go and buy a small notebook or start a page in your phones notes for this. Any time you think you might want to buy something that isn’t food or inexpensive write it down and date it. Next, wait 20 days. If you still want to buy it after 20 days, you’ve had enough time to think it through properly and save for it. So now if you still want it, go buy it! When you look back at your diary, if you haven’t had a second thought about the item, you probably don’t need it or really want. By doing this you’ll find the amount you buy on impulse will reduce enormously.
Never buy anything full price!
So, you’ve waited 20 days and decided you still want to buy whatever it is you’ve been thinking of. If it isn’t on sale or you don’t have some kind of coupon code or discount STILL DON’T BUY IT. I can’t stress this enough! There’s so many apps and websites out there like Student Edge, honey, Groupon etc that will make sure you don’t pay full price for things. There’s nothing shameful about frugality! The richest people in the world are often the tightest when it comes to money, so why can’t a broke student be? If you can’t find a service to help you discount the price, WAIT FOR A SALE. I’ve worked in retail for almost 10 years at this point, so I can say with confidence that everything always goes on sale if you wait long enough. You’ve already waited 20 days, so what’s another week or two, to wait for a super Saturday or flash sale. You can get through large parts of your life not paying full price for quite a range of consumer products if you just show some patience.
BUY SECOND HAND TEXTBOOKS
I honestly don’t think a student should ever have to buy a full priced textbook, short of a subject changing to a brand new first edition book. At my uni there is multiple Facebook pages where you can buy and sell cheap second hand textbooks from. If it happens you can’t find what you’re looking for there, you can normally find it on Gumtree, ebay or other similar websites. Buying second hand textbooks can be a great way to save money each semester for two reasons. First, textbooks are way too expensive, and secondly, they lose so much value the second you take them out of the store. Also, in my experience if you buy an older edition of the book you get the same content for a much cheaper price. At the start of each semester I will track down what books I need and how much they will cost. Then I aim to sell my textbooks from the semester before to cover the costs of the new books. This allows me to essentially recycle my textbooks each semester.
Develop Cost Effective Habits
Obviously everybody has different hobbies, and I’m not telling you to give up the things you love doing. But if you work out how much some of your favourite things to do cost you on a per hour basis, it can sometimes open up more ways for you to save money. Let’s start with a movie for example. The average trip to the movie with snacks and a drink could cost you anywhere from $15-40 depending on the cinema, what snacks you get or if the movie is 3D. Say you’re there for 3 hours total when you combine the movie plus trailers, it works out to be $5-13 per hour. Now you might think what’s wrong with that. Compare this now to a book, which might cost $20 and last for 10 hours working out to be only $2 an hour. If you spent 10 hours reading instead of going to the movies you’d save between $30 and $100, which to me personally as a student, is quite a lot of money. Compare this again to a Netflix subscription, which at most costs $12 per month. If you were to use your Netflix to the full capacity and watch it for every hour of the month, it would cost you 1.6c per hour (12/744). Maybe even less if you are sharing your subscription with friends as I suggested in Part 1. Whilst it is ridiculous to consider someone watching Netflix for 744 hours straight, it’s just an example of how some forms of entertainment are much more cost effect than others. If we compared 10 hours of Netflix to the same amount of time at the cinema you could save between $48.40 and 128.60 depending on the cinema. I’m not telling you to stop going to the movies and watch Netflix for the rest of your life to save money. But if you take the time to figure out which hobbies allow you most cost efficient entertainment, you can learn to save yourself a lot of money.
Save Every Day
If like me you can feel the money ‘burning a hole in your pocket’ at times and you feel the itch to go spend on nothing in particular, save the money instead! The guys over at Millennial Money have a great post about saving every day to help build your savings momentum. They aim for $50/day which is quite out of reach for me, but I have recently started saving $2.50 a day. Not only does it help fast track your savings like they suggest in the post, but I have found that it helps me steer clear of the ‘spending itch’ I used to feel. On days when I have a stronger feeling to go out and buy useless things, I’ll transfer more to my savings which usually scratches the itch.
That’s a wrap for Part 2 of the students guide to savings money. Poor spending habits can affect your ability to save money for your future. I hope the tips in this post will help you fix negative spending habits you may have. Thanks again for reading and let me know in the comments how you handle your impulses when it comes to spending. I’ve got more tips to come so keep an eye out for Part 3!