Saving on A University Budget

If there’s anything I’ve learned going to UWI, “Being Broke Sucks”, is one of them. It sucks even more when you have no clue where any of your money went. Everyone knows the importance of savings, having financial goals and investing but most of us do it wrong-which makes the whole thing a lot more painful than it needs to be. I’ve outlined a few tips to help you save cash while on a University budget.

1. Set Clear, Time Bound Goals

Buss out the calculator and figure out how much (or little) you can put aside each week and calculate how much you should have by the end of the semester and school year.  Make your goals S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) and do regular check-ups (I suggest monthly) to make sure you’re on track to achieve your goals. Sometimes circumstances may change so leave room for a bit of flexibility.

2. Pay Yourself First 

Up until recently I did the painful “save what’s left” method and was trapped in a miserable cycle. Let’s be honest, there really won’t be anything left once you’re through with those “extra stuff at the supermarket” you decided to treat yourself with. So I’ve started to “pay myself first” by putting all the money I’ll be needing in my spending account/wallet and the exact amount I want to save that week in my savings account. I tell myself that I can’t spend what I don’t “have” so I’m forced to live within the means I’ve provided for myself.

3. Calculate The Actual Value of Your Purchase 

I do this by: The amount of times I’ll be able to use/wear the thing I’m about to purchase to divide the face value of the product. Explained best here:

Or by calculating how many hours/days I’d have to work to buy the thing I’m about to purchase. Then I question: Do I REALLY need this? Most times, delayed gratification is worth the wait.

4. Plan Your Meals 

I spend waaay too much on food when I go out to eat, it could be at the stall or at the UPTs latest restaurant craze (HYPE! Lol… they usually don’t live up to the hyp so nobada). But if order to avoid spending too many thousands on food a week, go to the (super)market and learn how to cook. If you don’t know how to cook, University is a great place to start learning. I’ve started eating a lot healthier since going to University (I know right!?) because mi eva bruk!

Excerpt From Jherane’s Weekly Cheap Shopping List:

Don’t buy processed foods (only bread, really)

Don’t eat meat (except eggs)

Buy a lot of LOCAL fruits and vegetables that are in season (Downtown is cheaper Supermarket, the Supermarket is often cheaper than Papine Market) 

Don’t drink juice and soda (4 tiny bottles of coke cost more than a Gal. of Water)

Avoid the middle of the supermarket, too many preservatives, salt and tax. 

But no matter how much healthy cheap food you buy, it doesn’t matter if you still run to the stall/Juici/KFC to buy expensive junk food because it’s convenient on your way to class. So:

Pack Healthy Snacks

Get a Water Bottle To Keep Hydrated

Find the best way to make your meals for the following day/week early and package them for convenience

5. Learn to Say No to [Costly] Socialising 

No, I’m not just being shy-stay-in-my-room-all-day-Jherane. Whether it’s Movies on a Monday, Inte Thursday, a party the friday, a restaurant the saturday —a lot of money slips through the fingers of University students via socialising. I don’t recommend you quit hanging out with your friends just because you’re trying to save some cash, but I do recommend you set aside a small “entertainment money”. It doesn’t have to be $1500 a week to pay for that party you plan on going to (every week). Rather, I suggest you be selective where you’re going and save likkle likkle every week util you can make that goal.

It’ll probably suck not being able to be at every social event but if you can’t explain to your friends that you don’t have any money for a specific activity–you probably need new friends. Kidding (not really)

Believe me, the DJs have the same playlist down by Union playing for at least 4 months before they add one or two songs, you can afford to miss more than a few parties (Except Masquerade and Skrillex X Major Lazer, save for those from now)

6. Do I Have To Pay So Much?

This is a question you should ask yourself everyday. Skip On Time taxi if you don’t absolutely need it. Leave out early take a route taxi and walk any likkle distance if you can. Town taxi nuh so bad like country wid 4 people a back- so you’ll survive.  Also, ask for a student discount wherever you go a few places have student discounts but no one knows about them because they never ask. Some of them are silly (Really Hi-Lo 3%?) but trust me, there are days you’ll need a likkle $20.

7. Save What you Have Left 

If by some miracle, after you’ve paid for ALL your expenses you still have money left, don’t treat yourself yet, add it to your savings account- practice delayed gratification! This idea of adding any money (and coins!) you have after clearing your expenses will not only help you to reach your goals faster but you’ll learn discipline… LOL Let’s be real, limit how much you’ll treat yourself for a particular month and set a cap BEFORE the month starts. Whatever is left after you’ve set aside money for saving, paid your expenses and treated yourself (below your max treat of course) save the rest.