Does it often seem as if being a university student requires taking an oath of poverty? Income is limited, and expenses – well, they’re not. Ever. But despite the financial imbalance that is an entrenched part of being a university student, you can learn how to avoid always being broke.
All you need to do is to change some habits and adjust some strategies.
Your Casual Spending Has Become Too Casual
If you are in the habit of spending $10 per day on who-knows-what, at the end of the month, you are spent $300 – but have nothing to show for it. Though it didn’t seem as if you’re spending much money on any given day, collectively it’s the equivalent of a car payment.
The alternative? Learn to enjoy being somewhere just for the fact of being there. You don’t have to come away with something. And if you can’t get control over that impulse, you may want to cut down on the number of places that you go.
Stop Lending To Friends Who Are Down On Their Luck
One of the realities that makes being broke less painful at university is knowing that most other students are in the same boat. At the same time, some students know how to use their impoverished status to get help here and there.
Related: Where Should You Cut Money?
You’ve probably noticed a pattern that some students are particularly good at this. They are in the lunch line, or at an eatery, and they suddenly need “a few bucks”. Or a holiday or birthday comes up, and they have no money to buy their grandmother (little sister, ailing aunt, fill in the blank) a gift. Or they need a few dollars to go to a concert. In each case they promise to pay you back “in a few days”.
In each case, they never do.
Be careful who you “lend” money to. If they don’t pay you back, it becomes another expense for you.
Cut Back On Entertainment
Everybody needs to blow off steam, and you have to be careful that you’re not over doing it. There’s a balance between entertainment and cost that has to be struck. If the need for entertainment usually wins, sooner or later you will run out of money. This is probably the single biggest reason why most students are always broke. There’s always yet one more event, and even though it may not cost much money by itself, when added to everything else you’re doing it turns into real money.
Try to focus more heavily on forms of entertainment that are either free or very low-cost. Usually hanging out with friends and getting a drink or a light snack, browsing around town or on campus, or hitting a free concert, won’t cost much money.
Find Less Expensive Friends
And speaking of friends, I’m sure you’ve noticed that some friends are more “expensive” than others. They are the type that have some of the bad habits listed above. They prefer activities that do cost money. Those are expensive friends.
It’s often said that you are the average of your five closest friends; you should think about that long and hard from a money standpoint. Do your friends tend to like spending money – dragging you along into similar spending patterns? Are they always pushing you to eat out or they are ok with cooking meals at home and play some boardgames?
If so, you might want to start hanging around with more frugal friends. It’s a trade-off, sure, but when money is tight, making trade-offs is what you do. That might mean trading a spendthrift friend for more frugal one.
If you do, you might begin to notice that you’re not always broken anymore.
Get A Job; Get A Better Job If The One You Have Isn’t Paying Enough
Walking around with no money in your pocket can be as stressful and disrupting as having a part-time job. The one advantage of a part-time job is that you will likely have money in your pocket most of the time.
If you need more spending money than you have, it may be time to get a job if you don’t already have one. And if you do have a job, but one that doesn’t pay particularly well, it might be time to trade up to a better job.
Yes, it may very well interfere with both your schoolwork in your social life. But having a job will not only help you avoid being broke, it can also force you to regiment your time better. For example, the fact that you’re working and earning money, also means that you will have less time that will need to be filled with entertainment, and the expense that comes with it.
How do you avoid being broke? Or do you just accept it as a fact of student life and make the best of it?