Although the title specifies that the following methods to prevent overspending apply only to students, I actually believe that anyone can make use of the incoming advice. It’s just that it’s all coming from a student’s perspective, with a low allowance and who has only dealt with savings accounts her whole life. I’ve never even used a credit card although people my age or even younger already started to do so. Therefore, the advice might be limited… (and probably too extreme if you are earning a monthly full-time job salary) but it’s still worth a read 😉
And here we go:
1. Record your transactions.
The first thing that my father told me before he left me to be on my own in Malaysia was to note down my expenses thoroughly in a notebook. To sit down every night and put everything in ink. Then, review the total amount of money spent at the end of each week and compare it to the already set budget that my parents had advised me to keep.
I believe this is a great way to control keep track of what you spend on and how much you spend. I did do it… for a semester. Unfortunately it does require quite a lot of effort and often I would just forget.
That’s why I switched to a money-tracking mobile app instead. I’m always on my phone anyway, ain’t I?
Nevertheless, whether you take on the traditional way or the digital way of recording your finances, you are good to go!
2. Have a budget and stick to it!
Another classic! But it is always good to remind ourselves of the obvious, because that’s what we most likely tend to overlook.
This is to be done in conjunction with the first point. You can make one overall daily/weekly/monthly budget or make smaller goal-oriented ones, for instance having a budget for ‘entertainment’ separated from your ‘basic necessities’ budget. You can even build a ‘travel’ budget!
3. Don’t withdraw money until your wallet is completely empty.
This one’s a personal trick of mine. Whether you tend to withdraw a sum that will last you a whole week or more or withdraw a smaller amount (which can be another effective way to spend less, but it really depends on your self-control), it has become a habit for me to use up all the money in my wallet, to the very last cent, until I hit the ATM again.
Sometimes, I would only be left with RM5 yet, since it is enough for a light dinner and if there are no plans to go out, I would simply make use of it in the most efficient way (in food, because that’s usually where all my money goes haha) and wait for the next day to fill up my wallet. This cancels out any expensive temptation I could have when presented with a wide array of food.
4. Don’t swipe your debit card unless it is an emergency.
Nope, don’t. If you need to buy something which will cost more than what you usually spend and feel it is a necessary item, have the appropriate amount of money on you. However, if the cost is too much to be physically transferred to your wallet, then by all means, use your card.
Most importantly, if you absolutely have to use your card, use it in trusted places, such as your locally recognized supermarket or bookstore.
In fact, I have read many stories reporting cases where people have used their credit/debit cards in various places, such as gas stations, where their information was eventually stolen and all their money was lost. Indeed, you can never know. Besides, the less you swipe, the less likely you will get used to it, which will minimize your risks.
Instead, get used to dealing with cash. Make it a more natural thing than taking out your debit card.
5. Opt for generic brands.
Starbucks coffee every day? NOPE. Frankly, Starbucks is overpriced for students and to be reserved only for special occasions. Why not try other coffee shops or brands or make your own.
Moreover, if you are the kind to have no preferences in branded products or if you are not a victim of sensitive skin or fragile health, you can definitely give generic products a try, from your local supermarket to your local pharmacy.
For example, I had to buy a travel-size shower gel for a short trip and just opted for a cheap small bottle made by the related pharmacy itself… and it is actually a natural eco-friendly solution that smells really good! No regrets!
6. Don’t spend on additional (a.k.a. unnecessary) clothes.
This could seem extreme but if you are a student, believe me, people will NOT care about what you wear to the campus, unless you surround yourselves with the wrong crowd (which is not a financial problem, but a problem nonetheless that you should be taking care of).
Besides, it is best to have a small wardrobe which consists of versatile clothing items that can be used and reused as several outfits. It further does make you more creative and reduces your laundry.
Personally, I literally avoid buying clothes unless it is absolutely necessary as, being an international student, I know that at the end of my course I will have to leave most of them here while packing up to go back to my home country… or wherever I will have to go to live my life. So I think more than twice before buying an item.
And that’s all!
From student to student, do spend your allowance wisely and make the most out of your university experience! 🙂
An Evil Nymph.