Everyone knows that being a student means living on a budget of next to nothing and praying that you have enough food to last you to the end of the month. I have had to learn quite a number of financial habits since moving away from home and it hasn’t been easy but it is well worth it. Here are some of the habits that I have adopted…
1. Expensive gifts
Expensive gifts are not necessary. People want gifts that have meaning rather than gifts that cost an arm and a leg. Buying a meaningful gift doesn’t mean buying an expensive gift. Get to know the recipient’s interests and favourite things and look out for sales. A friend of mine is a huge Celine Dion fan and when it was her birthday, I bought her Celine’s “Let’s Talk About Love” album at R35.99 at Musica. Despite the fact that she got many other (way more expensive) gifts than the one I bought, she raved about it the most.
2. Roundup ’99 prices
I have seen many students round prices down in the supermarket rather than rounding them up. For instance if an item costs R4.99 they will pass it off as R4.00 when it is in actual fact much closer to R5.00. Round ’99 or ’95 prices up to the nearest Rand so that you will know how much you are actually spending.
3. New (misleading) packaging
Every now and then brands will change the packaging of a certain item to make it look more attractive, but many times the new packaging is a win-lose deal where the brand wins and we lose. A certain body lotion that I was using changed their packaging and I noticed that the new packaging made provision for way less of the contents than the previous packaging did. Look out for these as they might result in you having to buy a product twice where you were used to buying it once at the same price.
4. Fine print
Terms and conditions are always written in fine print because brands want us to buy with ignorance. Ignorance is expensive. Be sure that you know what you are paying for and what the terms are that go along with it. You don’t want to get to the till and realise that you have to pay more than what you intended.
5. Cellphone calls
Phone calls are great but they are not always essential. The same goes with text messages. Rather use applications such as BBM and WhatsApp that allow you to communicate at much cheaper rates than phone calls and SMS messages.
6. Shopping lists
This one is a bit cliché but it is also a very true way of saving. Making a grocery list before heading out to the supermarket will ensure that you buy exactly what you need to buy. It will also allow you to estimate how much you’re going to spend. It is always a competition for me. I estimate how much I’m going to spend and if I spend less than that, I buy myself a treat.
7. (Too) low prices
If something seems too cheap, it probably is. Chasing the cheapest price is not the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is getting value for your money. Rather buy an item of good quality once than buying a cheap item you will have to replace multiple times.
Despite the fact that learning new habits is difficult, sometimes it is well worth it. What are some of your money saving tips?