How to budget as a student

The student life is very expensive, our education costs a lot and if you’re (like me) living on your own or in a dorm: you’ll have a lot more bills and expenses to make. I don’t even know how many times I’ve looked at my back account confused because I can’t even remember where all of my money went. Budgeting is hard, but as a student so important to stay organised and to control your finances. I’ll share my personal tips, and yes, I am still learning.

Cook at home
As a student myself, I know how tempting it is to eat outside of your house. Long days at school, doing homework, try and stay fit and somehow manage all your social activities: it’s hard to find the motivation and inspiration to make your own meals. It may not seem like you’re spending a lot of money but if you’re going out to eat about three times a week and spend around (roughly) €10 per meal: it adds up to €120 a month which means €1.440 a year!! You’ll save so much money if you eat at home.

Go grocery shopping for the week
My personal experience with shopping a few times a week is that I buy unnecessary items. I might crave cookies, buy some grapes or anything else that I really don’t need. My personal tip is to plan your meals ahead for the week and go grocery shopping at the beginning of the week. Try and buy all the necessary groceries so you won’t be tempted in other grocery trips. Some ingredients might have to be fresh and can’t be bought a few days before. Just make a grocery list for those specific groceries and follow that list.

Stop buying the €5 coffee
Coffee from a coffeeshop somehow always tastes better. As mentioned in a previous blogpost, I love my coffee and I’m guilty of this habit. It is so tempting to quickly walk into a coffeeshop, buy a coffee and continue your day. Let’s say you buy the coffee twice a week, that’s €40 a month which means it’s €480 a year. Once again, it may not feel like you’re spending a lot of money, at least: I never realised that I was. I only realised it when I calculated it into the yearly expenses.

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Buy basic ingredients
So, when you’re about to do your grocery shopping for the week: try to buy some basic ingredients that are being used in a lot of recipes. For example: potatoes, tomatoes and peppers. I hardly ever cut up an entire pepper, so I’ll save the other half of the pepper for another day or decide to freeze the pepper.

Freeze your meals
Go ahead and cook bigger portions of food for your dinner and freeze a few portions to eat on another day! It’s so easy to get it out of the freezer, place it in the microwave and you’ll have your dinner ready in about five minutes without spending money on other groceries or going out to eat! I love this when I have late classes.

Save your receipts
Save all your receipts of your expenses for that week or the entire month. My personal preference is to save the receipts of that week, because keeping the receipts of an entire months get a bit messy in my house (or I lose some). The reason why I do this is because it helps me get an overview of all the expenses of that week and gives me a clear view on the bigger or smaller expenses that may have been unnecessary.

Get your cash for the week
I use my card a lot for the expenses, and it’s so easy to pay without sort-off realizing how much money you’re spending. I noticed that I’m a lot more aware of my expenses if I pay with cash. Something else I like to do is give myself a budget for the week. Let’s say I want to spend €50 a week on all my expenses including groceries for that week. The €50 cash is my budget for that week: if it’s gone, it’s gone and I’ll have to wait for the next week. (Unless it’s really important or urgent obviously!)

So these were some of my personal tips to budget as a student. As mentioned before, I am still learning and trying to find my own way into budgeting. Budgeting is different for everyone, but it’s nice to have some guidelines into the budgeting world because it can get quite challenging sometimes. Most of my tips are about cooking and buying your groceries, because that’s where most of mine bigger (unnecessary) expenses occur.

Please leave your budgeting tips in the comments!

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