9 Realistic Things Students And Recent Graduates Can Do To Save Money
Saving money when you’re young is tough, especially with student debt and the struggle to get a grad job.
You probably find you’re mostly focused on getting by and not maxing out your overdraft, rather than actually putting money aside that can be used later for the deposit on a house or even put into your pension, for example. If you are looking to try to save more and get organised for the future, but the thought of ever having a mortgage seems impossibly far off, there are some things you can do each day to help.
In order to find out more about budgeting, one Reddit user asked: “Millenial who wants to be able to retire before I’m 75 here – what are the best money-saving habits I can adopt right now?”
Here are some of the tips that users responded with.
1. Learn to cook.
If you can work out a few simple recipes so you’re relying less on takeaways and meals out, you’ll save more money than you realise. The more you practise, the better you’ll get. You can also start shopping in the reduced sections of supermarkets as much as possible and then coming up with a meal from what you find there. One Reddit user comments “Don’t freak yourself out about cooking because you think you are going to fail. Everything you make doesn’t have to be amazing.”
2. And carry a refillable water bottle around with you.
You’ll save a lot of money you would’ve otherwise spent on bottled water and other drinks. Water isn’t super fun, but there are also massive health benefits to drinking it, so if you can learn to love it that’s ideal.
3. Try to stop caring about what other people think.
Don’t feel the need to keep up with other people’s spending, especially people who are older or earning more than you are. So if you’re only wanting to buy something new or go to the pub every night because everyone around you is, and you want to fit in with them, try not to worry so much about that – it could be costing you a lot of money.
4. Ask yourself “how much of my life does this item cost?”
You definitely don’t need to do this all the time, but it can be useful to think about every so often so you understand what the money you’re spending means. One Reddit user suggests: “Before you buy something, calculate how long it takes you to earn the amount it costs and think hard about whether it’s really worth it.”
5. Keep track of every pound that comes in and goes out of your life…
I know. So boring and possibly kinda time consuming…? But one of the pieces of advice that came up repeatedly was simple: make sure you know how and when you spend your money. One Reddit user comments: “Waste [your money] if you like, but only on fun things that you know about. Don’t just accidentally get into debt.”
6. But set money aside for impulse buys if you can.
Some commenters advise that you decide on an allowance for yourself each week that can be spent on whatever you like – a couple of items of clothing, coffee and a bagel every morning, or you can spend it all on one night out at the weekend. This way you still get to have fun, but keep the money that you spend on nights out within your means.
7. Consider making some relatively safe investments.
This was definitely one of the more contentious suggestions being discussed, so be careful. A financial adviser writes: “investing isn’t for everyone, but if you have money saved up that you won’t need for months to years, you’re honestly losing money by keeping it in cash or a bank account.” He suggests you “check out some safe ideas like CDs.” Another user adds: “there is no easy get rich quick scheme. If you are investing with others, be conservative… boring is safer.”
8. Help each other, or learn new skills in your free time.
One Reddit user talks about how, “by happy mistake”, their best friends include a plumber, software engineer and a contractor. If you can help your friend out with one thing and they can help you out with another, rather than paying someone else to do it, that’s great. Try to learn a bit more about DIY and other useful life skills so you’re more self-sufficient.
9. Most importantly, remember that the ultimate goal is your happiness.
Some of these tips might not work for everyone and what you want to do budgeting-wise really depends on what’s important to you and what you’re financially in the position to do. Do you want to live as well as you possibly can right now, but potentially have to work for longer or buy a house later? Or would you rather make a lot of cut backs while you’re young so you can retire earlier? Either way, if you’re looking to save money, remember that doing so hopefully doesn’t have to involve you being miserable and that you can start by making small changes.
As one Reddit user writes: “Plan for the future, but don’t sacrifice the present.”