I exchanged the always warm and cosy house of my parents for a teeny-tiny room in Amsterdam only a few months ago. Since then, many things in my life have changed: socially, study-wise but also financially. I used to work at a bakery and I could spend the money I earned there on fun things such as cinema-visits, new clothes and other things. I can still do this - but modestly and in consideration. Also, the biggest part of my budget is spent on food. I did struggle with this in the beginning, but I've become a lot better at handling my money over the past few months. I thought it'd be nice to share a list of things that might help some of you: whether it is at this point in your life, in the future - it might even help you when you're not a student (anymore).
1. Consider reduced items
I wasn't like this in the past (shame on me) but extreme price reductions can make me really happy now (honestly). When the prices of items that won't spoil are reduced (e.g. detergent, toothpaste), buy them in bulk - in this way you'll always have cheap products in stock.
2. Take a look at cheaper brands
A great example that illustrates the extreme difference in prices: mozzarella. You can buy many types of mozzarella and the most expensive (best-looking) type costs about two euros. If you look a bit lower on the shelves, where the least popular brands are, you'll find a similar package, now for only about 1/4th of the price. Instead of just one roll of expensive mozzarella, you can buy four cheaper ones.
3. Second-hand stuff
IKEA is a lot of fun to visit and it's also very cheap, but it won't be as cheap if you have to invest in a closet, a bed, a desk and four chairs all at once. Visit some more second-hand shops and you'll find that tables of great quality sometimes are even cheaper than they are at IKEA.
4. Collect and save your change
I have a little change-jar in my room, and I always put coins and banknotes I find in my wallet in there. In this way I unconsciously save money I'd usually spend without noticing. This saves me around 20 euros a month I can use on grocery shopping!
5. Visit a food market
I personally live very close to a food market and compared to a regular supermarket, vegetables and fruits are very cheap there. I don't tend to eat many exotic fruits during the winter (apples and pears it is), but during the summer months I noticed that watermelons, blueberries and raspberries were a lot cheaper there.
6. Invest in the machine
This is going to sound a bit contradictory. I drink many juices and smoothies and these can be very expensive at supermarkets and juice bars: 5 euros isn't an odd price for a decent drink. I want to drink at least one healthy juice a day and if I buy 30 of these a month, I'd spend 150 euros (!!!) a month on just juice. That's why I decided to treat myself to a juicer - I wouldn't have to spend so much on fresh juices anymore. The juicer allows me to juice almost every kind of fruit and vegetable you can think of and I noticed that when I have some fresh goods left (think of apples, carrots et cetera!) I always throw them in the juicer. I don't buy expensive juices anymore and I also don't waste food! It's quite a big investment but over time, it will save you a lot of money.
7. Ask for leftovers
I spend a weekend at my parents' house every two weeks. I always try to take some leftovers home (and sometimes my mother even makes an extra plate of lasagna, my favorite, just for me). In this way I don't have to shop for or think about a few meals, and this also saves me some money. If you're visiting family or friends and notice that they're throwing away food, let the inner student come out and ask for a doggybag. #noshame
8. About flowers
I really love having a vase filled with fresh flowers in my room, but there's a downside to this: flowers can be very expensive. That's why I usually buy dried flowers these days: chalk plant is a beautiful example of this. In this way you will have your vase filled with flowers that'll make your room cozier, but you won't have to spend a few euros a week on roses...
9. Use op (beauty) products
New body lotions, scents and nail polishes can make me genuinely happy. I used to spend a lot of money on this, resulting in drawers filled with (usually unopened) products. Such a waste! To prevent this from happening you can decide to use up your products before buying new ones.
10. Think before buying
This sounds like an extremely useless tip but doing this really helps me save some money. Do I really need that notebook? Can't I drink that cup of tea at home? Do I really need that new lotion?
And now some tips to earn money, instead of save money..
1. Help science
Universities are always looking for people who can fill in some surveys and complete some tests. This usually won't result in a huge pile of money but if you look carefully you'll find that there's a big market for this: you might find something you want to spend your time on. A girl once told me that she participated in a study on yoga and its effect on the human body. She was paid to do yoga - that's the dream!
2. Dive into your closet
You might find some items you personally don't really love anymore but that doesn't mean they won't make others happy. Depop is a online marketplace-app for that.
3. Look for a work-at-home job
Combining university with a job can be quite stressful: schedules change and you also have to spend a lot of time on other things. Flexible work-at-home jobs can be a perfect solution. What I do:
- transcribing. Transcribing is making a written copy of a spoken excerpt. You can make a lot of money doing this, but the fact that you have to push yourself to do it can be quite confronting.
- blogging. I sometimes earn a bit of money with this but it isn't exactly a jackpot for me. I don't want it to be this either: I want blogging to be a fun thing! However, if you do want to transform your blog into a successful 'business', you'll need a lot of perseverance, inspiration and time.
4. Rent out your belongings
I personally have never done this before but I've heard positive things about this. There are websites that allow you to rent out your belongings for a day, in exchange for money. Think of cameras, tents, cars, et cetera. www.rentsy.nl is a Dutch website for this, but I'm sure there will be plenty alternatives in your country.
5. Make things you can sell
Do you like to draw, are you good with Photoshop, are you a talented photographer? Start an Etsy-shop and sell your creations! It will take some effort to make this successful but if you like it and you're good at it, you will make turnover in the future.
Money is an annoying something, unless you have it. I hope these tips will help you.