9 Practical Tips for Saving Money as a student

August 17, 2023

9 Practical Tips for Saving Money as a student

Are you tired of constantly feeling like your wallet is being drained? It’s not like you’re making any big expenses. You constantly feel like you should save money but at the same time, live your life in 20s. Yeah, same. 😟

Well, fear not, because a full-time international student in Amsterdam is here to share nine pieces of advice that she wished she knew sooner for saving money:

Tip 1: Bring Your Own Coffee

bring your own coffee

As someone who used to buy coffee every day, I can tell you that this is one of the easiest ways to save money. It might sound cliche and like you’ve heard about it a million times but the math checks out. Instead of spending $5 or more on a cup of coffee every morning, make your own at home and bring it with you in a travel mug or thermos. Not only will this save you money, but it will also save you time since you won't have to wait in line at the cafe. It might not be that big of a deal if you’re already working full-time but as a student, it really does make a difference.

Tip 2: Bring Your Own Meals

I know I struggled with this one. I’m not a great cook, and as an international student, I used to look for cheap alternatives to cooking — but guess what. There is no cheaper alternative. Cooking your own meals is not only healthier than eating out, but it's also the best budget option.

You could also meal-prep. Buy groceries for a week’s worth of meals, and think of a few recipes you want to eat next. By planning your meals in advance and buying groceries in bulk, you can save a significant amount of money on food each month. Plus, cooking at home can be a fun and rewarding experience! I certainly grew into my cooking abilities without making myself (and whoever was eating with me) sick. I am now well-versed in the wide world of spices, techniques, and methods for home-cooked meals.

Tip 3: Use Coupons and Discount Codes

I feel like a granny when I share this advice – but seriously don't underestimate the power of a good coupon or discount code! Before you make any online purchases or go shopping in-store, do a quick search for any coupons or discount codes that might be available. You'd be surprised at how much money you can save by simply using a code or coupon at checkout.

If you’re lazy like me though, there are also online tools that find online coupons or discount codes for you, like Honey (joinhoney.com) or Shopper (shopperdiscountsandrewards.co.uk).

Tip 4: Buy Generic Brands

When it comes to groceries and household items, don't be afraid to buy generic brands. In most cases, the generic brand is just as good as the name brand but costs significantly less. Give it a try and see if you can tell the difference (I know I couldn’t). The thing is, unless you’re Monica Geller, you know you need to clean but you’re not very excited about it. 

My point is that, if you’re looking for expensive 12-in-1 products that do a bunch of magical, chemistry-altering things to the surfaces they’re supposed to clean… don’t. Generic brands, the cheap bottom-row products work just fine. They’re made out of similar, if not the same ingredients anyway. The fancy packaging and ads — that’s just good marketing. They do the same thing. 

Same goes to generic base food products like rice and pasta. Unless you’re making your own pasta, you can’t tell the difference in taste. You can only really tell the difference when it comes to fresh ingredients, meats, cheeses, and similar.

Tip 5: Cancel or Share Subscriptions

Forgot to cancel a subscription and now it's draining your account silently? Guilty 🙋♀️ I think I still have a Prime Video subscription, even though I stopped viewing the stuff on there ever since The Wheel of Time got released. Is it still a thing? Anyway.

Cancel or share these subscriptions

Are you paying for a subscription that you don't use? Whether it's a streaming service, a gym membership, or a magazine subscription – if you're not using it, cancel it! You'll be surprised at how much money you can save each month by simply cutting out subscriptions you don't need. I know Netflix has sentimental value but, truth be told, it’s kinda been giving us low-quality movies and TV shows for a while now. And let’s not get into the drama with shared accounts. 

But, speaking of shared accounts, maybe think about sharing one such subscription with your friends, family, roommates, or even your partner. It does take less out of your pocket this way. You can even set up a Cino group for these subscriptions and pay fraction of the costs without having to send money back-and-forth.

Tip 6: Use Energy-Saving Practices

The energy crisis really said hey sisters! No matter where you’re reading this from, you must have heard/experienced raised energy costs, and if we’re honest, raised everything costs. But, regarding especially energy and utilities, we should all be more conscious about our habits.

Turning off lights when you leave a room and unplugging electronics when they're not in use, can help you save money on your electricity bill. Because — who are you leaving the lights on for? The dust? And who’s gonna use those electronics after you’re done with them? 

Plus, it's good for the environment! In 2023, we’re striving to be more environmentally friendly. We’ve only got one planet, folks, let’s try to not kill it by the time our children, or our children’s children, will live on it.

Tip 7: Use a Money-Saving App like Cino

Finally, one of the best ways to save money on your daily expenses is by using a financial app that will help you improve your budgeting, will allow you to track expenses, set a monthly limit, and share costs while being smart about your financials. Introducing: Splitwise!

As if. No, I’ve got a better alternative. Cino is a free app that helps you save money on everyday purchases by instantly splitting the bill with your friends, partner, or roommates. Whether you're shopping for groceries, household items, or anything in between, Cino has got you covered. You can instantly charge your roommates cards for their share of these costs so you don’t end up paying for everything with your own money. You can also change the split ratio anytime you like — so that you and your company can pay equally, proportionally, or any way you want. You can learn more about what Cino is and how to use it from this blog post.

Tip 8: Split the bill 

Split bills and pay together

Maybe you’re the kind of person that likes to go out, but the money’s kinda running out. Just go out with your friends like normal, but split the bill so that everyone pays their share. That's just mindful money management and honestly, no one will mind. Same goes with staying inhouse like hosting a party at your place — but everyone brings their own food/drinks. There’s nothing wrong with going Dutch when you have to decide between not eating next week. 

Tip 9: Avoid impulse purchases. 

I used to be a sucker for impulse purchases. If I saw something I liked, I would buy it without thinking about whether or not I actually needed it. Now, I try to be more mindful of my spending and ask myself if I really need the item before I buy it. I even started calculating the cost per use to evaluate if it’s a smart option or not. Cost per use is basically a calculation to decide how much something like a jacket that I can wear daily costs me in the long run.  Another sure-fire way to avoid impulse buying is never go grocery shopping when you are hungry – yikes. 

Take control of your own financials and share expenses where you can.

In conclusion, saving money on your daily expenses doesn't have to be difficult. By implementing these practical tips, you can start living more secure financial life today. And, if you really want to take your savings to the next level, download Cino and start using it for all your budgeting needs!

Take this seriously as you’re on your own now and you’re responsible for it all. Only few things are worse than the psychological pressure we put on ourselves in the end of the month when cash is running low. Being smart about your finances allows you to live more and worry less.

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