Managing a student budget is challenging in its own ways. One of the main challenges being the uncertain and unstable nature of student life and work. Given that we are in the midst of a pandemic, this nature is only worsened by other factors. However, there are strategies you can use to adjust to the uncertainty of the pandemic.
Tip #1: Kill Off Bigger Expenses Where Possible
One of the best tips for saving money as a student during this pandemic is to consider two of your biggest expenses—rent and transportation. If you are able to commit to Zoom classes while living with your parents, it saves you on rent.
On the other hand, public transportation costs are typically included in your tuition fees. Due to course delivery being online, all students are eligible to opt out of the U Pass for the Fall semester in 2020.
In this way, you can eliminate unnecessary expenses while attending classes online.
Tip #2: Use A Money Managing App
Tried and true budgeting spreadsheets are great to use, but it’s always good to have a backup resource to track and grow your finances. Given the uncertain conditions we are all in, your typical budget planning may change in unexpected ways.
Using a money managing app can help you automate certain processes like budget categories and monthly spending reports. Other than that, you can set yourself up for success if you categorize your schooling expenses by term on an app. This will ensure you have enough wiggle room to adjust your budget without overspending.
Check out our recommendations for 4 budget tracking apps for students and new graduates.
Tip #3: Create An Emergency Fund
If you are new to managing your personal finances independently, you will want to prioritize saving an emergency fund. First, you need to identify your monthly income and clearly locate your primary expenses for housing, groceries, bills, subscriptions, etc. If you do not want to go through the hassle of this first step, using a money managing app, as mentioned earlier, can speed up and automate the process for you.
Remember, this is your emergency budget not your monthly budget so be as brutal as possible when narrowing down your necessities. Once you have done so, you will have an emergency budget to fall back on. Due to the economic instability we are experiencing, this type of fund is even more so necessary.
Tip #4: Plan Your Meals and Save On Groceries Where Possible
In a typical student day, it can be challenging to plan and manage your food intake and ensure your nutritional needs are met. As a student in a pandemic, however, factors such as physical location and food accessibility can be easily sorted.
Since it is likely that you are not moving as much as you usually might on a university campus, you have closer proximity to your kitchen. Due to this, you are also in the position to make the most out of your groceries. Make a strategic plan for your weekly groceries, considering your online class schedule. You can then determine what types of meals work best for you. Before food shopping, make a weekly list of items to ensure that you are covered for the week. This can help avoid you ordering in and wasting your groceries, or even worse, skipping meals in the midst of the busy school term.
Tip #5: Use TikTok™ Content To Your Advantage
I don’t know about you, but TikTok content has been getting me through this pandemic so far. TikTok accounts tend to be based on niches and you can find great bite-sized money content from other millennials and experts, too.
Here are some great TikTok accounts to check out:
- This 47-year old financial literacy teacher from Utah provides budgeting and saving content to students
- This millennial shares her money tips on saving and investing as a Canadian in your 20s
- This lawyer turned travel blogger shares freelance and remote work opportunities for students
- This TikTok foodie shares their love of simple, homemade meals to save money as a student
Note: Keep in mind that TikTok users are creating financial content to make it engaging and fun, but you still want to verify that they are certified finance planners.
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