By Keaton Colt
Graduate school can be expensive, especially if you’re enrolling right after receiving your undergraduate degree. Being accepted into a program for stellar grades and an urge to increase your credibility within a certain job market is an achievement that should be nothing but celebrated. But when costs are constantly in the back of your mind, it can be hard to focus on what is really important— your dedication to education. Here are some budgeting hacks that every graduate student should take into consideration when living day-to-day life.
Develop a Money Management Strategy
Whether it’s using an app to help you budget or an excel sheet to track your expenses, developing a budget strategy can keep you organized and prevent you from spending too much. By writing down each monthly bill and the associated allocation for payments like your rent, loans, books and transportation, you will not only have access to a visual representation of them, but you might also find yourself more motivated to stick to your budgeting goals.
Consider a Mobile Banking Account
Because we’re in such a technological era, more and more graduate students are saying “yes!” to digital conveniences. When it comes to budgeting, a mobile bank account free of hidden fees can lessen your chances of breaking the bank. With money management resources right at your fingertips, you won’t have to worry about the additional expenses that come with using a debit card or maintaining your bank account.
This may seem like an “old-fashioned” way of receiving discounts, but when you’re trying to save as much as possible, using coupons can be a great asset to your budget. Whether it’s receiving them at your local grocery store from a cashier or finding them online, deducting a few dollars off of your grand total can save you more money than you would have anticipated. As an additional tip, look into signing up for a grocery store membership. Specific items may have a sale on certain days of the week, and with a loyalty card, you can receive that added bonus.
Be Smart When Buying Books
Unfortunately, the price of some textbooks can reach up to $400. As a graduate student, a book that expensive can’t fit into a strict budget. Look into renting your textbooks for a cheaper price. That way, you’re only paying for the amount of time you’re using it. If your required textbook is only available to buy, consider using it, taking good care of it and then reselling it online or to another student who may need it when they take the course.
Take Advantage Of Student Discounts
While attending grad school, it is imperative to use your student ID to your advantage. Many on- and off-campus activities give you a student discount if your college identification is shown. While you’re out and about, be sure to bring your card with you in case certain places offer this wonderful perk! If you happen to forget to bring your student ID somewhere, ask if they’ll take your email instead as proof of your enrollment.
Look For a Part-Time Job
If your schedule allows it, search for a part-time position on or off campus to make some additional money. While this might be necessary for some, having additional cash flow can make it possible for you to place extra funds into a savings account or to use towards paying off your student loans. As nice as it is to explore the local shops or go out to eat with friends every weekend, having a job is a great way to make more money to allocate towards your savings.
Don’t Abuse Your Credit Card(s)
Even though credits cards make it super easy to purchase something in the moment, the debt they can create is overwhelming. As a budget-friendly grad student, it is important to reduce or stop your credit card usage. The more money you owe to others, the more you’ll have to reimburse down the road, which could prevent you from building wealth and instead become a financial disaster. Instead, try using cash or a debit card more often to make purchases.
Of course, there will be times when you feel the need to spend money on things due to a fear of missing out or because it’s a necessity. The better you are about keeping your finances in the back of your mind, the more aware and responsible you’ll be when it comes to spending and saving.