Building Savings as a Student

Okay.

I’m sick of watching all of those money-saving life-hack videos that advise giving up Starbucks, because you don’t need that five dollar latte. Lies. First of all, I do need it. Second, my iced coffee is $3.10 with free refills, so I make it work. 😉

Here are my tips for saving money as a student, while still affording extras like Starbucks and manicures — because financial independence should not be synonymous with restricting yourself from items you genuinely enjoy.

TIP #1 Check your Bank Account Daily.
On a daily basis, I check my balance on my phone. This quick and frequent access enables me to have a constant understanding of how much money I have saved, and how much is at my disposal. A habit like this also keeps me on top of whether or not I’ve paid my bills, whether I’ve received payments for work, and it keeps my credit card balance nice and low.

TIP #2 Establish Multiple Sources of Income
As a student, this can be more of a challenge. For me, some great sources of income as a university student were:
a) Teaching Assistant: I was lucky enough to work as a teaching assistant for an online course for more than two school years. The hourly wage was significantly higher than minimum wage ($22-$26/term), and since it was online, I was able to easily integrate this job into my schedule.
b) Don/Residence Assistant: I did this for my final two terms of university. While this job involves a lot of work (read: do not do it for the money – you need to genuinely love it, the compensation will be a perk). Here, I had free on-campus living accommodations, as well as a generously allotted meal-plan (Starbucks was included in this!!). Living on campus also was a time-saver, less time travelling to class == more time doing productive things.
c) What do you love? I like to work with kids. While I don’t see this in my long-term career trajectory, it’s something I noticed I was good at, and something I could help people with. This allowed for an additional $40 – $200 per week during school weeks. Not being bound to a supervisor also enabled flexibility, so I was never too overwhelmed.

TIP #3 Play the Market.
Play the stock market if that’s your game. Investments are good to have! Although, here I’m referring to the student housing market. Often, I lived on a term-by-term basis. Moving every 4 months allowed me to always get the cheapest rent available. I could negotiate for additional fees, like internet, to be included in the rent. And as a student, summer terms mean less students in town, therefore more empty rooms that tenants are looking to fill for a discounted price. One summer, I managed to get a room in a luxury student building that usually charges ~$730+ per month (plus utilities), for just $375 all-inclusive.

TIP #4 Budget with Cash.
I frequently use cash to pay for goods. This allows me to budget more carefully, as I leave my “digital” money out of sight and out of mind when shopping. It’s said that a country’s economy works in one of four ways: They’re rich and act rich, they’re poor and act poor, they’re poor and act rich, or they’re rich and act poor.

It’s always best to act poor, even when rich, and spend accordingly. This will make you more frugal when you don’t have to be, which results in more savings. Little efforts, like looking for sales on groceries and things you need, getting student discounts, selling gently used clothes and books, let you save more while also making accommodations in your budget for “fun” things, like that $3.10 coffee from Starbucks. 😉

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And those are some of the tips that helped me to build a savings account and repay student debt while still in university! Best of luck with your financial goals, everyone!

 

Soft.

it’s so soft and so delicate…

These are the words I use to describe that moment, which up until, I never believed I would be describing a moment as soft, but it is exactly how I felt sitting by the window in my university’s library, waiting for my electronics to charge before heading outside to read at a picnic table.

I was looking out, directly at the people whose bodies walked on the path outside, the older women talking on a bench together who were approached twice in the span of 10 minutes by people who I assume to be colleagues. It’s already been two months since I finished undergraduate courses forever, and yet I’m back here again, hidden within the masses and breathing deeply knowing that I’m free to float in and out with the tide. Unsuspecting. Soft. Malleable transience captured in the span of some slivers of time. The leaves seemed to sway up and down up and down in the breeze, glistening. A girl is sitting at the same counter as me, two seats down. But before she even opened her laptop, she cupped her chin in her hands and breathed in the same moment and view as me. We never shared any dialogue or even eye contact, yet we shared a moment, and as I sit sipping my coffee and watching the ups and downs of the leaves, it’s a pure interaction.

It happened, an amalgamation of stimuli, within which I could cherish a soft thursday morning — quietly relishing my gentle victory.

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