When you are living from paycheck to paycheck in graduate school, it is time to change your spending habits around.
When you are dreaming of saving for the downpayment of a house, or a new car – again, it’s time to start pinching pennies and make your little graduate school paycheck go far.
In this post, I give you 25 ideas on how to get started with saving money on your regular expenses.
1. Check out the weekly sales of the supermarkets. Just go online and look at what’s on sale in the grocery store this week. At times, I can get up to 10% off my total purchases, just by planning my meals around the products that are on sale.
2. Bike to campus. If you live within 10km of campus, you should leave your car in the garage and bike to campus. Not only will you save a lot on gas, it’s also healthy and it kickstarts your brain for the day.
3. Ditch the meat every now and then. Your body doesn’t need a big piece of meat every day. You can make rice with vegetables, or a pasta with a nice sauce, without needing to spend on meat.
4. Save the juice. Turn of the lights in all the rooms at home, except for the room where you are at that given moment.
5. Happy thrifting! You can save tons of money by buying clothes, furniture, decorations,… in thrift stores. Moreover, you are reusing items that otherwise would be thrashed – so it’s an eco-friendly choice too.
6. Share a house. Even though you’re in your mid or late twenties as a PhD student, try to cut down on rent by sharing a house with roommates. Just look for other PhD students – you don’t have the lifestyle to live with undergrads anymore.
7. Grow your own herbs. Buying a full pot of basil is only double the price of buying fresh basil, but with one plant you are good for many months (just give the basil some light and water).
8. Bring your own meals. Bring your meals to campus, and bring some snacks as well. Buying from the cafetaria/food court and from vending machines is not a smart choice. Moreover, if you bring your meals, you have better control over what you actually eat, and how good that is for your body.
9. Shop for presents online. You can find great gifts at online gadget stores, or on Etsy, where lovely handmade craftworks are sold at good prices.
10. Only spend on given days. All other days, or spending-free days. I, for example, typically only spend on Tuesdays for groceries and (sometimes) Saturdays.
11. Use soap and shampoo bars. Bars of soap and shampoo last much longer than bottles, as you have to make them foam yourself, instead of just squeezing a bottle and using too much product.
12. DIY beauty. See what you can do at home, and what needs to be done by a professional. For example, I cut and dye my hair myself, but I do go once a month to a nailstylist.
13. Online deals. If you plan a weekend getaway, or a massage – check out online deals websites for a great discount.
14. Buy in bulk. Often, buying in bulk gives you a great discount. For deodorant and toothpaste, there are regularly buy 2, get 2 for free actions – that’s the moment to buy these items.
15. Vegetables in bulk. You can save by buying large packages of the same vegetable. Just chop them up and keep them in the freezer – they last up to 6 months in there.
16. Library card. Get yourself a library card if you like reading books. Don’t buy every single book that you’d like to read.
17. Repair your stuff. Try to repair your electronics when they give up on you. Learn how to sew your clothes back together.
18. Get a water filter. And just stop buying bottled water – it’s expensive and not eco-friendly.
19. Invest in quality. Buy shoes that last many seasons, and electric appliances that won’t die after using them a few times.
20. Ask yourself: “Do I really need this?”. Before you buy something for yourself, stop for a moment and consider if your really need this in your life. If you don’t, then don’t drag something new into your house.
21. Don’t buy a dryer. Just dry your clothes on a drying rack or outside on a clothesline. You save on electricity.
22. Smart investments. If you have something valuable, protect it. Use a surge protector for your electronics and a solid lock on your bike.
23. Keep an eye on when advantages end. You might be enjoying a certain discount for a certain number of months, and afterwards the company will charge you the full amount. I recently got a 150 euro phone bill, because my phone company put me on the biggest plan, for the smallest fee for a given number of months. I didn’t keep track of the months, and then got charged the full amount.
24. Wear hand-me-downs. You can trade clothes that you don’t like that much with friends and family, and get something new for free.
25. Read personal finance blogs. They contain tons of great information on saving money.
What do you do for keeping your little expenses under control?