Budget Tips for Students

Graphics and Words by Caitlin Chuah

Starting college or university is one of the first steps into adulthood, which also means gaining control of your finances! Some students are given an allowance by their family, while others work, and some have both an allowance and job. Although having the freedom to spend on whatever you want, whenever you want may sound exciting (which it undoubtedly is!), if you do not learn how to handle your money correctly, it could lead to a lifetime of financial issues and misspending.

Below are some tips to ensure that you are set on the path of financial stability.

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Get a part-time job

The most obvious way to gain more capital is by getting a job. If you are sure that you can balance work and study, then securing a part-time job is an effective way of getting that dough. A few common jobs that students work as are: waiter/waitress, retail store assistant, tutor and more! Many universities also offer on-campus work opportunities. Although working a few hours a week may not seem like it rakes in much money, over time, you will have accumulated enough to set you ahead of many of your peers.

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Track your expenses

Bought a latte from Starbucks? Write it down. Went out for dinner with some friends? Write it down. Bought some movie tickets? Write it down.

By tracking your expenses, it gives you a ballpark of how much you spend each month and on what. This allows you to recognize spending patterns and make a change if needed. It also gives you the opportunity to check for any stolen money or accidental charges.


Cook your own meals

All those years of our parents nagging us to learn how to cook is finally going to make sense. Believe it or not, eating out and ordering in is much more expensive than cooking your own meals, especially if you’re studying abroad (don’t forget to include tips if you’re overseas). Food and drinks at restaurants and cafes are incredibly pricier, and if you take into consideration the conversion rate, a simple meal could cost you RM50 or more!

Instead, learn to shop for your own groceries and prepare your own meals. This will save you hundreds, if not thousands, in the long run.

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Differentiate between needs and wants

Understand that are some things you NEED to spend money on, such as food, rent, college/university expenses etcetera. Also recognize that there are some things you just WANT to spend money on, such as nights out with friends, travelling, clothes, shoes etcetera. Learn to differentiate between your wants and needs, then set a limit to the number of things you WANT to buy. This allows you to still treat yourself every now and then without going over your budget.

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Set a goal

Lastly, in order to effectively budget and save money, you need to set a goal. Note down how much you are spending and earning each month, then set a limit to how much you should spend and a target of how much you want to save each month. Then, you will need to be disciplined and stick to your budget. Think of all the things you want to purchase when you are financially stable. When you begin budgeting as a student, you will be able to afford many things much earlier on in life compared to your peers.

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If you have any questions or inquiries regarding your tertiary education, feel free to contact us. Our services include: education and career counselling, assistance in college/university applications, student visa application, arranging accommodation and more!

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