As a college student, having a semblance of financial stability can prove to be challenging, especially with so many temptations surrounding you while living on a shoestring budget. How can you afford to pay for a Starbucks venti latte or the latest pair of adidas NMD sneakers?
We understand that money management can be such a dull affair, but it is possible to get a headstart on saving for your future even before you step foot in the workforce.
Here are our top 10 hacks on how you can save more and stretch your ringgit where it matters the most.
#1. Save your loose change
One of the easiest ways to start saving money is to put aside your spare change in a jar and not touch it until the end of the year. The great thing about saving loose coins is that it doesn’t feel like you’re sacrificing a lot compared to putting away RM10 notes. It may not seem like much initially, but as the old Malay saying goes, “sedikit-sedikit, lama-lama menjadi bukit.”
You can even make it a game to collect special coins, such as saving only 5 sen coins or the large 50 sen coins that have a wau on it. Who knows, these old coins may one day fetch a high price from a collector!
#2. Give #Project5 a go
Every time you encounter a RM5 note, save it! You will unknowingly accumulate a mountain of these green notes over the span of a year.
Alternatively, you can also choose another denomination, such as RM1, RM10 or RM20, and save those instead, depending on what is practical for you. While you might have to exercise a bit of restraint to avoid spending the money, you’ll be amazed at how much you can save in a year.
#3. Try the 52-week money challenge
If you’re up for a year-long challenge, then the 52-week money challenge will give you the push you need to save some extra moolah!
Here’s how it works: you start the challenge by saving RM1 in Week 1, RM2 in Week 2, RM3 in Week 3, and so on. Over the course of 1 year, you would save a total of RM1,378!
#4. Check out the local entertainment scene
If you can’t give up on entertainment such as weekly movies, shopping sprees or parties, opt for cheaper alternatives instead.
Scour lifestyle portals and newspapers for free or cheap events in your neighbourhood, such as indie theatre productions, flea markets and bazaars, art exhibitions and talks in and around the country — you just need to know where to look!
After all, cheap entertainment doesn’t mean sacrificing quality, and you may come to appreciate the local art scene more too.
#5. Exchange your plastics for cash
Yep, we’re talking about recycling!
Make it a habit to collect your family’s recyclable goods (e.g. plastic containers, old newspapers and magazines, glass bottles, etc.) and take them to a recycling centre for some extra moolah. You could also approach your neighbours for their recyclable goods too to earn a higher income.
That way, you’re not only helping the environment, but you’ll be getting paid for your efforts too!
#6. Consider joint subscription accounts for your entertainment needs
Saving money doesn’t mean foregoing all forms of entertainment.
Instead, rack up a few pals and choose “family plans” for subscriptions such as Spotify and Netflix, then split the costs between yourselves. It works out to be cheaper compared to everyone having their own subscription account.
#7. Opt for economy rice
Buy chap fan or nasi campur from your nearby coffee shop or mamak to save money on meals, instead of paying double the amount at a restaurant or cafe. Not only is it fulfilling to the tummy, it’s literally economical as well.
Depending on what you heap onto your plate, it’s possible for you to spend RM5 on a full meal, especially if you choose to go vegetarian. Not only that, you’ll be definitely spoiled for choice with a motley of meat and vegetables cooked in different styles for you to choose from. Just remember to make it a balanced meal!
#8. Fully utilise your student ID
One of the perks of being a student is to be able to flash your student ID for student discounts are selected clothing retail stores, entertainment joints and even eateries. You can score cheap deals from places such as Forever 21, Cotton On, Factorie, TGV and GSC cinemas, the National Museum, and restaurants like Bar B Q Plaze, Tony Roma’s and Kenny Rogers.
You may not think that 10% off your total bill is a lot, but over time, you’ll come to notice that these small amounts can translate to big savings, especially if you eat out often.
#9. Set up automated transfers into your savings account each month
Most banks in Malaysia have an online service that allows you to set up automatic transfers from one account to another. This is useful if you have a habit of swiping your card every time you go out.
Consider setting up automated transfers from your main account into a designated savings account at a fixed date each month as it can greatly reduce your expenditure. It can be really gratifying to see your savings build up each month.
#10. Have a ‘no-spend challenge’ once a week
Challenge yourself to see how many days you can go without spending a single sen. This means eating what you have in your pantry and fridge, walking or hitching a ride with friends instead of driving and avoiding impulse spending on items you don’t need.
If that sounds too extreme, opt to have a no-spend day each week instead, and save money on food by prepping all your meals from home and avoid spending money at all costs, even if it’s something as small as a snack in between classes.
Money can be a fickle friend, but you don’t always have to resort to drastic measures to grow your savings. Instead, by applying the suggestions above each day, you’d be amazed at how much you can save!
Remember, a penny saved is a penny earned!