Sometimes, I want that shiny shoe from Kurt Geiger that I am convinced would make my feet look pretty and elevate my outfit. The sad reality of an average student is that like me, you have to think ‘that shoe is equivalent to my travel cost for four weeks!!’ Then, you try to convince yourself ‘but it’s a long term investment, I can wear it to interviews or networking events or special days at uni.’ But, you know deep down that you should not be buying any shoes anytime soon. So what do you do?
I have written the five ways that I have found to make these tricky dilemmas easier to navigate. These are on savings, income, spending, sacrifice and debt.
- Savings: Save First Spend Last
Yes, there is nothing wrong with rewarding your hard-work for cleaning your room or making five meals this week. However, you should only do this when it does not mean that you will spend the rest of the month living off toast and baked beans. My principle is simple, save first and spend last. In essence, save before you spend. Some people save a penny for every pound they spend. I have found that it works for me to set a savings target and if I have any money left over, I can afford to buy that nice top or wait two to three months to get it. Saving hard for what you want makes you cherish it even more. You can have different pots like in my favourite cartoon Princess and the Frog.
- Income: Money is meant for spending but…
Money is meant for spending only when you have earned it. I wrote a blog not too long ago encouraging students to seek the best jobs that pay more for your very valuable time. The principle still stands. You need to find a job that makes your lifestyle affordable.
- Know if it is worth it or Sacrifice it!
In the year 2020, will there will be a shortage of shoes? Nope! There wont be so that shoe can wait until you can afford something similar. Sacrifice is probably my biggest and hardest tip but as long as you can give up the Saturday night pizza or the extra cup of coffee that you buy on campus, you will be fine. Think in the scheme of things, is this really really and objectively worth my five or twenty or fifty pounds?
Its like the craze of the iPhone (sorry iPhone users), to me, it is not worth my money. £2000 for a MacBook when I get my work done and get the same grade as you? No thank you. Call me a cheap skate but I do not think that getting the latest iPhone is worth my money. I have friends who are able to buy the latest without a dent in their savings but I also know people who buy the latest iPhones worth their bank overdrafts!? Don’t be the latter because its not worth it. I am the proud owner of a phone that costs less than £200 and this my friends was a reward!
- Spending: Rewards and Budgeting Pies
As incredible as I have sounded so far, I have to confess, I am terrible at sticking to a budget. I like the feeling of financial freedom and being able to get a tub of Mackies ice cream from Sainsburys just because I feel like it. However, I know that the reality is that my income is a pie. Just a regular circular pie that does not change in size, it only gets refilled every month. When I eat out of it, the size of the pie does not increase, it reduces! So, understanding that I want this ice cream but I am going to have to work extra half hour for the cost is always at the back of my mind. Often times, it deters me from making stupid financial decisions.
Ask yourself ‘do I really need it? Can I afford it?’ If your answer is ‘no’ don’t buy it spend on it! If you really need it, ask yourself again ‘can afford it and can I get it cheaper elsewhere?’ So look around and find if you are paying the cheapest price possible before you spend.
So reward yourself with what you really want. There are needs and wants. There are also things that I called elevated wants. Those are wants that you have earned the right to get them.
- Run from The Debt Culture
My last tip is that you don’t ever get a loan. I know that desperate times call for desperate measures and you might think at the time that it is wise to get a loan to ease the financial burden. I say No! Do not be deceived by the deadly yet attractive cycle. If you can, do everything within your power to raise the money. Have a plan on how can raise it. Perhaps, you can get an overdraft or borrow from a friend but please make sure you think about how you will pay it back. Keep the loans for later in life when you are doing the big stuff like getting a house not to finance your social life!
Yes, I am that friend that has invested in a travel mug, rarely buys items that are not in the sale section and does not use an iPhone. Shocking, I know right! There is no point trying to keep up with social standards. When it comes to money, you need to think before you feel. If you have a limited means and work very hard for your money, there is nothing wrong with rewarding yourself but clothes wear and tear and I would like to think that the zeros stay in your bank account (unless there is a depression or something)!
Disclaimer: I expressly disclaim any liability for damages of any kind arising out of use, reference to or reliance on any information contained within this publication. I am not responsible for the pictures or diagrams presented in this publication and do not assume any responsibility for the accuracy or functioning of these. The pictures have been taken from Canva and I do not claim ownership of this. This blog is in no way an expression of my current job.