8 Money-Saving Tips That All Grad Students Need To Know
When I resigned from my full-time job to go back to school, I knew my life was about to change pretty dramatically. Not only would my day-to-day routine be different, but the lifestyle I’d come to enjoy — boutique fitness classes, takeout cups of coffee, regular happy hours with friends — would no longer be affordable on my new budget.
Most people understand that graduate school requires a lot of hard work and determination. But as the cost of higher education continues to grow, it also requires students to become more and more thrifty, financially savvy, and frugal.
I've learned firsthand that the combination of expenses and academic stress can be difficult to manage, and while I refuse to give up caffeine or my precious fitness regime, I’ve started brewing coffee at home and running outside to cut down on otherwise expensive habits.
To help graduate students with their financial burden, Bustle partnered with Boost Mobile to talk with real grad students who've become veritable experts on saving money during this pricey endeavor.
Here are eight money-saving tips that all grad students should know.
1. Become A DIY-er
Learning how to fix things yourself (rather than paying someone else to do them) can save you some major cash. Plus, acquiring new skills like repairing a bike tire or sewing up small holes in clothing will also save you a trip to a professional — which means more time for studying (or, you know, anything else)!
2. Make Everything BYO
This may seem obvious, but meal-prepping ahead of time and packing your own lunches will save you from eating out and buying overpriced food in hungry, desperate moments. As for group gatherings, if you’re the one hosting, make it a potluck so you don’t get stuck fronting a huge expense.
3. Find A Better Phone Plan
Fun fact: You could probably save some extra money with a new phone plan. Switching mobile providers can have huge cost benefits, and bonus: it’s surprisingly simple to do. Boost Mobile — known for their affordable phone plans that include unlimited data, talk and text, and unlimited music streaming without data charges — makes it super easy to switch plans so you can start saving ASAP.
Pro-tip: Boost is currently offering an unlimited data, talk and text plan that's only $50/month, and you get a free LG Stylo™5 when you switch. Yup, you read that right.
4. Leverage Your Student ID
Repeat after me: “Do you offer a student discount?” Awesome. Now, prepare to use that phrase everywhere: At the box office, the supermarket, your favorite restaurant, and anywhere else you plan to spend money. Ten percent off may not seem like much, but it can really add up in the long run.
5. Ditch Subscription Services
Trust me, I know: This one hurts. Sure, that entertainment streaming service may seem like a necessity, but the truth is you’re probably spending a lot of money and time watching TV when you should really be focusing on your studies. Cancel as many recurring services as you can spare, then add them back in once you feel your budget can swing it.
6. Get A Part-Time Job With Major Perks
If your schedule allows it, getting a part-time job in an industry you would otherwise spend money in can have huge perks. I got a part-time job at a gym so I could take advantage of the free membership for employees and make some extra money in the process. You could also find a job at a grocery store to score major discounts on a recurring weekly expense, or apply at your campus bookstore location to cash in on their employee discount for your textbooks.
7. Learn To Say ‘No’
When it comes to big asks with daunting financial commitments like weddings and bachelorette parties, remember that although it’s nice to be there for friends, no one is entitled to a month’s worth of your rent (except, you know, your landlord). And while you may have to turn down events you'd love to attend, you can still find ways to show loved ones you care, like by sending a thoughtful card or personalized gift.
8. Cut Yourself Some Slack
This isn’t a money-saving tip, per se, but it deserves to be mentioned: Don’t beat yourself up for not being able to save a ton while you’re in school — and don’t write off developing a savings account just because you don’t have much to contribute. Stowing away any amount of money, even if it’s just $5 per week, can be helpful in the future. As corny as it sounds, an investment in school is an investment in your future, but so is any cash you're able to sock away.
This post is sponsored by Boost Mobile.