Graduate Blog

How to Live on Less



It’s that time of year again when hundreds of thousands will head off to University and start the best time of their lives. Perhaps you’re one of them? Then the following advice will ensure you still have a few coppers left in your pocket, instead of finishing the year knee-deep in overdraft. Perhaps you’ve already graduated or University doesn’t interest you. It doesn’t matter. Either way, learning how to live on less money is a valuable life skill and one that will help you sail through even the hardest of financial times. I’ve decided to scour the internet for the best advice, here are the 10 best tips:

1) Avoid debt

Ok ok. It’s easier said that done, but the best way of saving money and consequently living on less is to avoid debt in the first place. If you’re a student, and even if you’re not, don’t sign on the dotted line for that credit card. Steer well clear of the things. Buying things with money you don’t have is a guaranteed way of making yourself poorer in years to come what with the hefty interest added and transaction fees.

2) Don’t spend what you don’t have

Yep. If you haven’t got it, don’t spend it. Sure, everyone else might seem to be having a great time around you, but chances are they’re also spending money they don’t have, and making it worse for themselves in the long run. A technique to overcome the urge to put every drink on plastic is to only carry cash. Take out a small amount from the ATM and you’ll know in the morning exactly how much you’ve spent, instead of terrifying yourself when you check your online banking statements in the morning.

3) Write a shopping list

A what?! Too many of us just don’t do this, but we would if we realised just how much money it would save us. It can be so easy to go into the supermarket and impulse buy every thing we think we need and then buy an irrational amount of magazines and chewing gum at the checkout. But refrain! Or better still, before you go shopping, figure out exactly what you need for the week ahead – those extra few minutes will save you heaps on money later on.

4) Turn the thermostat down

Winter is almost upon us – how did that happen?! – and it can be oh so easy to whack the thermostat up to 25 degrees. But hold yourself, how much is that costing you? There are simple ways you can stay warm without burning all of the North Seas gas reserve: put on a jumper, use an extra duvet or simply turn the thermostat down by a few degrees.

5) Do free things

You really don’t have to entertain yourself by eating and drinking out every night, going to the cinema and buying Gucci handbags (rather you than me, but hey). There are plenty of free activities on offer to keep yourself amused, especially if you live in or around a major city. Numerous art galleries and museums have become free to enter, or you could stick to the closer to home, get out a deck of cards or board game and play with your family and friends. You’ll be surprised how much you enjoy it.

6) Use the freezer

Freezers are a great cost-saving asset. Freezers mean you can buy loads of stuff which are on sale from the supermarket and keep it without it going off. Freezers mean you can plan ahead what you’re going to have for dinner. Freezers are also very, very cold.

7) Make a budget

Write yourself a budget for what you’re going to spend. Do it per day, per week, per month, and if it’s not too far to think ahead, per year. Split it up into the essentials in life: rent (or mortgage), food, utilities, entertainment. The list doesn’t have to be extravagant or be a full-time job in keeping it up-to-date, but having a good idea in mind of what’s going in and out of your bank account and how much you’re expecting to spend will go a good way to helping you to live on less.

8) Ditch the car

Quite frankly, if you want to live on less, ditch the car. Unless you absolutely need, need, need one public transport or walking will almost certainly work out cheaper. Insurance, MOTs, maintenance, petrol, the list goes on, sell your car and you’ll instantly find you’re living for less.

9) Cancel your gym membership

Going against all other advice on the internet but, well, being a member of a gym is expensive. Even if you’re a student, you’ll be lucky if you can find a gym that will cost you less than £20 a month. That’s £240 a year – that’s a lot of money to be saved. You can stay just as fit by pounding the pavements and doing push-ups at home. More or less.

10) Just be you

I thought I’d save the cheesy one till last, but an important way of living on less is just to remind yourself that you don’t have to keep on spending on money to make yourself feel fulfilled. Spending time with yourself, and enjoying it, or hanging out with friends and family, doesn’t cost you anything and is ultimately much more rewarding than continuously spending.

About the Author

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StudentVine is an invaluable source of student and graduate advice. Powered by GradQuiz, we aim to help prepare prospective, current and past students for every facet of university and graduate life. Originally designed as a sister site for GradQuiz in 2013, and partnered with The Independent, StudentVine strives to tackle the key issues facing students and graduates in their push to develop their lives and careers.

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