How To Start Managing Your Finances Well In University
I grew up thinking that money is not everything and as long as you are a good person, God will sustain you. Only after I had enrolled into university, I realized that though it is not exactly wrong, I was definitely raised in a privileged setting to have such a simplistic mindset.
There is a lot of psychology revolving around money that I was oblivious of. Thus, managing your finances is really, really important.
And the earlier, the better. So here are three tips on how to start managing your finances well in university.
1. The 50/30/20 budget
Obviously, budgeting is important, but I recommend this specifically because it’s the easiest to follow.
Amidst of you wanting to work hard, you will be tempted with that ‘laid back lifestyle’, of university students keep eating out, going to the movies, buying bubble tea on a worrying frequency, and random trips to the nearest tourist attractions.
Source: Mint Notion
If you do not set your budget in the very first place, do not be surprised with your balance at the end of the month. So, stick with this easy-to-follow formula, and you’ll be safe.
2. Automate savings and necessary expenses
Like I said, it’s easy to overlook your spending habits if you don’t budget at first, that when the end of the month comes, you would barely have money for your needs.
So, try to list down all your monthly fixed expenses in the first place:
- phone bills
- electric and water bills
- petrol (if you use car)
- Wi-Fi (if you use Wi-Fi)
These are the expenses that you can automate easily, with just a few clicks. Once you’re settled with that, all of those expenses will be deducted early on, so you don’t have to worry about them again.
3. Get a part time job
This particular advice is not easy to hear, but I personally wish I heed this advice during my university days. Even though you hold the title of a university student, you are already an adult. You are 100% responsible for yourself. This includes your finances. And ask any adults about their finances; it’s never safe to depend on only one source of income.
In your situation, despite your parents giving you money, something might happen to them that makes them re-prioritize their finances. Or even if nothing happens, your parents are well within their rights to withdraw their financial help on you. The same goes to scholarships, there is no guarantee in the future that you might fulfill their terms and conditions.
Yes, it is irritating. However, legally there is no fault being done here. If you still want to pursue what you study at the moment, it is up to you 100% on how to manage your finances.
So get that part time job. It is not about that money alone. It is about security, and how you can learn to manage your resources, which is not limited to just money, but also your time, energy, and attention. As a bonus, even as a part time job, that is the real-life working experience, whether related to your studies or not. When you graduate, despite wherever you’re going to work, there will be fairly uniformed aspects in all workplaces in Malaysia.
Treat this article as the beginning of you taking control of your own finances, after years being dependent on your parents. This small article itself could not teach you everything you need to know. But it is definitely enough to trigger you to learn more.
For me, I started learning about financial management by following related Instagram accounts. Here I leave my top 3, so you can get a kickstart by following them as well:
- Ramit Sethi: the author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich. He will give you principles on how to manage your expenses well, beyond scraping off coupons.
- The Financial Diet: they produce lots of interesting articles to read about managing your finances during your youth.
- Broke Millenial: don’t be fooled by the name, with already 3 books in the market, Erin Lowry shares everything you need to know, to actually not be broke.
4. Cut back costs on things… you know you don’t enjoy it.
Talking about Ramit Sethi here, there is one thing that he said that amazes me when I hear about it initially; cut your cost mercilessly on things you don’t enjoy. How many times have you heard that, to save money, don’t spend money on your desires, and focus only on your needs?
Not to say that it is totally untrue (in fact, it’s cliché because it’s true), but we all know practically it doesn’t work. Because, as I said in the beginning, there is a lot of psychology involving money. Yes, logically it’s a simple and easy step to cut down your wants to focus more on your needs.
But get this; you’re a human. With emotion. And to do that, is not emotionally simple nor easy.
So cherish that emotion. Do spend on things that you love very much. On certain, rare, occasions, do splurge! Just be more mindful of the neutral things that you spend – things that you don’t need in the first place, and you don’t want it that much either.
For example, in all truthfulness, you might not like Starbucks that much, but you keep buying one drink per week anyways. Maybe because it’s trendy, or because your friends like Starbucks so much that you keep following them anyway. Now, knowing what you know, you can cut Starbucks to only one drink per month, or even per two months. Because now you know, cutting that on your finances won’t hurt you emotionally. Maybe you won’t be as trendy, but that’s it.
Those pennies meant for Starbucks; you can direct that to your much important needs. Or if that’s settled already, you can use it to buy things that you actually like – scented candles, books, etc. That would benefit you more financially and psychologically.
To end this, I still believe what I had always believed; money is not everything, and as long as you are a good person, God will sustain you. But I’m not talking about God providing some kind of magical intervention here.
The main takeaway here, regardless of your beliefs towards God, is character building. Money at the very end, is just a means to gain things in life. Managing finances well, means that you learn how to take care of your resources. In that way, you will always be able to sustain yourself.
And learning how to manage your finances can be quite tricky, but it’s not rocket science. It is an essential part of your life that builds your character. To manage your finances well, or at least to learn to do it as a beginning, is a characteristic of a good person already. Once you nailed this, lots of other life aspects would be smoother for you. All the best!
If you are keen to know more about how to start saving up and planning the steps, check out this article that helps you start saving more money with six easy steps.