With inflation on the rise, the cost of basic necessities—from food and clothing to gas and electricity—is going up. This means that, in addition to pandemic stress, students now have to deal with an elevated cost of living. So, to help students manage, here are four money management ideas that don’t require a significant time commitment or a specialized knowledge of finance.
1. Buy in bulk (from Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Alibaba, etc.)
How often do you find yourself going to the store to buy a bottle of water, a can of soda, or a roll of paper towels? Retail prices of individual items tend to be higher on a per unit basis when compared with bulk pricing. From canned food and bottled beverages to back-to-school supplies and toiletries, figure out your consumption pattern and then buy in bulk using your favorite website—be it Amazon, Walmart, eBay, or Alibaba. One downside of this strategy is that you need space to stock up. But as long as you can get creative with finding storage space where you live, you’ll save significant amount of money in the long run.
2. Capitalize on promotional offers from financial institutions
These days, banks are flushed with liquidity, thanks to the stimulus payments that government has been offering since the onset of the pandemic. This means that banks are offering cash rewards to new customers for opening and maintaining checking accounts. Similarly, credit card companies are offering generous cash-back and promotional offers on credit card usage. For example, Deserve credit card offers free Amazon Prime for one year to eligible students in addition to 1 percent cash back. Capitalize on these opportunities and reduce your spending on daily expenses. Be careful, though. Just because you’re using a credit card to make purchases doesn’t give you the freedom to spend beyond your means.
3. Use interest-free financing from credit card companies
Another avenue credit card companies are using to incentivize customers to pivot to their platforms is offering interest-free financing on purchases for an introductory period, typically anywhere between six and 18 months. If you’re planning to make a big purchase such as buying a computer or a TV, and if you’re not able to secure an interest-free financing through the merchant, consider opting for an interest-free financing through credit card companies. However, before you sign up for such a financing option, you must feel confident in your ability to pay off the debt within the introductory period; if not, credit card companies tend to charge double-digit interest rates after the introductory period is over—thus, not paying off the debt within the introductory period has dire consequences.
4. Remember to pay yourself first
Pay yourself first refers to the idea that you earmark certain percentage of your monthly income towards your savings by moving that income to your savings and/or investment account. In other words, you pay yourself first every month before you start paying your monthly expenses. It’s best to do this in an automated fashion so there’s no friction associated with making the effort of moving money from one account to another every month. Paying yourself first and letting your savings compound over-time is a deceptively simple—and often underused—strategy to combat a higher cost of living in the long run.
Recipient of the Presidential Award from The White House, Vibhu Sinha is an intrapreneurial and bottom-line driven senior management professional with experience in leadership roles across banking and capital markets, advising institutional clients on corporate strategy, idea generation and pitching, financial planning and analysis, M&A, investor relations, and ESG. Vibhu developed his acumen in Behavioral Psychology at Harvard University as part of a master's degree program, and also earned an M.B.A. from UCLA Anderson.
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