There are many similarities between being financially fit and physical or mental wellbeing. For one, possessing financial awareness, or “fitness”, will barricade us against stressors such as emergency use of funds. Money has a tendency to leave us at the earliest opportunity and, especially as students, when stress hits a lot of rational thought goes out the window. This leaves us vulnerable to frivolous spending. So how do we become healthier at managing our finances? Is there a certain formula we should follow or rely on some common rule of thumbs? The real answer is that, like taking care of our bodies and minds, the strategies work differently for different people. However, like physical exercise, practice through habit-formation helps ward unnecessary spending out and improve your ability to save and invest in things that really matter. Like your education or raising a family.
Unless your goal is to be the next fashionista, chasing the latest trends is often a poor investment of our resources. Fads come in and out of style and “fast fashion” not only places economic burdens on stylists but also environmental burdens on the planet. The waste produced from the fashion industry is a first world problem that is pushed by the mass advertising campaigns and the increasingly materialistic nature of our societies. So what are some possible ways to avoid “buying in” to this billion-dollar industry? Try to invest in staple pieces that don’t go out of style such as a structured black blazer or a pair of sturdy blue jeans. Second-hand clothing for designer brands found on sites such as eBay and Kijiji also curb our cravings to shop. Another tip is to purchase all your clothing off season at a clearance or sale price rather than paying the full retail price tag.
Eating out seems inevitable at times, particularly when social activities are so tightly bound to eating and drinking. In my own friend circles, I’ve suggested going for coffee rather than a full sit down dinner to improve my own savings. Another handy idea might be to suggest lunch rather than dinner as often, the dinner menu prices tend to be associated with more inflated costs. Going out to restaurants that offer Groupon deals, special offers, or student discounts can further protect your wallet from taking a big hit. If your reason for eating out is food cravings rather than social reasons, try buying raw ingredients for your favorite dish and preparing it with a tested recipe online. The results are often surprisingly delicious and save you the additional charge for ambience and service.
It is incredibly difficult to avoid technology as a student in the twenty-first century. Recently, I’ve noticed the number of assignments, projects and even exams that are delivered through an electronic platform. Athabasca University’s courses are run almost entirely online and impossible to complete without a desktop, laptop, or tablet of some kind. Hence many students acquire various electronic tools throughout their academic career. However, occasionally the infatuation with technology can consume us. Like fashion, we might find ourselves playing catch-up with the newest iPhone or the lightest tablet. But tech gadgets that are fashionable now will not be three years down the road. Hence, purchasing used gadgets in good condition can save you a significant fraction of the retail price. If you are looking to invest in a reliable piece of technology, try purchasing them in August or September, when back-to-school deals are offered at nearly every software and electronic store.