THE ART OF INVESTING
If you are a college student, cashlessness is a perpetual state of existence. Short on funds and craving for pleasurable pursuits, you have two options. Resign to your impoverished status, or go through the 20 pointers we have compiled for you. These will not only help you save and manage your money better, but also tell you how to make some on your own. Go on, read them-and have 20 times more fun.
MANAGING YOUR MONEY
- Make A Monthly Budget: This doesn’t have to be a complicated number-crunching exercise. A simple Excel sheet or the planner in your mobile will suffice. The idea is to keep track of your monthly expenses and plug any unnecessary spending.Start by listing your fixed expenditure like transportation cost, food, etc, and keep aside money for these. The balance can then be used for discretionary expenses like shopping, gifting or partying.
- Plan Your Purchases: Has the Rs 1,000 spent on a dress for freshers’ night left you broke? Simple mathematics and a bit of planning could have helped you avoid the situation. Cutting down your expenses by Rs 250 every month would have saved you Rs 1,000 in just four months and made the dress affordable. Planning ahead is an easy way to prevent bankruptcy.
- Fund For Emergencies Or Opportunities: “Since students don’t have a steady source of income, it is a must to have a fund for situations that might require some quick cash,” says financial adviser Rohit Sarin. Rather than borrowing from friends, making small adjustments, such as skipping a movie at the multiplex or ordering pizzas less often, can help you prepare for both opportunities and crises.
- Select A Good Savings Account: Rather than going for a regular bank deposit, look at products specifically designed for students. Apart from the zero-balance facility and regular freebies, students’ savings accounts have other benefits which make them better than a no-frills account. For instance, free demand drafts for paying examination fee or buying application forms are offered to student account holders of Punjab National Bank, Corporation Bank and State Bank of India. Punjab National Bank also provides an overdraft facility, Maharashtra Bank offers free assistance in sending applications to universities abroad and you can get concessional educational loans if your account is with Vijaya Bank.
- Avoid Debt: If you have to swipe, use a debit card. “Unlike credit cards, there is no interest or late-payment charge in the case of a debit card, so there is no danger of stacking up a debt. It will also help instill financial discipline if you spend only what you have,” says Sarin.
- Prepay Mobile Expenses: Choose a prepaid plan to avoid ugly surprises at the end of each month. You can also customise to make the plan cheaper. So if your calls don’t last more than a few seconds, get a pay-per-second plan, or if you are an SMS addict, add a message card to make them free.
- Use Free ATMs: After the first five transactions in a month, you are charged Rs 20 per cash withdrawal if you are operating an ATM outside your bank’s network. So, regular withdrawals from ATMs outside the surcharge-free network can be expensive. Avoid them.
- Insurance? Not Required: Since students don’t have any earning to protect or dependants to take care of, they don’t need any cover, says Sarin. Also, in case of a medical emergency, you have your dependent card to fall back upon. An insurance policy is useless, unless you have a loan to return.
MAXIMISING YOUR MONEY
- Patience Pays: Even if you are dying to buy the new Android phone, waiting for a few months will be a good idea. Gadgets’ prices tend to fall as soon as there is a successor in the market. So, postponing your purchase for the same model by a month or two can get you a price cut.
- Swap ‘n’ Save: Haven’t you always exchanged your books and CDs with friends and cousins? Now you can do the same online to get a wider choice and save as well.Websites such as bookchums.com, swapadda.com and booksvilla.com can help you search for a person to exchange your belongings with.
- Search For Online Bargains: Before you go for a movie or lunch with friends the next time, do not forget to surf the Internet. Discount sites are mushrooming by the day, with some offering as much as 95% off on a variety of products and services. You can get huge bargains at restaurants, on multiplex movie tickets, apparel, gyms, spas and a lot more.
- Go Shopping With A List: Did you go to buy a lip balm and returned with a bagful of cosmetics? An excellent way to control impulsive buying is to make a list before heading towards the market. Though the shelves are filled with temptations, pledge to stick to your requirements, and you will have more money at the end of the month.
- Contribute To Save: Buying books often burns a hole in your pocket. Instead, ask your friends to chip in and buy them together. The unit cost will reduce and you can take turns to make notes. Once you get the degree, they can be sold and the money can be divided equally among the group members. This can be done for other things, such DVDs and computer games, as well.
- Party At Home: Rather than spending thousands of rupees in a restaurant, take permission from your parents to organise a barbeque party in your backyard. If this sounds like a lot of work, just spruce up your room and order some good food to have fun at half rate.
- Head Outdoors: Rather than confining yourself to expensive man-made options, occasionally opt for outdoor experiences. There’s a lot to choose from. You can go picnicking, camping or bicycling with friends. Spending time with nature is both fun and frugal.
- Inexpensive Entertainment: The city’s community centres offer several quality entertainment options which are also extremely inexpensive. You can opt for musical performances, film festivals, art exhibits, theatre productions, dance recitals, sporting events and much more. Check out the local newspapers to keep track of such events.
- Free Facilities: In all likelihood, there are several free services, such as the Internet, gym, dance classes, photography clubs and free training for various courses, that your educational institute offers.Utilise these in-house facilities to save money.
- Tap Your Hobbies: As a college student, baking was a hobby for Sonal Khurana, till her friends suggested that she turn it into a side business. The 22-year-old began by putting up stalls in college fests and taking orders from classmates. Last year, she managed a profit of Rs 1.62 lakh and has recently turned it into a full-time profession. Hers is not the only money-making skill that you can tap. Arpita Kala, a 21-year-old print media student, customises shoes and charges Rs 450 per order. You could even form your own music band, or go for the more common pursuits like blogging and photography. The bottom line? If you have talent, turn it into a trade.
- Part-Time Positions: Get a part-time job to supplement your pocket money. There are various profiles, such as content writers, BPO executives, transcriptionists, to choose from. You could also opt for unusual roles like a city tour guide or recruitment agent. Then there are the home-based online jobs, but you need to be careful before applying as many are scams. Job search sites like searchmycapus.com and firstnaukri.com, which are specifically designed for college students, can be helpful. You can also seek advice from your college placement cell.
- Opportunities In College: Being a part af cultural societies and participating in competitions that offer cash prizes can fetch you a few bucks. In addition, find out about the scholarships offered by your institution and the criteria to avail of them. And if any of your professors is involved in research work, enquire if they need assistance with their surveys or other errands.