Living Within Your Means on campus is very important. Being an Abusite often means being in a period of transition and adjustment. Perhaps one of the most major adjustments for ABU students (both ON and OFF Campus) is adjusting to living within your means while in school.
Financial aid and stipends from family and friends are intended to help you meet your educational costs, but not to cover all of your expenses. For Abusites with spouses and dependents, life a time is a bit harder.
As an Abusite, Living within your means is easier when you have a budget to work from. Creating a budget helps you to determine your core expenses while also highlighting any unnecessary discretionary spending. Monitor your budget on a regular basis and make adjustments as needed to your spending to meet your goal.
A great way to stay within your budget is to make a shopping list, especially for groceries. Making and following a shopping list help you to stay on budget and avoid impulse purchases. Using coupons for items on your list can help you to stay within your budget too.
You may be surprised by just how much you can save when you follow your budget. Don’t be quick to spend your new savings. Save it for any unanticipated costs and emergency needs.
Building a budget from scratch can be difficult. For many Abusites, setting a savings goal can make creating and following a budget more attainable. Try using the SMART goal strategy.
- Specific: Saying you will “save money” isn’t enough. Setting a specific goal like “save enough to study abroad in France” is better.
- Measurable: How else will you know if you have met or are close to your goal?
- Attainable: The goal should be something you can actually reach.
- Relevant: Your goal should apply to your needs. It should somehow benefit your progress toward your degree.
- Time-Related: Your goal needs a target date.
Did you build any discretionary spending into your budget? Are there any other costs you can reduce? It is easier to reduce your expenses than to increase income.
Simple discretionary transactions, like buying fura at the ABU social center, may not seem like much, but they can add up quickly or become habitual. Cutting out or reducing these seemingly trivial transactions can turn into big savings.
Think about the 300 Naira cup of Fura. If you buy that every weekday, that is costing you 1500 Naira per week or 6000 per month! Changing up these transactions with simple things like adding a particular grocery, adding a particular item you really need at home, or using a refillable water bottle can make the transition a little easier.
How are you paying for most of your expenses? Are you using your loan app or borrowing? Doing so can compound the overall expense. Both loans must eventually be paid back with interest. As you cut your discretionary expenses, you may find that you don’t need to borrow as much or even borrow at all.
For many ABU students with little or no financial support from any source, borrowing from loan apps or whatever source is a necessity to cover the cost of basic needs. However, many students may not consider the total amount of loans they borrow each year. Perhaps the best way to determine if you are over-borrowing is to consider what you are funding with your loans. Are these costs new because you are now a student or are these recurring costs you had prior to becoming a student?
New costs for students are typically things like school fees, Study Materials, textbooks, etc. Recurring costs are usually things like room and board, gas, etc.
While it’s not always feasible for students to do this, one recommendation is to consider only using your loans for your new costs and not for recurring costs. If you are able to only borrow for new costs, you may be able to significantly reduce your debt.
Do you know how much debt you already have? Start out by writing down all of your sources of debt. Include things like the name of the lender, the amount owed, interest rates, and loan terms (ex: repayment period). Now total up all of your debt. Seeing this total can lend a better perspective of where you stand financially and help to drive you toward healthy financial decisions.
Knowing what you owe, now consider what you are paying toward these debts each month. Are you paying the minimum payment required? Paying the minimum can drastically inflate the total cost of your debt as well as the length of time necessary to repay. If possible, pay more than the minimum amount required each month to cut down on both time and interest accrued on your debt.
Keep in mind, reducing or eliminating debt won’t happen overnight. but having a strategy and making healthy financial decisions can go a long way.