For most of us the holidays are now a pleasant but fading memory. Being the start of the school and university year, it's worth reminding students how to save money on a limited or non-existent income.
Most oily rag tips on the oilyrag.co.nz website will apply to students, but we thought it worth summarising key messages.
Flat with others who also want to save money. Don't be too particular about the quality - it's not exactly a life-long habitation. Boarding may be a sensible option and even staying in the halls of residence may prove economic given it includes three meals a day. Check out all options. If you need furniture for your flat see what's available at local op shops. It's amazing how cool old furniture can look with a quick sand and repaint or white-wash stain.
See studying as a 40-hour a week job. That leaves you with free time to earn extra money. We know accountancy students who work part-time in accounting offices. Their busy time is between April and November, which is perfect for students. Most part-timers don't even have to turn up at the office - they can work from home. Other jobs may be doing lawns or landscaping, working in retail, doing research work for consultants, or tutoring secondary school students.
Walk or bike everywhere. It is estimated that half of all journeys are less than 3km. Biking is four times faster than walking, and takes about the same time as a bus trip. And better still, the cost of buying and maintaining a bike is about 1 per cent of the cost of buying and maintaining a car.
Buy text books second hand or book-pool with class mates.
Use student discount cards.
Study hard and party less. Booze is expensive so moderation is the way to go; or start a flat home brew. Don't smoke or do drugs.
Do your own cooking, or take cooking lessons. Use cheap meats. We took a quick trip to an online supermarket to see which meats were the best value and found the lowest cost per kilogram were sausages and sausage meat, then beef shin, gravy beef, mince, then blade steak. Bulk out meals with cheap ingredients such as potatoes, rice, and pasta.
Make meals in bulk and freeze them so you will have something ready when the cupboard is bare. That's a lot cheaper than take-aways.
Become a promiscuous shopper! By that we mean shop around for the best buys. Rotate your supermarket excursions around two or more supermarkets so you can see which are offering the best deals. Try your butcher, deli, greengrocer, bakery, or farmers' market. Buy fresh fruit and veges directly from growers and orchards, especially road-side stalls and pick-your-own places. Try ethnic food outlets. Many have bulk deals on staples such as rice and flour and may have deals on fresh fruit and veges sourced directly from market gardens.
Use cash to pay for groceries - that way you will not only see the money going out of your bank account, you will feel it slipping through your fingers.
Always check out the specials before you shop.
Don't buy highly processed food - such as "microwave meals in a minute". You are simply paying for preparation that you could do yourself.
Don't buy lunch and cut down on coffees! Take a cut lunch and drink water - it's free.
If you have a tip for students or flatters, send it to us so we can share it around by visiting www.oilyrag.co.nz - or by writing to us at Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei.
If you have a favourite frugal recipe or oily rag tip that works well for your family, share it with thousands of others by sending it to us at www.oilyrag.co.nz, or by writing to us at Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei, and we will relay it to the avid readers of this column.