Students often live on little to no money for years at a time. They don’t have much money but they have to make it work.
Budgeting can be hard at times. Still everyone makes it and most people consider university years the best time of their lives.
As we get older we start progressively to earn more and more money. We also start to spend more money to a degree that in the end of the month we still have no money in our bank account.
It seems like no matter how high the earning grow, costs just follow right after.
What is happening?
Somewhere in the middle we drop the ball.
To understand why this was happening I decided to go back to the same budget I had when I was a student.
The student budget challenge is to attempts to return to the same level of spending as when he was a student.
The question is: is it even possible to live on a student’s budget and still live well as adults?
I decided to find out.
So how much is a student budget I have to aim for?
Personally, as a student I had a monthly budget of 800 euro. We can look at this number and say it is high or low, but this is what I was working with.
My monthly expenses at that time were as following (in euro):
- Housing: 400
(student town – some students paid 200 for their housing)
- University fees: 160
(1350 yearly fees, with option to do 3 separate payments of 480 = 160 month)
- University expenses: 50
(i.e., books, etc. Realistically all university expenses were 150 but I cut on them for food)
- Food + other costs: the rest +/- 200
I was lucky never to need to take debt. My parents were my bank, to which I am very grateful.
Also, some people will say that my university fees were too low. This was possible because my studies were in the Netherlands and so as I am EU citizen government helped me to pay majority of my education (which was supposed to cost around in reality 11.000 euro).
So, now I know that my aim should be around 800 euro, but I still need my current at that time expenses.
Before starting student budgeting challenge, my expenses at were:
- Housing: 750 (I live in Amsterdam)
- Insurance: 130 (before government paid for insurance)
- Phone bill (including per month payment for new phone): 80
- Food: +/- 400
Considering that my earning at a time from my 1st job, after taxes, was 1400 euro and that I had other non fixed expenses (gym, party, unexpected costs, …), I was indeed left with no money in the end of a month.
And so I decided to change my life situation and after 1,5 years, today I am paying:
- Housing: 500
- Insurance 65
- Phone bill 45
- Food 300
Its not 800, still very nice. Almost my university budget and almost 400 euro per month in saving. In a year it is almost 5000 euro!
As a say goes: “every cent saved is a cent earned”.
So what did I do with my new 5000 euro a year bonus?
I left my job to a less well paid one, which I enjoyed more, with more opportunity for the future: entrepreneurship – started this blog.
Also, I took some time to find myself. I did not know what I wanted in life. Previous job took almost all of my time and energy. The few time I had free I wanted to relax and do nothing.
Free time allowed me to read, to study what I want, to go out running and to catch up with my friends, while making new ones.
Indeed, I left my work and took a part-time job, which covered my costs, plus a little extra, for a rainy day. Today, I have enough to live the lifestyle I desire.
Specifically, I live in Amsterdam, which is an amazing city with tons of opportunity and fun things to do here. I travel by bike everywhere and I live 15 minutes away from the center of the city.
I live with flatmates. It is actually great. I chose my flatmates from people with same objectives and interests in life. Most of them have already made it. They have their own businesses or are running profitable businesses.
I live comfortably and cheap. I surprise myself daily how with little money it takes to live this way. My meals for example cost sometimes as little as 2 euro and I get everything I want out of them.
My back account is growing. I save all extra money with no specific intention of spending it.
I see it this way: If something happens and I need money, I have it. If I did not have anything extra, like before I started my challenge, I would be in trouble.
This means that saving money is better than spending money. It creates a safety net.
As Brian Tracy, a world leading experts on self growth once said:
“We need to replace the idea of pleasure in spending money, by pleasure in saving it”.