During this time of graduate school, most of us are living on money that simply isn’t ours. We take out loans to invest in our education. Not just a little bit either. Medical and Dental students end up with a freaking boatload of debt from the moment they start school, till graduation. Now you may choose how to spend it as you want. My advice is to spend as little as possible and take out as little as possible. You need to be frugal.
I have come up with a few ideas on how to be frugal. There are so many more ideas on how to be frugal than what I have posted. I think these are the more important ones. If you want me to list some more tell me and I’ll do it. I just felt like it was getting a little long so I cut it short.
Get a group/bundle discount
My first week in dental school we were informed that we had to buy scrubs and loops. Scrubs can add up to be fairly pricey and loops, well, those are just expensive no matter what. Plus side is if you order in a bundle you can receive a discount. A great example is the loops I purchased. We had a few sale reps come to us and present their products. After trying some on and seeing which ones were comfortable for my head I went with Q-Optics.
These loops were going to cost me $1,290, which is the student price. This is a lot of money for me. I even avoided the more expensive loops that he had to offer.
Turns out there was a good portion of my class that was ordering their loops from the same vendor. We got together, emailed the sales rep and expressed that we desired a discount. He told us if 20 people ordered their loops from him he would take off $100.
Not a lot, but hey, still enough to make me feel better to know I was saving $100 on my purchase.
Another example is scrubs. Get together with your class, find a common brand that you like, and do a bundle purchase. There are discounts when you order X amount. You will receive a certain percentage off. Take advantage of this.
You can use the money you save elsewhere… Just not for lunch.
Pack your own lunch
This is something I am adamant about. If I forget to pack a lunch, I will not eat lunch that day. Simple as that. People think I’m crazy and some people think it’s impressive that I have that kind of willpower. To be honest, it simply isn’t in my budget, and my budget is law. I will not break that law.
If you were to purchase lunch everyday it tends to add up, not quickly, but over time.
We have a cafeteria right next to our building that you can buy a decent meal for $5 (excluding a drink). Let’s say you go out to eat every day during the week… so five times a week. $5×5=25. Easy math. Now there are 52 weeks in a year… I understand we are not in school every week and that there are weeks off, but for simplicity, we will say 52.
Alright, you have spent $1,300 just on that cafeteria next door in a period of a year. Do this for four years and man you have spent $5,200. But wait we haven’t included the interest!
I’m going to use the Grad Plus interest rate which currently is 7%. Take that $1,300(which isn’t yours) times that by the APR of your loan … 1,300×0.07+1,300=$1,391
$91 dollars isn’t horrible, but after a period of four years, the interest has accrued a total of $364. That’s 72 extra meals just in interest.
Save your money pack your own lunch the night before. It will be worth your time.
Commute by train/bus
I didn’t think this would be an important topic but low and behold it is! I’ll shed some light as to why.
I have a few colleagues (myself included) that have to travel a fair distance to get to school. There are two options for us: drive your own car or commute by public transportation.
I choose to take the train…. or bus, depends on the day and if I missed the train. But this way I am not stressed about the traffic around me and my wife has the car for the day.
Because I am not stressed about the traffic around me or focusing on my driving I can actually use this time to study. Some of my most efficient study sessions I’ve had have been on the train. Or if I had a really stressful day I can just listen to music and reflect on how stressed I am and how I should be using that time to study. It’s great.
Also, chances are the school you are attending has included public transit costs into your tuition. Many schools I interviewed with mentioned that they do this. So, in a roundabout way riding the train to school and back is “free”.
But if I was to drive my own car I would have to….
1.) Pay for parking which is $300 a year.
2.) Put milage on my vehicle and pay for gas
3.) Miss out on study time
4.) Potentially get into an accident!
That last one, getting into an accident, has already happened to TWO of my colleagues! It has only been 2 months! This sucks for so many reasons. Your insurance will increase, you are out a vehicle if the damage is bad enough, there will be expenses to pay for body repair, and you will have extra stress which you don’t need.
Traveling by public transit will save more money than you think. It is worth it to wake up earlier and leave school earlier to save money and stress.
Others to Consider
Items depreciate so quickly after they have been purchased. Take advantage of this and buy used things. Turns out most of the things you need can be bought used. This ranges from furniture to scrubs. I have a couple of colleagues that have bought their scrubs from Deseret Industries (It’s like a Good Will) for a killer price.
Most of my furniture is used. My couch, coffee table, tv, dining table, and chairs. A lot of the things we own have been used by other people. I even bought my car used. These items may not be the most modern furniture but it gets the job done and I saved a fair amount.
Buying used is a great way to be frugal. It WILL save you money. Just don’t buy cheap…
Pay your bills on time
I don’t feel like there is much more to be said about this. Pay your bills on time… enough said. If you don’t pay your bills, you end up receiving late fees. Set up an auto-pay so that you never miss a payment and you’ll avoid all those late fees. More importantly, you will be saving your credit.
Use student/military discounts
Turns out being a student/military has its benefits, almost everywhere. If I go to get a haircut, turns out I can get a few bucks off because I’m a student. Go see a movie, there is a student price for that. Buy a computer for school, you guessed, it student discount.
You need to ask if they offer discounts though. Chances are they won’t ask you if you are a student so that they can give you the discount. Same goes for being active duty. Be sure to ask and save a couple of dollars here and there.
Turn off your lights
Just like packing your own lunch this will save a little amount of money that will add up over time. If you are leaving a room, simply turn off the light. If you’re not using the toaster, unplug it. Turns out when an electronic is plugged in, even if it isn’t on, it will draw electricity.
I go to the extreme here and I refuse to charge my computer and phone when I’m at home. I’m not sure how much this will save me over the next few years but I feel good about it. Also, I justify my actions by saying it will increase the longevity of my batteries by not having them plugged in all the time.
Tell me whatcha think? Are you being frugal? Are you doing some of these methods to be frugal? Do you have other methods that I didn’t mention? Comment below!