7 Ways to Save During Your PhD Studies
Working through a PhD is freaking awesome, but it's not the ideal financial situation. PhD students work their asses off, but our stipends are typically small, if we're lucky to even have one. While contributing to the creation of knowledge is neat, the financial stretching - not so much...
Fortunately, there a number of ways to survive your studentship and save some cash along the way.
1. Reap in those student discounts!!
Firstly, get familiar with all of the clothing companies that have student discounts. A great place to start is with UniDays. This is a website that brings all of those discounts, plus notifies you of additional sales from all of the clothing companies and brands you can think of here in Ireland. It all works by signing in with your university ID. You can set up email alerts. Discounts can be found for big things like Apple products, along with plenty of clothing stores, stationary brands and fitness related outlets. Typically discounts are around the 10% range, but UniDays will also have more significant discounts. I find that you can save a lot, especially when you're looking to buy those more expensive pieces like a new coat or fancy handbag.
Also, if you use public transport, make sure to take advantage of any offers for transportation discounts using a student card.
2. Make your coffee at HOME.
Buy a reusable mug and a cute coffee press to get started. Both can be purchased affordably. This way you can make your coffees just the way you like them and save a ton of money in the long run. For example, a typical mocha costs at least €3.00 and if you were to purchase just three mornings a week, that's about €36 a MONTH. That's more than my phone bill! Instead, buy your preferred coffee and milk which lasts longer and costs less over time.
3. Embrace the store brands and shop at the discount grocery stores!
You can save some serious cash buy shopping at Lidl or Aldi. Also, for toiletries like tooth paste, razors, hair ties or body wash, you can save money by picking those items up at the discount stores like Dealz, instead of spending more money on them at a pharmacy or grocery store. Again, it may seem silly in the short term, but in the long run you can save a lot!
4. Set up a savings account with a monthly standing order from your regular banking account if you can.
This is especially effective if you are funded via a research stipend. If your PhD stipend is paid to you monthly, bi-weekly or weekly, set up a standing order for pay day. Before you can spend it away, the amount you've allotted to save each time will be moved into that savings account. It doesn't need to be a vast amount, but it's important to always be saving. By the end of the year you would be surprised how much you have saved! You might have enough for a little holiday where you can escape all of those emails.
5. If you can't go a day without your music, make sure you sign up for Spotify or Apple Music using the student membership options to save €5.00 a month! You get all the same benefits and since both have student membership options, you can pick which one you prefer and dance your heart out.
6. Take advantage of events serving food if you do your research on campus... Often times seminars or mini-conference events will take place during lunch times. Your campus might have journal clubs or PhD Lunch clubs. It's a great opportunity to network with other colleagues and get a free lunch! Events like this are often circulated throughout departments, tweeted about or posted on your university's events page. Those occasional free lunches mean one less meal to buy each time, allowing you spend that lunch money on a sweet treat or a spare cup of coffee or dropped into your change jar if you have one.
7. Pack your own lunches!
This will help you maintain a healthy diet and save you some cash on lunches wherever you're working. Once you're a graduate student, you're likely to have access to those nifty department kitchens that you wouldn't as an undergrad. I typically pack my lunch four times per week and have one day where I buy something special on campus. This helps me eat healthy and save money all around.
All in all, Ph.D's are hard, but your bank account shouldn't have to suffer. Take advantage of what feels like life-long studentship and reap in the rewards of putting off the real world for a while longer.