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8 Easy Ways To Save Money If You’re A Perpetually Broke Student

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By Shambhavi Saxena

wallet-emptyBeing a student in India is often synonymous with living on a tight budget, especially when ‘home’ is far away from your school or college. Our bank accounts are our lifelines, but too many of us know that crushing feeling when an ATM screen flashes those deadly words at us: ‘INSUFFICIENT BALANCE.’
But there are ways around this.

1. Monitoring

Remember washing down that fancy meal with a tall glass of guilt and mild panic? Or ignoring that bad feeling that accompanies you on your much too regular dhaba visits? The first and most important step is to track your expenses. You’re going to need to spend the first month of your semester collecting all the bills and receipts handed to you. Then you sit down and go over where you’re spending and how much. Consider downloading a free money managing app like Buxfer to get a better idea on where you can cut down.

2. Food

Eat at home or at your mess (since you’re paying a mess fee anyway), or cook your own meals if you live alone. Take away menus may look convenient, but your wallet is going to disagree. Even if you limit yourself to ordering one ‘cheap’ meal, at ₹200 a day, that’s still roughly ₹6,000 a month! Mess food or cooking will bring that down to between ₹1700-2500 each month. Money saved: ₹3500!

Also, pro-tips: (i) don’t go grocery shopping on an empty stomach or the urge for unnecessary stuff will overpower you, (ii) and try to buy your food in bulk for a better deal.

3. Clothing

Don’t shop cheap! Yes, it may seem like you’re getting more out of less, but multiple small little, ‘guilt-free’ purchases (stuff you get for ₹200) can build up to over ₹5000 in one semester alone! And they’re going to be unwearable pretty soon. Instead, a one-time purchase of great quality jeans, boots and such will last you longer. Variety is nice, but savings are nicer.

4. Electronics

If you’re living in a flat, you know the headache of electricity bills and water bills. Regardless of what price range your current government has set, you should make a habit of unplugging devices not in use. Check your fridge settings and change seasonally for optimum use and saving.

How would you like to see your electricity bill of, say ₹1000 drop to ₹500? Shift to LED lighting! They’re brighter than incandescent bulbs, last for 30,000-50,000 hours, and take the strain off the environment. Oh, and don’t leave your laptops on charge when they’re at 100%. Not doing so might cost you a hefty bill and your laptop!

5. Study Material

You can cut spending on your textbooks and readings by half when you buy them second-hand or off senior students. Based on my own experience, if you spend ₹900 a semester and up to ₹7500 in four years on just texts, you can bring that down to ₹3750. Not bad, right? Those who can, should invest in scanned textbooks and PDFs. Also, share the love folks, help your peers save money too!

6. Transport

This is crucial since students have to do a lot of intra-city travel, whether it’s to coaching or just urban exploration. But monthly fuel bills of ₹3000, or cab fares of ₹300 on weekends (₹1500 per month!) can drain your account. Taxi apps are useful for late night soirées and airport pick-ups, but when you can cover the length of Delhi in under ₹30, why wouldn’t you!? This is an actual option in cities that have a Metro service. Also, use the bus! Even the fanciest of them (like Delhi’s low-floor buses) charge ₹25 for over 12 km. Even with daily commuting, you’ll be spending less than ₹2000 a month. Also, waking up earlier and walking to places costs nothing!

7. Waste Management

Segregating your waste is not just about being environmentally conscious, identifying and cutting out useless packaging. You can actually exchange your cardboards and paper waste to a raddiwala for cash at roughly ₹10/kg. That translates to ₹100 a semester. Kabadiwalas will also buy metal and glass waste from you at similar rates. Alternatively, upcycle them into useful items that also look really cool.

8. Recreational Substances

Okay calm down, we’re not asking you to go cold turkey, and we’re not telling you you’re the devil for doing these things, but hey, if you can save money by cutting down on cigarettes and the like, you should! An average smoker will spend about ₹1500 on cigarettes, monthly. That’s a whopping ₹54,000 during just your under-graduation! Cutting back on the smokes by even a third can save you ₹17820. You can actually buy a decent netbook with that. In fact, it can even cover your food costs (at ₹3000 per month) for a little over one semester!

It’s always a good idea to keep aside money each month for emergencies or miscellaneous expenses, and you might face some temptation to break into this pool (or ‘mad money,’ as I like to refer to it), but if you follow the above tips, you’re sure to match the amount in no time. And remember, a rupee saved is a rupee earned!

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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