In business school, you learn how a disciplined, strategic approach to finances helps organizations ultimately achieve great things. Along the way, it becomes important for you to apply that lesson to yourself.
The years in business school and then working as a new MBA are, for many, a budget-conscious time. Between leaving your job to complete the degree and perhaps incurring student-loan debt to ease the financial burden, you may need to pinch some pennies before you reach your full earning potential as an MBA.
Here are seven ways that soon-to-be and recently graduated MBAs can save money:
1. Make a budget with specific goals.
For many people, making a budget is a chore, but not you—as an MBA, this is your bread and butter! Think of it as you would an assignment in business school: What does Company X (i.e., you) need to do in order to meet shareholder expectations (i.e., have enough money to pay all your bills while still enjoying life and generating some savings)?
The more specific you can get about your spending allowances and savings goals the better. If you have trouble tracking your expenses and sticking to a budget, try using a free money-management app such as Mint.
If you end up with money left over in your budget, consider investing in the future. There are many new companies that help automate this process and optimize your investments, such as Betterment.
2. Cut back on inessentials.
In business school and then as a new MBA, you’re exposed to a lot of wealth. It can be tempting to want to join the party. But now is the time to buckle down and wait for the years when you have more disposable income. Is premium cable really necessary when you already have Netflix? Is the new iPhone that much better than the one in your pocket? If your five-year-old Honda gets you where you need to go, can you hold off on that new car?
You get the point: Eliminate expenses that are inessential. It doesn’t mean you’ll never have these things, just not right now.
3. Learn to cook.
One inessential item is so often the culprit in blowing a budget that it deserves its own category: Eating out. As a business-school student or recent grad, you may feel like you don’t have time to make your own meals. But learning how to cook is an epic money saver, with at-home meals costing a fraction of eating in a restaurant.
If you are challenged in the kitchen, check out one of the many meal-planning apps available. The popular and free BigOven app puts hundreds of thousands of recipes, as well as grocery lists and menu planners, at your fingertips. Once you get in the habit of cooking, you can save even more money by buying ingredients in bulk. You can also cook in bulk, known as batch cooking, so that one meal becomes several—things like lasagna and chili can be frozen and portioned for meals throughout the week.
4. Unsubscribe from tempting emails.
Are you someone who’s tempted by great deals? Retailers know just the right buttons to push with their “killer deal” headlines.
Do yourself a favor and unsubscribe from any mailing lists and newsletters that promote products that you might be tempted to buy. As a side benefit, simplifying your digital life in this way will also save you time because you won’t need to weed through so many incoming messages.
5. Milk your student status.
While you’re in business school—no matter how old you are—you are considered a student in the eyes of any place that offers student discounts. Student rates often are available at museums, theatres, sporting events, and retailers. You can also find discounts on technology services, insurance rates, and travel and transportation expenses.
Discounts for students can be significant, ranging from 5%-30%. So, before you buy a ticket or make a purchase, remember to check if there’s a student rate available. Usually all you need is your student ID card to be granted the discount.
6. Investigate off-peak discounts.
In addition to student discounts, sometimes MBA students can take advantage of off-peak discounts. While you’re in business school, you might find yourself with a more flexible—or at least, less traditional—schedule than you have at a 9-5 job. Airline tickets are often cheaper if you’re able to travel mid-week. Many restaurants offer happy hour menus early in the evening. Some gyms offer discounted memberships to people who are able to use the facility during off-peak times. It can’t hurt to ask.
7. Refinance your student loan.
Student-loan debt leaves many MBAs, even ones who have landed well-paying jobs, strapped for cash. If you’re a recent or soon-to-be graduate who borrowed money to pursue business school, you may want to consider refinancing your student loans at a lower interest rate.
Refinancing your student loans can reduce your monthly payments and help you pay off your loans faster. DRB will refinance student loans for graduated MBAs who have an offer letter verifying income, so even if you’re not working yet, you can start saving on your loan payments.