Budgeting – Low Cash Flow

If you’re having problems making ends meet, or saving money, one of the best solutions is to look at how you can increase your cash flow. If you can increase your cash flow, you’ll have extra money to put into savings, or spend on necessities.

The following is a list of ways that can help you either bring in more money, or take advantage of opportunities that will allow you to spend less.

  1. Free meals. During grad school, depending on your program, there are usually lots of events that will provide a free meal. In my department, for some departmental guest lectures, they supply coffee, tea, cookies and pastries. We also often have talks with pizza. Someone I know use to be able to get a free lunch almost every day of the week through various free talks. Attending these talks can also be great networking opportunities.
  2. Per Diems. When you travel (and get reimbursed), depending on your supervisor, you may be able to get a per diem instead of submitting receipts for meals. With a per diem, you get a set amount of money for meals per day. As long as you spend less on your meals, then any extra you get is a “bonus” and free money.
  3. Volunteer opportunities. Volunteering can be a great way to get more free meals or free travel. From volunteering I have been able to travel both within my province and overseas.
  4. Alumni Services. Once you graduate, you’re almost guaranteed to be bombarded with fliers and other advertisements from your previous university. Most of this is worth ignoring. However, I have seen deals for car and home insurance and discounts on travel come through these, so it’s worth keeping an eye out.
  5. Research Assistant. Yes, you may already be a TA or a set research assistant. But, if you ask around, you may find professors both in your department and in others, looking for someone to do a small project for them. As a computer scientist, I’ve seen notices of people looking for help developing websites. If you’re in the social sciences, look at advertising yourself as an editor.
  6. Tutoring. If you’re in a Masters or PhD program, you should know the material in your subject area well, which makes you a great candidate for tutoring. Also, tutoring is a great way to improve your ability to teach.
  7. Small chores. Small jobs around your apartment/basement suite or where ever you live. Can you mow lawn for neighbours? Be the “I’m locked out, after hours contact” for your building for a small fee (or decrease in rent?). It never hurts to ask.
Make it a point to let people know that you’re looking for odd jobs. And if you get one, do it well. The best way to continue getting work, is to impress those you’re working for so that they think of you next time, and pass your name along.
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