I’d say one of the most important lessons I learned as a law student would be how to save money in law school.
As a working law student, I know how utterly difficult it could be to make ends meet while providing for my legal education. Thus, I always had to be keen and wise with my expenditures.
9 Tips on How to Save Money in Law School
Whether you’re a working student or not, figuring out how to save money in law school is surely something to be concerned about. Accordingly, allow me to share some of the tips that worked for me so I can save up and stretch my resources the extra mile.
Okay, here we go.
Tip #1 on how to save money in law school: Cut down your coffee shop purchases and expenditures
I have nothing against patronizing coffee shops. But, we have to recognize how frequent coffee shop trips can drain one’s law school budget.
Think about this: an order of medium-sized espresso would cost you around Php 200 ($5). On the other hand, you can actually spend more or less the same amount to buying grocery coffee grounds (if you have your own coffee maker at home), packs of instant coffee, or drip coffee. Just the same, you’ll get almost the same caffeine boost without spending away your allowance or salary.
Eventually, you’ll need to save as much money as you could in order to prevent yourself from getting broke. And that includes cutting down on your coffee shop-related expenditures.
#2: Limit your school supplies purchases to more important ones
Law students can never have too many highlighters, pens, fountain pen inks, and notebooks. We couldn’t just help giving in to free shipping, as well as to “double-numbered promos” like 10-10, 3-3, or 11-11 promos. (Online shoppers can so relate!)
I should know because I’ve had my “harmless-hoarding-or-so-I-thought” phase at some point of my law student life. And I am sure, you (Yes, you!), know this very well.
You might think that “small purchases” of highlighters, fountain pen inks, and other school supplies have no bearing. But, the reality is, you lose more money when you do this. Since you believe that these small purchases are harmless, you keep buying and spending. Thus, you get the same result — spending more than you’re supposed to.
So, limit your expenses to those you really need. You don’t need 20 highlighters at a time when all you have to highlight in your readings are general rules, exceptions, and exceptions to the exceptions.
You know what I mean.
# 3: Bring your own food
Before this pandemic happened, I would often buy fast food. Back then, I find it more convenient not to bring any food containers with me. Consequently, my savings started to dwindle. I then found myself not having enough money to spend for bills and other more important stuff.
Whether you’re earning your money or getting allowance from your parents, it’s always best to cut down on your expenses. And one of the ways to do this is by bringing home-cooked meals or snacks to school.
You may not find this tip relevant these days as we’re staying at home most of the time due to quarantine protocols. However, this is something you may consider doing by the time we’re all allowed to have physical classes.
# 4: Invest on staple wardrobe pieces
I know that we’re required to look formal during our law school classes. However, this does not mean we should be breaking the bank to do this.
Prior to this pandemic, I made sure to invest on neutral-colored blazers and coats, as well as smart casual dresses. This way, I can mix and match them at any day. And because of this idea, I didn’t have to buy clothes often.
Remember, we are going to class to learn the law and train ourselves to become lawyers. We don’t go to law school to show off. Hence, we are not required to look fashion week savy. It’s enough that we look clean, formal, and presentable.
# 5: Find a study place near your house (or stay at home as much as possible)
When you stay home to study, you’ll have almost everything you need, especially food. This is exactly the reason why I prefer studying at home, in my room.
In order to make my room conducive for learning, I declutter my desk and organize my study materials. I do my best to make a decent study space for me so I don’t get distracted.
No need for “instagrammable” study space. Just work with anything you have to make a neat work space. After all, you’re doing this to make yourself more focused and productive, not to impress.
On the other hand, if you’re someone who really can’t focus in your room, you may want to just find a place around your neighborhood. This way, you don’t have to be spending a lot for commute. With the dangers of the pandemic still ahead of us, I think this is pretty much self-explanatory.
Look at my study space. It may not be that “aesthetically pleasing”, but it’s functional and does the job for me:
#6: Refrain from eating out often
This is another self-explanatory how to save money for law school tip. However, most law students tend to succumb to this.
Please note that it isn’t bad at all to treat yourself to a good restaurant after a successful recitation (or cold call) or getting good midterm or final exam result. However, what drains your savings are fancy dinners or lunches on a daily basis.
You may not eat out frequently these days. But, this is something you should consider when we’re all finally allowed to do leisure without restrictions. I wonder when would that be though…
# 7: Give digitized study materials a try
As I looked for ways on how to save money in law school in the past, digitizing my study materials and notes is something I’m glad I’ve given a try.
Instead of printing tons of papers for my case readings and digests/briefs, I tried making PDF compilations of them. Then, I’d either save them in my computer or tablet, or upload it on Scribd or Dropbox for easier mobile or online access.
Meanwhile, I’ve also been enjoying using OneNote for my note-taking. This application just makes writing, organizing, and retrieving notes easier! It also allows me to read or review my notes both on my laptop and mobile devices. (If you’re interested to know my experience, let me know in the comments below if you want me to write a blog post about it.)
Printing notes and case digests used to take up most of my law school budget allocation. But, as soon as I started digitizing my notes, I didn’t have to worry about printing expenses. Now, I can use my money for my other law school-related needs.
This tip may not be your cup of tea. But then, there’s no harm in trying, right?
Tip # 8: Learning how to save money in law school entails reusing and recycling too
Reusing and recycling also helped a lot in cutting down my law school-related expenses. Here are some of the things I tried:
- Instead of buying new notebooks, I used my old ones with unused leaves. Then, I stitched their old leaves to create new notebooks. I found a tutorial via Youtube that you may want to give a try.
- Recently, I’ve been using these DIY notebooks. They allow you to reuse your notebook pages without hassle or whatsoever. I learned about this from an online shop called Pulpy Trait. As soon as I tried their products, I know I’m going to be using them for my future projects. You may check out their shop here.
- I used old glass or plastic jars as receptacles for my highlighters and writing materials.
- Since I have a lot of gel pens, I decided to just buy gel pen ink refills for them. I know there’s nothing much to save. However, I do believe every cent counts.
- I utilized unused shoe boxes to store my journaling staples and stationeries.
You can recycle or reuse too. You just have to be open about the idea and be more creative!
#9: Never forget wellness and self-care
As the Clusivol multi-vitamins commercials would say, bawal magkasakit (Google Translate: It is forbidden to get sick). So, what better way to be healthy at all times than to invest on self care and wellness.
Because law students are often busy with school works, they often forget doing the basics: drinking vitamins, taking a break, getting as much sleep as they could, eating healthy, and exercising. As a result, they often get sick and burnt out.
The reality we have in this country is treatments or hospitalization costs are expensive. By staying healthy, you’re not just taking great care of yourself as future lawyer, you’re also keeping your (or your parents’) budget intact.
So, always prioritize yourself and your health above all else.
I’ve written several articles relating to law school health. If you have some spare time, you may want to read the following:
- Should You Keep a Law School Journal? (for mental health and well-being);
- How Much Caffeine is Safe for Law Students to Drink? (general health); and
- Law School Bedtime Routine for Law Students (general health)
Did you like this round up of tips on how to save money in law school?
If you like this post and find it useful, let us know in the comments below. Feel free to share this as well with your law school friends or anyone who might need to try these tips.