For most students, living away from home for the first time and getting used to a tight budget can be tricky. You need to ensure that you cover all the important things. Therefore, learning to budget and even save money is essential.
It can really add up when you think about it, food, books, accommodation and of course a social life. Before you set off for uni, therefore, getting your figures in order could be a good plan.
According to a recent UCAS survey a student’s average spend is around £235 per week, although freshers’ week usually comes in much higher. Managing these costs is essential from the start, or money issues can quickly spiral. A significant number of students who drop out of uni do so because of finances. So here is our quick guide to money management to help ensure you are not one of this number.
Money Management Tip 1 -Create a budget
A good place to start is to create a budget based on your income and all your outgoings, remember this can be a simple budget. The regular ongoing expenses you should be considering include rent, utilities, mobile phone, and any membership fees.
Make sure you have all of the correct figures and write them down; these are your costs that should be the same from one month to the next. Then you will need to factor in some money for those additional things that could vary from one week to the next, food, socialising and books – this last one is most likely to be much greater at the start of your course.
There are some great simple budgeting apps out there, so see if there is one to suit you. Alternatively, a simple Excel spreadsheet could work just as well.
Tip 2 – Stick to your budget
Once you have your budget planned out it is important to stick to it. Of course, that’s easier said than done in exciting new surroundings. There are some things that you can do to make it easier, though:
- Don’t keep all of your money in the same account – and set up direct debits to move your regular payments out
- Leave yourself a buffer – don’t account for all your money in your budget. Leave a little spare for emergencies
- Pay for course essentials like books first – and consider second-hand where possible. Your uni may have a second-hand course book shop
- Make a shopping list for your food, check what food you have that needs using before you shop and plan meals around this
- Resist the sales and expensive treats. Only buy what you really need to help stretch your budget further
- Set up a weekly balance alert for your bank account. This will show you how much money you have left and will make you more accountable
There are all kinds of discounts available to students, so keep an eye open. These might be discounts for cafes, retail shops or things like cinemas and museums. You don’t have to use all of the discounts but its handy to have a discount for something you need.