When my student loan first came through I was overwhelmed, but remember this money has to last all term so resist the temptation to go on a spending spree
The key is planning, you need to plan out your money otherwise you may find you run out before the term has finished!
I sat down and did a bit of maths to work out a weekly budget for myself. I divided the amount I had for the first term by the amount of weeks I was going to be at uni for. I then had my weekly budget to stick to, or try to anyway! What I found is that I would never spend exactly that figure every week. There will be weeks you spend more and others you spend less. It is not the end of the world if you go over budget one week because you needed to buy some supplies for university or you have a big night out. As long as there are some weeks that you are under budget and it balances out. Because the amount of Maintenance Loan depends on your parents’ income, everyone will start with different amounts of money, but whether you have a large or tight budget, planning your weekly or monthly spend will help massively.
Before university I had no awareness of budgeting I kind of just spent money when I needed to and didn’t really think about it. I also didn’t know how much things costed, of course I knew what they cost but what I didn’t have a full understanding of is how much it builds up. There is a difference between buying the odd meal from the shop and doing a full weekly shop. Now after my first term I am a lot more aware of these things.
I found it helpful to write down how much money I was spending and what on. For example, jotting down that my food shop was £20 or that I topped up my printing credit by £5 at the end of the day. It really helps you keep track of how much you’ve spent each week and if you go over budget one week you can deduct it from your spending money for the following week and so on. In the same way, if you are under you have extra money for another week maybe even treat yourself with it.
You can also see where your money has gone, which can help with future budgeting and where maybe to cut down on your spending if you are like me and tend to spend a little too much sometimes. I know this sounds excessive and time consuming but it actually takes very little time and I found that it cleared my head of money worries.
It can even be done as a notes folder on your phone. You don’t have to write it all down but a few notes on your phone here and there could help you out. I may not need to do this in future but in my first term, with no clue how to budget it helped a lot!