Coming to university can be a shock to the system – especially financially.
You’re suddenly paying for things you never had to before and you’re starting to realise the thousand of pounds you get from your student loan is actually spread across 3 instalments and most of it needs to be used for things like rent, food and travel.
My first tip would be to start tracking your spending. Yes, it’s boring, but better that than be stuck with no money for most of the term waiting for the next finance injection.
Create a spreadsheet with all your forms of income like your student finance, part time jobs, scholarships, etc. And then add in all your important out goings like rent, food, etc. And then you’ll have a rough whereabouts of your financial situation.
Now you just need to limit yourself, so you don’t go overboard – keep checking your balance using your bank’s mobile app to control yourself. Arrange an interest free overdraft with your bank so you can have a back-up if things don’t go to plan.
To try and reduce your spending my second tip would be to be smart with your food shopping. It is most likely going to be your second biggest outgoing after rent and since you can’t reduce your rent, we’ll start here.
Buy supermarket value products instead of the well-known brands, go to cheaper supermarkets like Lidl and Aldi and go at the end of the day when many items are discounted. Try and buy things you regularly have in bulk, avoid buying things you usually never finish and end up throwing away, or find someone to share them with and split the cost. Meal prep for the week and do a big shop so you have everything you need to avoid going hungry and running out of food and going “I’ll just get a takeaway this once” when we know it won’t be just that once.
Make sure to take advantage of student discounts. Students are given so many discounts across so many stores – if they’re not advertised, ask. Get even more discounts by getting a NUS card and try and plan your life around these discounts – shop from the places with the best discounts and take advantage!
My fourth tip would be to take advantage of friends and family – cook with your housemates to split the cost of meals between you all and find budget friendly recipes online. Tell your parents to come over and see you – most likely you’ll get at least a free meal or some cheeky money after talking about your financial situation 😉
My final tip would be to just be smart about your spending! If you’re going out and know you don’t need any money – don’t bring any, so even if you’re tempted to spend, you can’t! Never buy the £5 coffee, buy things secondhand from charity shops or even free from things like Freecycle!
Don’t waste money on things you don’t need! But be realistic, we’re all weak and want to treat ourselves so I think the best way is to consider when you want something, is to wait a few weeks and if you’re still thinking about it – treat yourself! If you’ve forgotten, let go!