There’s always a lot to think about when you first start university: what societies to join, where your lectures are, but sorting out your budget should be one of your top priorities.
Knowing what you have to spend each week not only helps to ensure you don’t end up in unnecessary debt, but ultimately means you’re more likely to have a better time while at uni as you won’t be constantly stressed with worries about money. Your basic budget is as simple as listing all the money you’ve got coming in, tracking how much you spend, and seeing whether they balance out or not.
How to work out your weekly budget:
Sorting out your budget needs to be the first thing you do; yes, it sounds really boring but having enough money will make or break your time at uni. It seems like you have loads of cash to splash in freshers’ week but in reality, most of us don’t – that money from your student loan has to last you THE WHOLE TERM so spend it wisely! There are three simple steps to working out a budget:
- Look at how much money you have coming in
e.g. student loan, parental contributions, part-time work, bursaries and awards etc.
- Work out how much money you have going out
e.g. food, bills, mobile phone, travel, going out, hobbies etc.
- Subtract your outgoings from your income and divide by the number of weeks in the term. This will give you a rough estimate of how much you’ll have week by week.
Top tips to make your money spread further:
There are a lot of things at the beginning of the year that can catch you by surprise and you do seem to pay for everything all at once. I found myself closer to the end of my first loan than intended after paying for a gym membership, societies memberships, going out on socials and not keeping track. Here are a few tips to help you keep an eye on what you’re spending, and to make your money stretch further.
- Ask yourself: Do you need this? Do you want this? Spend your money on what you need first and save the ‘wants’ for special occasions.
- Give yourself a set allowance for each spending area, such as going out or food shopping and then stick to it! If you’ve under-spent, you can carry that over to the next month or supplement another area.
- If you really struggle with daily spending, take a set amount of cash out at the beginning of the week and use that instead of a card. Physically seeing your money decrease is enough to put anyone off spending it!
- Planning ahead can do wonders for your bank balance. Knowing you’ll be spending £10 extra one week allows you to take it into account for the future.
- Consider getting a part-time job or casual work to earn some extra dollar during the term or in the holidays. An extra 8+ hours a week of work can make a big difference to the numbers in your bank account.
- Make a shopping list and try to shop weekly, not daily, as this can reduce your spending. Compare the prices and offers in the supermarket and think about the long-term; have a store of rice and pasta and general, useful foods in your cupboard.
- Make the most of student discounts! There are so many places and services that offer student rates now so be sure to take that student card with you everywhere and make the most of it. But don’t use this as a reason to spend money on things that you don’t really need.
- Be your own person. It doesn’t matter how much money your friends are making or spending – stick to your own budget, keep to what you can afford and be awesome.
No matter what, there is always someone available to help. If you’re struggling with managing your money, don’t hesitate to chat to The Advice Centre on campus, your personal tutor or Student Services.