Volunteer, Meg Jocson Ong, brings us into the New Year with tips on how you can keep an eye on what you spend this year, while still having fun.
The first few months of university can be challenging, especially when you have to start acting like an adult and learn to manage your own expenses. Through experience, I have 7 tips to help you get through the big hurdle that is the student budget!
1. List out your monthly expenses
Expenses like your phone bill and rent are easy to tackle, but your shopping allowance and ‘extras’ can be a little unpredictable. Something I learned the hard way was setting a budget for myself on how much I should, and can, spend on nights out. This way, you won’t let loose so easily when having fun. However, being on a student budget doesn’t mean you should cut out everything. One just needs to be mindful of his or her expenses.
2. Don’t be scared to check your balance
Make time and learn to check your account balance. I’m sure we’ve all been there – where you tell yourself that “it’s just £3”, and the next thing you know, you have £15 left. Again, I’m not saying you should stop buying things you don’t need, but just think twice about how much you’ll use it and be realistic!
3. Use your loyalty cards
The points you collect from shops like Tesco and Boots can be used as store credit or ‘cash’ (if you collect enough) to buy things you need. Another card you should have with you at all times is your student ID, you can get good discounts with them! Most stores offer student discounts, so you never know when they will come in handy!
4. Avoid the discount trap
Don’t be fooled by the big red SALE sign outside the window. 20% off shouldn’t be the reason you’re buying the item. Only when it’s 50% or more should you consider; even then, think about how much you really need that item. Unnecessary buys dent budgets!
5. Eat in instead of take-out
This has to be one of the simplest tips to follow. Turn your weekend trips to the restaurant into a nice home cooked meal with your flatmates where you can all pitch in on the cooking. You save overall on your dinner and can use the leftovers as meals throughout the week.
6. Get sustainable and high-quality clothing
Avoid unnecessary shopping of clothes by not falling for the fashion trends. Besides, classic and basic clothing will always be timeless – especially with good quality. In my first year I bought sustainable, high-quality trousers and tops; I’m now on placement and I am still using them! You may spend more now, but you’ll save later!
7. Utilise your university’s resources
One mistake I made in my first year was buy a brand new Spanish textbook, costing a hefty £35! I only used it for 3 months and found out after the module that there were 5 unborrowed copies in the library for free. Make sure you use the library! While it’s there for you to study in, it also keeps the widest reading resource materials.
Being on a student budget doesn’t mean you can’t live a little. It’s there in the title – budget. I think being on a student budget is one of the first few steps towards adulthood and the responsibility that comes along with it. Just find a good balance between needs and wants. YOU CAN DO IT!
Featured image by: Amie Woodyatt