You’ve got your student loan payments, but it seems barely enough to cover your rental costs. What about food? Phone bill? Entertainment money? Utilities if you’re living off campus? How can you afford to keep your head above the water financially at university? Following these simple student budgeting tips will help you manage your money during your first year at university.
The best way to do this is by forming good habits during your first year that will stick with you for the remainder of your time. Creating a student budget, and sticking with it, isn’t always easy, but don’t worry. Read on for some great advice.
Track Your Outgoings
A spreadsheet is all you will need to properly track your outgoings along with your income. People often overlook so many expenses because they were only a few pounds here and there, but these little outgoings soon add up.
Keeping track of exactly how much you’re spending immediately makes you more conscious of your choices, and you’re far less inclined to mindlessly spend. Also, seeing your outgoings compared to your income helps you put into perspective exactly what you can and can’t afford. Using a budgeting app can help make this easier.
Plan Your Bills
The most crucial outgoing you will have are your bills. Rent, mobile phone, water, electricity, internet, and so on are your priority. Especially rent. If you are on campus many of these will be included in your rent, but living off campus they will be separate. Know exactly how much each of your bills cost and when they are due. Being late on any type of bill can lead to fees which, in turn, puts more strain on your budget. Set aside money for your bills each month and ensure you are never late with the payment.
Security tip: It’s important to note that you should always use a VPN when paying your bills online. What is a VPN? A VPN is a private network that keeps your personal information secure when using the internet. Paying bills online while using a VPN will keep your banking information and other data completely secure.
Buy Needs Not Wants
Most students will experience money problems during their university years. Living off cheap food, off-brand drinks, and second-hand clothes are part of the experience. So, as much as it would be more enjoyable to have more money, the reality is a world apart.
Because of this, luxuries, even lower-end luxuries, are sometimes off the table. Before you buy something, ask yourself if you need it or if you just want it. Cut out the wants, only buy the needs, and you should always be left with a little extra money when you need it.
Less Takeaway Food
Unless someone else is paying, it’s best to avoid all kinds of takeaway food while at university. We know students love to live on takeaways, but reducing the amount you rely on them will definitely help. The cost to reward ratio is simply not worth it. For the price of one takeout meal, you could buy several days’ worth of groceries or toiletries.
Write up a meal plan and shopping list at the start of each week and rid yourself of the temptation of ordering in because you haven’t got the right food in your house already.
Subscriptions are everywhere. Music, food, fitness, online storage, TV shows, books, and more. You name it, you can buy a monthly subscription for it. But like those odd expenses we touched on earlier, these subscriptions can soon add up.
For example, you only need to pay for an account with Spotify, Netflix, and Google Photos, and you could be spending upwards of £300+ a year. Don’t tie your finances up in subscription services when your money can go to much better use.
Choose the Cheaper Option
This may sound obvious, but for many people, they continue to buy the brands and live the lifestyle they were used to before university. Buy unbranded soap, toilet paper, and other toiletries. The same goes for food. With transport, try to walk or catch the bus instead of taking an Uber. Always go for the cheaper option as often as possible.
Being thrust into university life comes with a range of challenges, with budgeting being one of the first you will face. However, getting into good habits and being aware of your expenses can greatly help you plan your finances during your first year and cut out a lot of potential stress.