So you have your student loan and any maintenance grant you may have been given. How are you going to make sure you don’t spend it all at once? To help you out, here are some simple ideas on how to manage your money and cut your everyday household costs and living expenses.
Work out what weekly budget you need to cover all your bills and outgoings. Once you have your worked this out, try and keep a record of the money you spend and what you spend it on.
It is very easy to suddenly find that you have spent more than you thought – a coffee here or a chocolate bar there, that you use loose change for and suddenly you’ve spend £10 without realising it. At least to begin with, while you are getting used to managing your money, keep a record of everything you spend and what you spend it on so you can clearly see how your money is going. This will help you, if you do find you are getting in to difficulty, to identify where you can cut down your expenses. Regularly check your bank balance and statements – banks do make mistakes sometimes!
Ways of saving money
Whether you need to cut down your expenses or you are just looking at ways to manage your money more efficiently, identifying ways you can reduce your expenses is always a useful exercise. If you do not think carefully about the things you are spending your money on, your outgoings can easily escalate.
Here are some simple tips to get you started:
Get yourself an NUS card – it entitles you to discounts in lots of places and can save you a substantial amount of money over the year. We have lots of student discounts and special offers on our website so remember to check here before you buy or sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date.
- Buying your food in big supermarkets is usually cheaper than in a mini market
- Ready prepared meals are more expensive than fresh ingredients which you prepare yourself
- Meat can be expensive. Try to eat vegetarian a few times a week.
- Freeze whatever leftovers you may have for another day
- Do not over buy in one go, as you may find you end up throwing things away which have passed their best before date
- Plan ahead – decide what you are planning on cooking for a few days in advance. It is easy to come home from college, starving hungry and grab a take away or ready prepared meal because it’s quick and easy but it can also become expensive
- Cook with friends – it is cheaper than cooking for one
- Look for discounts, money off vouchers and special offers – they soon add up
- Get a loyalty card from your local supermarket
- Make sure you take advantage of all travel cards or student rates.
- Household Bills
- Your parents have been telling you these things for years, but now is the time to take notice!
- Turn off the lights if you’re not in the room.
- Don’t leave your electrical items on standby over night.
- Whenever possible, hang your clothes out to dry instead of using the tumble dryer
- Don’t put the dishwasher on if it’s not full
- Do your washing on 40C unless you’re trying to wash out stains. Do the washing when you have a full load
- Have showers instead of baths
- Make sure your heating isn’t on while you are all out at college
- Block up draughts from badly fitted windows and doors. Don’t waste money heating the street!
- Look out for cheap entry to cinemas and clubs
- Discount vouchers are readily available for many high street restaurant chains. Sign up for email alerts with your favourite restaurants and you will receive all their latest offers
- Sign up to money back sites that give you rewards for buying the things you would buy anyway, such as TopCashback or SwagBucks
- Many clubs have student nights when the drinks are cheaper than usual
- Many clothes shops do offer student discounts. Make sure you check before you buy and use that NUS card!
- Buying clothes from charity shops can become a creative challenge. You can often find some very nice things in charity shops that have hardly even been worn if you are determined and have the patience to sort through. A good wash and you have yourself a bargain.
You will be a given a list of recommended reading when you first start your course, but before you rush out and spend loads of money on books, check with students from other years. Maybe they have one they don’t want any more or didn’t find it useful and can advise you which ones are worth buying. There are often second hand books sales on campus or you can find the books you want on sites such as www.abebooks.co.uk. Check out our article on the different places you can buy your books and save money.
Don’t forget the good old fashioned library too, although popular textbooks can sometimes be hard to find unless you get in quick!