Are you currently studying? What’s your financial situation like? Lots of people struggle to survive on a budget when they realise that as students they suddenly have the freedom to do whatever they want. Ironically, this is one of the most important times for you to maintain control of your spending. Personal finance while studying can be tough, especially when you have no or limited income. But, there are many things that you can do as a student to ensure that you spend your time at university in comfort and having fun, without living beyond your means.
While this is often overlooked, sorting out your finances early on in the process is essential. We have put together a few tips to help you out:
1. Start Saving Money
It might seem like a straightforward and simple solution, but it can be extremely useful. If you start saving money little by little, you can be sure that you will never run out of money by the end of the month. What’s good about saving money is that it’s quite easy to do. I would suggest saving all your coins and deposit them either into a savings account at a bank or your piggy bank - if you think this can help you manage your money better. The ability to save is one of the most essential skills to becoming financially secure and independent.
2. Choose to Eat In
A home cooked meal is far more economical than ordering in. When you have classes to attend at university, it may seem like an easy option to go to the nearest fast food restaurant, take a lunch break and enjoy your favourite meal, but this often comes at a steep price. Even if the cheapest burger costs £5 pounds if this is something that you do every day it can cost you a fortune every month, and you don’t want to spend all of your money on food. Apart from that, cooking and eating in is a healthier option than junk food. So if you want to minimise your expenses, prepare your meals in advance and take them with you.
3. Plan Your Weekly Budget
You can’t manage your finances effectively unless you have a proper plan in place for how to spend your money on a weekly or daily basis if that suits you better. You can make sure that you won’t get off the budget and that you are financially secure by the end of the month. Let’s say that you decide to spend roughly about £10 pounds per day; you need to ensure that you stick to that except for certain expenses such as nights out and bulk food shopping.
4. Travel Smarter
If you live far away from the university, the best transportation solution for you would be to take the train or the bus. Driving a car might come in handy but it may be more expensive for you because of petrol costs. But, if you are sharing a car with friends or classmates, then the travelling expenses are a lot less. As a student you could also get a discount on your transportation fees with a rail card that gets you up to a third off rail fares.
5. Get a Part-Time Job
Studying and working at the same time may be demanding, but it can definitely help you earn some money on the side. If you are paying rent and don’t have a part time job or parents to help you out, you will need to make up for those expenses with a part-time job. Getting a job while you are at the university is not a bad idea, but you need to make sure that it doesn’t interfere with your studies in any way. You could work as a cashier at the nearest coffee shop, a barista or even become a tutor for your subject.
6. Get Some Help
If you are struggling with your finances, you can always ask for advice. You can talk to a student advisor about it, and he/she can tell you how to manage your money effectively. The best way to go about it is to ask about available student banking, overdraft interest rates and charges and get information on the kind of student loans they offer. Lots of students are struggling with their finances, and you definitely aren’t the first person seeking guidance.
7. Avoid Unnecessary Expenses
While it makes perfect sense to stay away from anything that shines – that is probably more pricey than your wallet can handle, it’s easy to fall into the trap of overspending. The problem is that you end up wasting money on things that you don’t even need and making unnecessary expenses. If you are enjoying a luxurious lifestyle, smoking or living in private accommodation that costs a fortune, you are only making things difficult for yourself. Perhaps it’s better to share a flat with a friend, share a launderette load with a flatmate and sort out all your expenses in advance.
8. Calculate Your Expenses
Make sure that you collect the receipts that you get from the stores you go to and make a monthly calculation on how much you are spending. This should help you keep an eye on your expenses so that you avoid going over budget. It might also be a good idea to get down to work while thinking about your income and expenses. It’s important to write down all of the details even your library charges, food expenses and what you spend on academic materials such as books etc. Having this information in one place like Google sheets or Microsoft Excel can be a lifesaver.
9. Get Discounts
Apart from getting transportation discount fees, you can also get discounts on haircuts, clothes, food vouchers, student deals at restaurants, cinemas, nightclubs and lots of others places. You can present your student card at the till and inform cashiers that you are a student. Since you can’t get a discount at every shop you go to, you can ask at the student’s union to find out what retailers you can get discounts at.
10. Stay Home
The easiest and cheapest way to save money is to stay in. While this doesn’t mean that you need to cut off your entertainment, social gatherings and night outs completely, sometimes you may need to in order to avoid using all of your savings. Besides, staying in isn’t that bad, you can cook and invite friends around or watch a movie. If this is not your thing, don’t worry you don’t have to do it every day, only during financial emergencies.
Living on a budget can be difficult, especially as a student, but as you can see there are many things that you can do to make sure that you can live comfortably and still have a good time at university! Planning your finances well in advance can help you handle any problems that arise along the way and be financially prepared to take action.
Have you ever had to live on a budget while studying? What was the most challenging part for you? Let us know in the comments section below…