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Budgeting for University Students

A guide to getting the maximum out of your money as a student

Leaving home to go to university in a completely new city is hard enough with all the new experiences that come with it. Having to make new friends, a new place to live, adapting to not seeing your home friends and family, all while settling into university where you're possibly studying something you've never studied before. Along with all of this, this is the first time for many that people become financially independent.

The current cost of living crisis is affecting all of the UK population in one way or another. Bills are at an all-time high, fuel prices have increased and food prices have also gone up. These all directly affect students. With these increases, student loans have not increased therefore students today need to be more careful and savvier with their money.

The Four Principles of Finance are extremely helpful when it comes to maintaining finance.

  1. Income: Maximizing the amount of income you receive seems obvious but not everybody realises the ways to do so. The obvious first thought is to have a job with steady income. However, at university it is understood that many do not have jobs and this can cause others to not get one in order to not miss out. This is completely understandable. The holidays for a university student are long, especially the summer spanning from May to September. Use this time to work at home so that when you go back to university at the start of term you've used your time off wisely. Check if you're eligible for grants and extra loan money - this money is set out for certain people for a reason.

  2. Savings: Savings are essential for ensuring you have the right amount of money at the right time. Create another account in your bank to add rent to or extra money you receive. You never know when you may need this extra money or, even better, may have it at the end of the year to go towards a holiday or festival. The rent money is absolutely necessary as rent due dates come up quickly and are usually a significant amount for university students.

  3. Spending: Try and work out a suitable amount to roughly spend each week that is relative to the money you receive. This can be hard to stick to with each week having different agendas but if you overspend one week just make sure you're more careful the next week. This is essential to ensure you can get to the end of term without ending your loan money too early on.

  4. Investing: This is not relevant for students

At university it becomes clear that there can be divide between the amount of money some people have compared to the amount others have. This comes down to student loan amounts, different people's rent amount, if student's parents give them money and jobs. This is normal as you will go through life surrounded by people that have more money than you but also people that have less money than you. If you surround yourself with people that are considerate and caring they will. understand if one week maybe you don't want to go out and possibly want to try some cheaper activities when money is tight.

Here are some budgeting tips that can help along the way:

  • Try and go to the cheapest supermarket you can and meal plan your weeks. This ensures that you're getting the most for your money, not wasting food and also getting a balanced diet.

  • Plan when you go home and buy train/ coach tickets in advance: usually the earlier transport tickets are bought the cheaper they are so by buying them early you can save. Even if this is only a couple pounds here and there it helps.

  • Set yourself a weekly allowance

  • Put rent/ bills money into a separate account as soon as you receive it

  • Work as much as you can during the holidays

  • When looking for second year house: aim for a house where the rent includes all bills therefore you won't have to worry about this cost being on top

  • Avoid going to the shop for random things as you will end up spending more than you think

  • Always aim to have money leftover - not spend every penny - spend below your means not to and especially not above

  • Make use of the university cafe's, bars and clubs that offer student discounts and will also be a good place to meet new people in similar situations

Don't let money get you down during university. Obviously, it is so important to be sensible, but money always comes back - memories don't. Some weeks you will overspend but then other weeks, for example during exam season, you may massively underspend based on your weekly budget that you set yourself.

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