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Money Matters: How to Live the Student Life on a Budget

Tips and tricks to make your money go further while living on a student budget.

budgeting and saving money as a student

University years are set to be some of the best years of your life, so don't spend it worrying about money....

"82% of students said they worry about making ends meet." -National Student Money Survey 2022

Moving to university is a big change and comes with a lot of new responsibilities and independence. Managing your finances and maintaining the balance of a busy social life and essentials such as rent for accommodation and food can be difficult as many of us have not had to do this before. As well as this, the rise in cost of living has made it even more critical for students to make their money go further. It can be scary and daunting at first but by following these simple tips and tricks it can be a lot easier to manage.

Set a budget

First things first, you should set a realistic budget. This is essential for tracking how you are spending your money and working out where it is all going. It can really help you crack down on potentially dangerous carefree spending habits which you may have gotten used to before moving to University. Work out how much money you roughly have each month, and break it down into different areas of outgoings and then into a weekly allowance.

Prioritise essential expenses such as rent, bills, groceries and transport and take this cost away from your monthly income and whatever you have left can be spent on non-essential expenses such as nights-out, takeaways, gym memberships and new clothes.

Ways to save on your food shop

Doing your own food shop can be a shock for many students and can take up a huge chunk of their weekly budgets, here are some tips to help keep the costs down.

Plan meals in advance

Before actually going to the supermarket, take time to plan out meals you will have in the week and list the ingredients you will need for those specific meals. Make sure you are checking and taking stock of what food you already have in your cupboards! This can prevent impulse buying and unnecessary purchases that may go to waste. Buying ingredients in bulk and cooking multiple portions (to store in the freezer) can not only help minimise food wastage but also saves time and effort for busy or just lazy days when you don't feel like cooking (but prevents a takeaway!).

Sign up to supermarket loyalty cards

Majority of supermarkets have loyalty schemes such as Tesco's Clubcard, MyMorrsions and Lidls App. These can give you access to exclusive discounts and offers and are easy and straightforward to sign up to and use.

Change up your shopping habits

Changing up your grocery shopping list can not only be a fun way of trying new things and recipes but also a great way to save money. This can be done by looking out for whats on special offer each week in the shops, making the switch to frozen over fresh fruit and vegetables can save a lot of money without compromising on quality or the benefits they provide. One of the most expensive elements of a meal can be the protein, particularly meat so a way to save money is by replacing this a couple times a week with an alternative veggie source such as Quorn products.

Make the most out of student deals

A massive benefit to being student is the exclusive offers and discounts you can get! By registering with websites such as Unidays and StudentBeans means you get access to hundreds of brands offering discount codes and deals for money off ranging from clothes, technology, food and drink and leisure. This means you can still enjoy spending money on the non-essential expenses without the guilt. As well as these websites a lot of stores offer student discount but just may not advertise it as much so it is always worth asking.

Making the most of student nights is also a must for enjoying cheaper nights and saving money. Keep up to date with your university's student nights out and local bars and club deals as they will often have special offers for extremely cheap drinks.

Too Good To Go isn't just for students but can be a goldmine for students who are craving a takeaway or just something a bit different. Too good to go sells unsold surplus food from some of your favourite restaurants and shops for an extremely discounted price, its a bit of a gamble on what you may get but a great way to get good for a low cost and also help on food wastage.

Part-Time work

Following these tips and tricks can really help you make your money go further but sometimes it may not be enough to support all of the potential non-essential expenses you may want. Many students worry about getting a part-time job while being at university but it can actually bring so many positives. It can be an amazing way to meet new people and broaden your social circles. Obviously you should prioritise your studies but fitting in a few hours each week can provide you with the extra income you need to support your hobbies or habits you don't want to compromise on as well as providing you with great real world experiences!

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