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Realities of Student Budgeting

Being a university student is the licence to a trial period in adulting. With the acceptance letter from your university, comes the invisible terms and conditions for self financing, sustaining and socialising.

When I started university, it was the first time I was ever responsible for money, the first time I did not have to ask my mother for the exact amount of money something cost to simply take from her purse to the till. I was overwhelmed, and scared every time I saw an alert from my bank notifying me of a transfer. Being an international student, who consistently converted it back to home currency did not help the anxiety.

But a year and 6 months later, I am proud of the progress I have made with money and my relationship with it. After a lot of trial and error, there are few methods I use and swear by to save my money and spend it responsibly.

How do you manage your money?

Managing money starts with being cautious of your spending and outgoings. Any unnecessary spending on your bank statement at the end of the month can be alarming to see. We will discover a few ways in which these outgoings can be better controlled and monitored.

1. Goal setting

Goal setting, although simple, is a very effective method to make sure you do not overspend on things you did not need. Goals can be as simple as “spend less than last week’ or ‘keep spending under 40 pounds this week”. I struggled with sticking to my goals, especially the time closer to pay day. The other methods help to negate the effects of seeing that surplus amount of money in your bank account.

2. Setting weekly spending allowances

The way you would get weekly allowances form your parents and spend it on lollies or save it for a bigger purchase a little later. Setting weekly allowances for yourself is similar to that, but you give yourself these weekly allowances and you can monitor that by using various different apps.

Technology has made everything easier, including budgeting. Apps like Starling Bank and Monzo will group all of your purchases into categories (food, entertainment, etc.), and send you real-time push notifications if you are heading over your budget in any area. So you can limit your spending while still having the opportunity to spend on any emergencies, if one was to arise.

3. Segmenting your purchases

Creating a spreadsheet can help you limit your purchases. It will help you understand your spending patterns a little better, which is the first step to restraint. If food was your largest spend in one week, but clothes were your biggest purchase the next one, you can make amendments to them as needed.

A more efficient way to make sure your spending on all your purchases is within the range you set yourself, is by using technology once again. It is easy, efficient and quick to make.

4. Giving yourself a reward scheme for sticking to your budget

I have noticed that I am more likely to refrain from making an impulse purchase if there is another incentive for me apart from having a healthy bank balance. Setting yourself a little amount of money to spend on a reward if you stick to your budget the whole week, tends to give you the extra motivation to stop picking up that extra pack of gum at the till.

5. Looking out of student discounts

Technology comes into the picture again as there are multiple apps like Unidays and Honey that highlight various discounts for students. This way you can optimise your spending, by reducing the amount you spend on things you need to buy as well.

We have discussed ways in which you can control your outgoings. However, budgeting can become easier by calculating incomes as well. If you are actively working to make income, things can be easier. There are also ways to passively make money on the side. Given the nature of time and the fact that university students do not usually have the luxury of it, some easy and fast ways to increase your passive income can be found through the link.

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