Living life as a university student can be fun, spontaneous, and relieving, but that's without the haunting thought of whether you will be able to afford it or not. Learning to budget is a useful tool that you can master by following a few tips.
Many students start university life without much experience on how to plan their grocery shop or how to deal with utility bills, which is all very understandable. Continue to read on to get a better understanding of getting both the 'university' and 'uni' experience.
Firstly, you must look into your spending habits and analyse what you are regularly spending your money on. This will help you during the next step. As a student, spending your money spontaneously happens quite often, and therefore, having a weekly or monthly look-through on what you are spending your money most on can help you make more mindful decisions, especially when it comes to last-minute plans.
Planning is the next step. It will allow you to understand how you can use and spend your money. This does not mean you have to plan a month ahead all the nights out or fun activities you will be doing! But this will help you know your spending limits.
Firstly, I would recommend having a designated area for laying out your budgeting plan. Whether that be written out in a diary or on your laptop. This will make sure everything is in one place for you to go back to.
Set out a rough budget for the week or month, depending on how much you get from your student loan and/or your part-time job. Next is to have different subheadings for different categories. For instance, one for groceries, another for hygiene/health care items, one for nights out, and others. Then calculate how much money you have left over which you can dip into if you overspend in one category.
Another useful tip is the use of different bank accounts. The option of getting a student bank account is available right before you start your first year, and this is recommended as you can get benefits such as interest-free overdrafts. It is a good option to have in case of an emergency. Although, try not to rely on it too much though as it is very easy to overspend.
If you are finding yourself going into your overdrafts often, try setting a limit so that you do not get carried away and end up using it all up.
Having two different bank accounts is also an effective way of keeping track of your money. I, myself have two different bank accounts, one for keeping track of my payments and bills and another for my own spending, such as nights out and buying clothes. This way, I know what money can be used for certain things.
This is quite an obvious one. Getting a part-time job is an easy option depending on your time availability. However, you can do this based on your convenience. Some people find it difficult to balance university work and a part-time job, and that is why getting a summer job is a great option. This is because many students have a lot of time to spare and use it to earn money for the next academic year.
Although, if you find that you can manage your time and work around your university timetable, you can get a part-time job that does not require you to do so many hours. An event steward is an example of a job that does not require to have set working days.
The transition from home life to university life, in terms of food, is another story. You go from the comfort of your own home where food is already bought and prepared for you to university where you have to do everything from scratch.
Getting takeaways and going to restaurants is tempting when at university as it does not require any effort. However, it can add up very quickly at the end of each month.
A recommendation is to plan. Planning is key here. Think of four or five of your go-to meals and do a weekly shop. This requires effort but eventually, it will become a habit and will pay off in the long term.
Having mentioned bank accounts, part-time jobs, and food, this can all be incorporated into your budgeting plan.
By using a budgeting plan, you can maximise your student experience. We all love going out and who knows, you might be able to save enough money on the side to be able to go to Bali!