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Top Tips to Budget as a Student

How to maximise your spending potential throughout university and beyond

A problem affecting University students over the years, and now more than ever before is how to maximise your budget. With rising costs of living, competitive job markets and inadequate student finance all combining to make student life as hard as ever.

Why students are struggling with their budget

Students nowadays are offered little financial support. The calculations of the maintenance loan from Student Finance England takes into account a number of different factors. The main inputs are the area a student is currently living in and their combined household income. This leaves many students underfunded as their parents may not be able to support them even if they are both employed. So what are the ways that a student can make the most of their university experience on a budget?

How to maximise your budget

There are many options available for students to aid their journey through university. Most universities have an employability team who can help students get part time jobs, whether that be in the university itself or an external part time job such as a bar job or in retail. It is surprising how far the income gained from a part time job can go from something as little as six hours per week, with many jobs offering more hours than this. Students have more spare time than the initially anticipate during the first year of their course in most cases and therefore finding a part-time job with flexible hours is a very useful way of increasing their budget.

A food shop is something that will be new for many students when they first go to university. A full cupboard and fridge is something most take for granted when living at home, however they soon realise how convenient it was to have a full snack supply. Most students who live in a city centre will not have an affordable supermarket in walking distance, so it is a good idea to familiarise themselves with the local public transport network. A bus trip to a cheaper supermarket, such as Aldi or Lidl, will stretch a students budget far more than if they go to a local, more convenient alternative. According to Which? the cheapest supermarket in 2023 for the average weekly shop is Aldi, which saves an average of over £10 per week when compared to shopping at one of the traditional 'big 4'.

To further maximise the savings made by going to a more affordable supermarket, a student should also make a clear list of everything they need from that shop. A clear plan for meals is going to save time and money as many people make the mistake of shopping for food when hungry and end up buying more than they actually need. Looking for products in shops that are reduced is a great way of reducing costs while still enjoying tasty, nutritious meals. Buying large portions of raw ingredients can save money as multiple portions of the same meal can be made to either share with a flatmate or to eat another day.

However, most students will not eat in every night. Many go to pubs, bars and restaurants to socialise which can end up putting a major hole in the budget. Finding places that do deals during certain time periods is a great way to enjoy drinks and food while not splashing out too much. Many bars, particularly those in student areas, will offer a deal, whether it be happy hour, discounting certain drinks on different days or offering a 2-4-1 deal on selected drinks. Spotting these deals can be key to enjoying a night out, while also not breaking the bank. It is tougher to find restaurants and food spots that offer these sorts of discounts, however they are more likely to offer a general student discount when presented with a valid student ID. Even if it is not advertised, it is often worth enquiring about a student discount which can be up to 50% in certain places. A third party tool that is great for students wanting takeaway food on a budget is the Too Good To Go app. This app allows people to reserve bags of food that would otherwise get thrown away. Due to their being less choice with this, the food is much cheaper, sometimes even a 80% discount depending on the place. It is also for a good cause as food waste has become a large issue in the UK and this app is aiming to reduce that waste while also offering people more affordable food.

Students face more challenges now than ever before, including many that they are powerless to control. Rising energy bills, along with lacklustre financial support from the government have left many in a poor and uncertain position. However, there are ways to maximise the budget that a student is left with. The above advice does not need to be constantly adhered to in order to have an effect. The most important thing for a student is to make the most of their time at university, even if that means exceeding their budget every now and then.

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