Welcome to student money week. We hope you’re getting involved in the discussions and finding out lots of useful information. To kick us off our BA (Hons) English with Creative Writing graduate Olivia shares her top tips for student budgeting…
Receiving a loan and funding at the start of each term can fill you with the temptation to run out to the shops and blow it all. But hold your horses – that money needs to last. Creating a budget and saving where you can is a great way to keep you on track. Here are a few of my top tips!
add up your income – to start your budget, add up your income for the term. Factor in your student loan, any grants/bursaries, any money from your parents or guardians, income from a job, and any savings that you’re not keeping for after your course.
take off the essential outgoings – subtract your rent, any household bills, contents insurance, any travel or car costs, your phone bill and an estimate for food shopping. This will give you a rough figure of how much you will be able to spend each month on things like books or equipment for your course, household supplies and toiletries, or more fun things like social activities and clothes.
try tracking your spends – the more you check what’s going on with your business, the more in control you’ll be. By snooping on how you spend, you’ll be able to quickly see where you need to cut down... and you'll become much savvier to offers or cheaper alternatives. Make use of online banking and any free apps your bank offers – it’s really easy to log in securely to keep on top of your account.
find out what you can get for free – as a student, there are a few things that you don’t have to pay for, like Council Tax if you live in a student house. If you’re not sure about what else is available for free, you can speak to someone in the Students’ Union or your university's student services department. It's also a great idea to visit a Freshers' day time event, where you will be inundated with freebies.
shop smart – you can save a lot of money by purchasing an NUS card. Although it costs to buy, the card pays for itself in the money it saves you when shopping from high street stores, big name brands and restaurants. If you don’t fancy buying a card, you can always sign up to UNiDAYS, or make the most of special offers and value brands. Plenty of places may also have special student discounts, so be sure to keep your student ID handy at all times and don’t be afraid to ask.
generate some passive income – there’s so many ways that you can bring in that extra little bit of income, especially if you have something you’re passionate about. Say you’re into illustrating, you could print greetings cards and sell them online. Maybe you’re a camera buff – you could sell photos to stock content sites. If you enjoy writing, try your hand at publishing short eBooks. While these things won’t make you millions, they don’t tie you to regular hours and if it’s something you enjoy, is it even really work?
If you aren’t used to budgeting, it won’t be all that fun to start with when you have to stop those regular coffee runs or when you have to walk to uni in the rain to save your bus fare. But once you’ve nailed budgeting, you’ll be so clued up about making your money go further – and you’ll be one step ahead of the game once you’re earning big numbers in a graduate job.
Pop back later this week for more budgeting tips!
Find out which colleges are sending invitations