A Fresher’s guide to finances and budgeting
Are you worried about how the cost of living crisis might affect your student experience? Music Editor Mahnoor Imam shares her money-saving tips for university students.
With the start of a new academic year and the current cost of living crisis, there’s all the more need to be smart about your finances – particularly for university students who need to keep to a specific budget without having a steady income. Use this article to plan your budget for this year and make sure that you’re on track to have a worry-free university experience, at least on the financial side!
Categorise your budget! Split your financing into separate sections such as rent and utilities, transport (bus, coach, rail journeys or Ubers), grocery, course materials (such as stationary, course books etc), entertainment costs such as going out / plans with friends, personal costs such as clothes and toiletries and finally miscellaneous for any other costs such as Spotify subscriptions, phone bill, laundry etc.
Calculators are your best friend
Make sure to use a calculator for all purposes to make sure there are no errors anywhere
Keep track of payments and expenses
Remember to separate incoming payments and outgoing expenses. Outgoing expenses include the essential costs listed in the first point while incoming payments include your maintenance loan (if you have one), any bursaries/scholarships that you’ve applied for, family contribution and savings from any part-time job.
I recommend investing in a Monzo bank account. Not only can you create ‘pots’ to categories different parts of your budget, but you can also ‘lock the pot’ which can help control your savings.
Use a template and find the best discounts
Download a student-budget planner template! There are lots of these available online (especially on Pinterest) for a variety of different financial needs. Also, make sure to use TOTUM, which has the best vouchers and discounts for any entertainment costs you’re inevitably going to concur.
Get a railcard
If you’re someone who’s going to travel by rail often to visit family, make sure to get a 16-25 railcard. If you’re travelling to London, you can even link your railcard to your Oyster card for a discount on TFL travel.
Shop second hand
Join your course’s Facebook group to meet previous students – they will most probably be selling second-hand course books for a fraction of their original price.
Don’t splurge on unnecessary foods and services
With grocery prices rising as they are, and food waste being one of the biggest contributors to climate change, keep your food costs down as much as possible! Only purchase food items that will last longer and don’t splurge on anything you know you’re not going to eat. Make a well-thought-out weekly shopping list with a maximum budget, stick to it and meal prep!
Also make sure to reduce the certain non-essential expenses that eat away at your budget, particularly UberEats or Deliveroo.