Starting university is an exciting time; you’re moving to a new place, meeting new people, and partying almost every night. I loved my first few weeks at university, they were some of the most enjoyable of my life. The only issue I had was overspending; budgeting was a hard habit to learn and one that I wished I’d learned sooner. (A few too many times my parents had to bail me out.)
My advice to new university students would be to get to grips with money management sooner rather than later, and you’ll have a better experience as a result. I learned the hard way, but you don’t have to. I’m actually heading back to university in a couple of weeks myself to begin my Master’s degree and I am going to ensure that this time around I keep my finances firmly in check.
Want to know how I plan on doing this? Take note of the tips and advice below!
Create a budget and stick to it
One of the most important things that you can do is create a budget and stick to it. Whether you’re an undergraduate or a postgraduate, you need to sit down and take a long, hard look at your finances. Look at what you’ve got coming in from work, loans and any bursaries that you’re entitled to, and then work out what you will need to pay each month. Don’t just calculate costs like rent, bills and food, it’s also important to calculate how much money you will need for social activities with your friends. Nights out, day trips, and other activities don’t come cheap, so budgeting for them is essential.
Do your food shop online
To ensure that you keep your food shop at an affordable price, consider doing it online. That way you won’t be tempted to add things to your trolley that you don’t need and you can keep an eye on the price as you add things to your basket. Plus, it’s far easier to compare food shopping prices online as you can more easily look at different brands.
Separate your funds
When it comes to your funds, it’s a good idea to keep the money for your tuition and rent in a seperate account to your money for spending on day-to-day life, as that way you know that you won’t accidentally eat into your funds for paying for your course or for your rent. (This was a lesson I learned early on and swear by when it comes to student spending – it really is life-saving.)
Take advantage of smart banking
Back when I was an undergraduate in 2011, smart banking wasn’t really a big thing, but today it is and it’s so useful. If you are going to stay on top of your spending as a student, it’s important that you utilise smart banking – it really does help. You could even opt to open a smart bank account, such as one from Think Money – their accounts are designed to be easy to manage, which is what I love about them.