Budgeting can be hard whether you’re a student or not. However, moving to university is often the first time that most of us will have to learn how to budget ourselves. As a final year student, I’ve had a fair amount of experience in the budgeting department so I thought I’d share my tips with you.
Work in cash
In a generation that uses contact-less and cash-free ways of payment most of the time, you might find it a bit weird for me to suggest using actual money when you’re paying for something. As amazing as contact-less is, it’s so easy to not realise how much you’re spending. Now I know that some places that you might visit are completely cash-less. For example, one of the bars on my campus doesn’t accept cash at all. However, there are only a few places that actually are completely cash-less. So, my advice is that whenever you have the opportunity to pay in cash, do it. That way you can actually see what you’re spending. My main tip is to take out a certain amount of money every week and set that as your limit. Then it’ll be much easier to not over-spend.
Keep bills and personal money separate
This tip is especially great for knowing what money you actually have in your account. With student loans having just dropped for this term it’s easy to lose track of what money you have. My advice is to separate your bills and accommodation money into their own account or area of your bank account. That way you can see what you have to spend on things like food, clothing, drinks etc.
Meal prepping is something that I’ve really been trying to get into a lot more this year. I know for a lot of us it’s easier to just buy yourself a meal deal at lunch and have that extra 20 minutes in bed in the morning. However, have you even thought about how much money you’re spending a week on those £3 treats. A great way to meal prep is by doubling up the portions on your dinner from the night before. Not only will you save yourself money by making your own lunches but you also haven’t got to make a whole other meal to take to university with you. Simply split your dinner into two portions and you’re good to go. One of my favourite meal prep tricks is to make a batch of homemade soup. Whack a portion into a flask and take it with you the next day. You can even freeze portions for future dinners and lunches. Plus, it’s so cheap to make!
I’m sure a lot of you can agree that a night in is just as good as, if not better than, a night out. Some of my favourite nights at university have been staying in with my housemates watching a film and drinking a gin. As we all know, a night out can be expensive. But, for most of us it’s an essential part of our university experience. I’m not trying to say don’t go on nights out because they’re expensive, but I am saying that choosing to stay in every now and then will definitely help you to save some extra money. Throughout my university life I’ve realised what nights out are worth going on. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to go on every night out. Staying in and having a chilled night really can be just as great – especially if you make it into an occasion. Get a face mask, your favourite snacks and a pair of comfy pj’s and you’re in for a winner.
This is a fairly obvious but essential way to save money in university. I’ve had an NUS card (or TOTUM as they’re now called) since I was about 16 years old and the amount of money that I must’ve saved is insane. There are so many shops and restaurants that offer discounts to students. If there is one thing to take from this post it’s that you NEED to get yourself a student discount card. Not only that but make sure to sign up for UNiDAYS and Student Beans for discount online. Your student card will only get you discounts in store so if you want online discounts you’ll need to sign up to those sites. UNiDAYS is your main student discount site but some websites use Student Beans so you may as well sign up for both.
So, there you have it – my tips for working on a budget at university. Do you have any other university posts that you’d like to see me write about on my blog? Comment them below or get in touch on Twitter. Have you got any tips on how to budget that you want to share with me? I’m open to all suggestions so leave them below. For more university advice and tips check out my post about decorating your university bedroom.