Life at university can be expensive. As well as your rent and bills, there are books and supplies, travel costs, food – and we all enjoy a night out in the Student Union! Below are our top seven tips to create a budget and make life a little easier.
1. Write down your budget
Make a list of all of your monthly income and expenditure. Include the necessities (rent, bills, food, transport, books etc) and the extras that we all like to splurge on (believe it or not, beer is NOT a necessity.) Then write down all of your sources of income. The more detail you can include the better, as this will allow you to plan effectively
2. Consider a part time job
Four out of 10 students – 750,000 undergraduates – have a job while they study. But you shouldn’t work too hard, say the experts. Try to keep it to less than 15 hours a week in term time. Full-time work in the holidays can be tax-free and good for your CV as well as your bank balance. If you don’t yet have a part-time job but want to budget for one, expect to earn between £70 and £100 a week.
3. Take public transport
If you are lucky enough to live within walking distance of campus, great! If not, driving to and from campus will ensure your bank balance quickly starts to disappear. Check out public transport routes. There are also student discounts available on certain types of public transport, for example, a student railcard or Unirider bus pass.
4. Learn to cook
Takeaway and fast food restaurants may seem like a quick and easy option for dinner, but they are definitely not friendly on your bank balance. Preparing a lunch to take to uni and cooking dinner in your flat is a cheap, healthy alternative which will save you some cash for the Student Union afterwards. See here for some quick and easy student friendly recipes.
5. Take advantage of student discounts
You will be surprised just how many shops, bars and restaurants offer student discount. Carry your student card with you at all times, and don’t be scared to ask at the till if they do a student discount! Check out student discount apps such as UNiDAYS which offers discount codes for a variety of great stores. And to save some money on nights out, check out local bars and clubs offering of student discounts. The Student Union is normally good for this, and depending on your city, there may be a whole host of local bars willing to offer a discount to students.
6. Leave your credit card at home
If you don’t have the cash for something, don’t buy it. Sure, your credit card might seem like a life-saver and, yes, you might be able to put the bill out of your mind until the end of the month. But if you don’t pay it fully on its arrival, you’ll incur serious interest charges and your credit rating will suffer if you fall behind with those payments.
7. Hit the (used) books
Books and supplies will be one of your biggest expenses while at uni. While it can be tempting to go straight out and buy the entire reading list brand new, this will quickly eat up all of your cash. Great quality second hand books are available online on sites like Amazon, check out Gumtree or find out if the uni has a book sale. Many books will be almost brand new at a fraction of the price. Also, consider borrowing any non-essential textbooks from the library. And consider selling your used books at the end of the year if you can.
If you are struggling with money at any point throughout your degree, the university has support systems in place. Speak to your student advisor, or the finance office. There are short term loans, grants and discretionary funds available to help you if necessary. They can also advise on budgeting tips, and speak to the careers service if you are thinking about getting a part time job to earn a little extra cash.