Student life can seem pretty tough. Between first-time budgeting, a lack of routine lifestyle and expenses you’d never even thought of before Uni, it seems your average student could live off nothing but beans, toast and cheap vodka all year. However I’m happy to tell you this does not have to be you! Yes, being a student on a limited budget is not always easy, but thanks to cheap supermarkets, the Internet and student saving schemes made just for you, it’s totally possible to live a healthy, entertaining life without having to raid the (food) bank of Mum and Dad. In order to show you how exactly to go about doing this, I thought I’d start a Budget series, and take you through the different areas of student life in the most sustainable, budget friendly way possible.
‘What exactly is budgeting?’ You might ask. I guess the best way to describe it is ‘spending appropriately, setting yourself targets and sticking to them’. With expenses coming at you left right and centre, from accommodation rent to that gym membership you swore you’d use, keeping track of your expenses is super important (and super useful!).
‘So how exactly do you do it?’ The first thing to do is sit down, get out your laptop and add up all the money you’ll have coming in that year, or however far ahead you want to plan. This might include loans, grants, job earnings or any extra money you’re willing to spend. Then add up your concrete outgoings (rent, bills, phone contract etc.) and take the total outgoings away from your total money sum, and you should be left with your living money. I then divide this by the number of weeks in the term so I’m pretty much left with an amount I can expect to reasonably live on each week.
Now think about all your daily expenses-how much you’d ideally like to spend on food, going out, coffee etc, and how much you’d want to save for emergencies. Be realistic with what you think you’ll spend and don’t leave anything out then, based on this, set an amount you think you can stick to each week. Make sure you write down your spending on a notepad or phone until it becomes a habit- you might actually be surprised to see where all your money is going. If you want to be really strict on yourself you could even schedule your allowance so it’s sent to your bank account each week rather than getting it in one lump, but I guess it depends how much you trust your spending abilities…(or lack of).
I know this all sounds like a rather tedious process, but I promise sticking to a system like this will make the year far more financially stress-free. Budgeting really does work! Plus if you have any spare cash at the end of the month, you can go ahead and treat yourself to that stupidly overpriced shirt you’ve been eyeing all semester, and feel that extra bit smug for saving up for it.
(If you found this at all useful, I’ll be following it up with more blogs full of tips and tricks covering a bunch of areas on saving money and spending sensibly at Uni, which you’ll be able to find on my page in the upcoming months 🙂 )