When I first started university, I had such ambition before I went to keep some money aside in order to have a future for myself. I figured that if I was being given a student loan, I should at least take advantage of it by keeping some aside for the future as well as using it for student living. Despite having this initial determination to keep money aside, as soon as I started as a fresher it soon became a goal that had deteriorated quickly.
As many freshers were spending their money on alcohol, I was spending my money on unnecessary clothing that I did not need and takeaways. Beyond this, when it came to food shopping, I started to buy things that I didn’t need such as chocolate and soft drinks. As a student, you quickly start to acknowledge how EXPENSIVE things are. A chocolate bar that once cost you 60p now felt so vastly expensive that it was robbing me. Yet as a fresher, with a student loan of a couple of thousand pounds, money that I had never had before, I was taking advantage of it but in the wrong way.
I will say that it is hard to budget. You start university with this overwhelming sense of independence and not only does that mean being an independent individual but it means taking on task all responsibilities that you may never had, had before. It can be overwhelming, because one minute your bank account will make you feel completely rich but then you check it the next day and suddenly realise you have not quite grasped the essence of independence considering you just bought a notebook that cost you £3 when you could have bought one for less than 99p…
My top tips on budgeting, if you have no will-power (like me) are these:
- MAKE A FOOD PLAN FOR EACH WEEK.
Making a food plan is simple. You simply decide what meals you’re going to have each day of the week, and therefore when you come to buying groceries you’re not overspending. For instance, if you decide to have salmon for dinner each week, you can buy it in bulk. This has helped me a LOT considering I’ve ended up buying six weeks worth of dinners and then only having to buy fruits/vegetables with a limit of £5 per week. IT’S A LIFE SAVER.
2. KEEP AWAY FROM ONLINE BANKING.
Online Banking is a SAVER for some people, and it can be great for when it comes to paying rent and transferring money. The issue with online banking is that if you have your direct debit and savings account in full view online, then you can easily transfer money from your savings to your direct debit and vice versa. Very easily you’ll discover you have NO savings. Everything is your direct debit now. My advice is this, if you need online banking but you know you’re going to fall into the trap of losing all your savings, take this step – SET UP A NEW SAVINGS ACCOUNT.
By setting up a new savings account, with a different bank, you can transfer your money to your new savings account and KEEP it there, especially if you decide that this new account will DEFINITELY NOT BE FOR ONLINE BANKING. If you make this new savings account without online banking, and instead deposit and withdraw (if ESSENTIAL), then you will have to physically visit the bank branch to put in money and withdraw it. You’ll want to put money into it usually but if you’re anything like me, you’ll be too lazy to withdraw the money so suddenly you actually have a LEGIT savings account!
3. DON’T FALL INTO THE TRAP OF SPENDING ALL YOUR MONEY ON NIGHTS OUT.
Look, it’s very easy to get caught up as a fresher. I get it, being a fresher is a HELL of a lot of fun. Unfortunately, being a fresher also means your bank account is going to go from a lot of money to £0 very quickly. You’re going to spend money if you’re an outgoing person and it’s inevitable. However, there’s one piece of advice you should take: DO NOT TAKE YOUR DEBIT/CREDIT CARD OUT WITH YOU. It’s a rookie mistake. You’ll spend SO much money if you do so, and end up buying rounds for people you don’t even know. So, just make sure you withdraw money before you go out because otherwise you won’t have a dime left in your bank account when you check the next day.
So that’s my advice, maybe it’s a little different for each individual person but I feel that at least one of them will be relevant to you. What’s most important though is that you ENJOY your first year at university because your three or four years at university are literally the GREATEST.