University is a lot of fun and for many of you it means freedom, for the first time, from parents. It’s where real adult life begins. However, alongside adult life comes adult responsibility in the form of managing money and budgeting. Budgeting may sound tedious and boring, but it is a necessary evil if you don’t want to go broke after a couple of weeks, especially if you’ve never had to control your finances before.
Calculating your budget
The first step when it comes to budgeting is to establish what your budget actually is!
- Establish your income
First, work out what you have to play with – what are your incomings. This could include your maintenance loan, any savings you might have, money earnt from any part time/summer work or even money you receive from your family.
- Assess your outgoings
Decide what you are going to spend your money on, either on a weekly or monthly basis. Split this into two categories: essential outgoings and optional outgoings. Your essential outgoings could include rent, any bills, food, transport, course materials and anything else you deem essential to student life. Optional outgoings may include the likes of nights out, eating out and new clothes.
- Calculate your weekly/monthly budget
To calculate your budget, take your total income for the month and subtract your month essential expenditure. You will be left with your remaining money to spend on whatever you like.
Budgeting tools and techniques
If you’re struggling with budgeting there are some great apps out there, such as Yolt, that will allow you to see very clearly where your money is going and what you have to spend.
Alternatively, if you’re a little more old school, why not create a spreadsheet to keep track of your incomings and outgoings.
Another way of making sure you don’t overspend is by having a separate current account and setting up a direct debit each week with your weekly allowance. This way you physically can’t spend more than your budget allows!
Making your money go further
Being in control of your own finances can seem daunting and often it can feel like you have more going out than coming in. Here’s a few tips to help make your money go further.
- One of the first things you should ask yourself when making a purchase is ‘do I want it or do I need it?’ If you need it, get it. If it’s not something you need, rather something you want, really think about whether you can afford it before making the purchase.
- ALWAYS ask for student discount. If you don’t ask, you won’t get – there’s no harm in asking! You’ll be surprised at the number of places offering discount to students.
- Shop around – different shops will have different prices. Take a little extra time to check these out and you could save yourself a small fortune in the long run.
- It may be very difficult, near on impossible, but try and put away a little bit of money each month. It doesn’t have to be a lot; it will all add up.