Did you know that before starting university, 7% of students have never opened a bank account and 69% have never paid a bill? It’s no wonder 39% don’t budget when it comes to managing their money.
But when you’re out there on your own for the first time and trying to get your head around what’s a priority (e.g. proper meals, washing your clothes, getting to lectures on time) and what’s not (e.g. Jägerbomb Fridays) it’s arguably the most important time of all to be keeping track of your spending.
Budgeting may not be the most exciting thing in the world, but if it means you can go out with your friends without worrying whether you’re going to be eating beans on toast for the next fortnight, it’s surely worth it! Here are our top tips to help students save their cash.
Put together a budget
Christians Against Poverty (CAP) runs a short money management course specifically for students. It’s the perfect place to learn how to budget and spend wisely, as well as meet new friends. Find a group near you at capmoneycourse.org. There are also tons of tools online to help you, including the Money Advice Service’s handy budget planner. (moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/tools/budget-planner).
Double-check student funding
There are various bursaries, scholarships and grants available depending on your circumstances. You’ve nothing to lose in doing some research and it might just pay off.
Make the most of available discounts. Find out if your local bus service offers discounted multi-trip passes, and invest in a 16-25 Railcard to save 1/3 on train travel (16-25railcard.co.uk). Where possible, ditch buses and taxis altogether and get walking.
Get yourself a part time job and earn a little pocket money. The first £11,500 you earn in a short-term job is tax-free!
If there are a few different supermarkets in your area, use mysupermarket.co.uk to compare prices and make sure you’re getting the best deal on your grocery shop.
Learn to cook
Takeaways, ready meals and eating out are certainly convenient, but they’re also a surefire way to quickly run out of money. Check out bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/how-survive-student-basic-recipes to master some staple dishes like pasta bake and fajitas.
If you’d rather not spend lots of time cooking every day, make a big batch of Bolognese sauce, curry or soup, divide into containers and freeze for up to a month. Cheapest ready meal around.
Find cheap or free books
Need a shedload of books for your studies? Root around the library and second hand bookshops, or ask older students if they’ve got any they no longer need.
Do without a TV license
Nowadays, monthly subscriptions to streaming services like Netflix and Now TV are half the price of a TV license and have hours and hours of content for you to binge on. Remember, if you want to watch BBC iPlayer it’s now a legal requirement to have a TV license to do so.
Stay fit without the gym
Staying fit is super important, but you don’t need a gym to exercise! Memberships can be expensive, especially if you end up hardly going. If you really do want to use the gym, why not find one where you can pay as you go? Otherwise, pull up some workout videos on YouTube or just go for a good old-fashioned run!
By Adriaan Van Wyk