The best day of term for every student is when that all important student loan lands in their bank account. But making that money last can be really tough when you’re trying to juggle the costs of going out, doing the food shopping and buying textbooks. Sow how do you live on a budget during your time at university? We thought we’d write this blog post to provide some guidance.
Create a Budget
Unsurprisingly, the most important part of living on a budget is to come up with a plan of how much you can spend each week. If you’ve never budgeted before, you might find that calculating living costs is quite tough, so talk to whoever pays the bills in your household.
To work out how much money is available to you and to prevent yourself going into your overdraft, divide the amount of money in your bank account after your student loan has dropped and your parents have added some funds (though we know that not everyone’s parents can do this) and divide it by the number of weeks in the term. If you’re prone to overspending on nights out, it might be a good idea to open another bank account where you keep most of your money and just transfer over the amount you need each week.
When you make your plan, be aware that the most important thing you need to budget for is your food bill and your rent. If you’re in a Mistoria house, you can rest assured knowing that the rent you pay includes bills, so you don’t have to spend time worrying about any extra costs. You then need to think about how much you’ll spend on nights out and other social events with friends. Remember that if you go to a university in a big city like Liverpool or Manchester, the price of a night out will be higher than you’re used to.
If your costs for the first term are higher than anticipated (and they probably will be, what with buying textbooks, joining societies and buying bits and pieces to make your house more like a home) you’ll need to make allowances for that in the following term and cut back somewhere.
A great way to save money is to shop for food as cheaply as you can. Certain shops like Aldi are well known for having really low prices, but if you prefer to shop elsewhere, look for own brand products as they’re usually considerably cheaper than the brands you know. You should also look at the price per gram shown on shop labels. You’ll often find that something that initially looks like the cheaper option is misleading and that another choice will actually save you money.
When you go food shopping, you should have a weekly meal plan in place and stick to it. If you know exactly what you want, you won’t be tempted to buy any extra stuff you don’t need. When it comes to actually preparing your meals, buy and cook in bulk. Try and prepare four meals worth of food in one go and freeze what you don’t eat. That way, you’ll create less waste and save money at the same time.
Track What You Buy
When you’ve got money in your bank account, it can be hard not to spend it on impulse purchases. Before buying something though, ask yourself whether you really need it, or whether that brand new t-shirt will just end up at the back of the cupboard with all the others you bought and thought you’d wear. When you do buy something, it’s a good idea to track your spending. You could even go as far as making an Excel spreadsheet to do this. You can then see where you’ve spent your money and if you you realise you’ve been spending a bit too much, you can see where to cut back.
Get a Student Discount Card
For some great savings, you should definitely get a TOTUM card. You can use it to get more than 200 discounts at some of your favourite brands, both in-store and online. You can get one for just £32 for three years.
Travelling by train in the UK can be cripplingly expensive, so it’s just as well you can get a 16-25 Railcard, which gives you a third off rail travel. Whilst you can buy one for £70 for three years, you can also get one for free if you open a student bank account with Santander.
Renting a House with Mistoria
Did you know that you can live in a high quality student home without breaking the bank? If you’re on the hunt for some of the best student accommodation in Salford come and see what Mistoria Estate Agents has to offer. Speak to a member of our team to discuss your needs.