Ways to stretch your student budget
Being a student can expensive but with some planning, you can have some left over for a social life. So how do you draw up a budget that's realistic and workable?
1. Put pen to paper
Start with a sheet divided into two sections headed Income and Expenses and write down all of your sources of money and all the things you expect to have to shell out for. Don't forget costs like rent, food and books etc. Being aware of how you spend your money can also show you where you could be saving, such as cutting down on coffees or making your own sandwiches.
2. Organise your income
While expenses will crop up on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, your income may come in a lump sum. If you get a maintenance loan, for example, it will arrive in chunks at the start of each term. If you have been working in the summer holidays before you start college, you will have a lump sum at the start of the year.
It can be a good idea to put the money to cover your rent or hall fees into a separate account that you don't touch on a day-to-day basis. That way you know how much you have left to spend for the rest of the term. Divide up any money you have left so you know how much you have to spend each week. Whether income is in the form of a loan, parental contribution, bursary or wages know where it's coming from before it arrives. Work out how it breaks down week-by-week or term-by-term.
3. Maximise your income
Four out of 10 students - have a job while they study. But you shouldn't work too hard, say the experts. Full-time work in the holidays can be tax-free and good for your CV as well as your bank balance.
4. Get help
Your university bank branch will most likely have a student adviser. Take advantage of them - the advice will be free and they can help you manage your money better. Ask about free student banking, overdraft interest rates and charges, and any student loans they offer. Your student welfare office will also have seen it all before, and might be able to help with Access College hardship funds.
5. Get a discount
Look out for deals, such as special offer and take advantage of money off – "buy one get one free offers" - and student deals in restaurants and at the cinema.
6. Learn to cook
Even the school canteen’s food isn’t free. Make your own meals etc. Shop at the market closest to you to buy cheap vegetables and fruit and other food stuff.
7. Keep tabs on your spending
Bank online, read your statements, look at receipts, compare prices in the supermarket and don't take out more than you need from the ATM. It all helps you keep control of what you've got.
8. Avoid unnecessary expenses