Moving away to university you suddenly find that you have to manage your finances. For some this may be an easy task, but for most this is a difficult job that has to be mastered with time. People tell you to budget, but what does budgeting actually mean? Here are a few tips to help you out along your university experience.
The easiest way to not run out of money is to find out your monthly income and divide it by four and this is the amount of money you have a week that you can spend (remember not all months are 28 days long though!). This is the simplest way to ensure that you don’t spend all your money in the first week and end up eating bread and beans for the next three weeks until you get more money. Also remember to make sure you’ve got enough for accommodation, bills, phone bills and car insurance etcetera before dividing by 4, or you may find you suddenly have a lot more outgoings than anticipated!
You may find it useful to write down what you spend money on so that you know how much you are spending on what. This is a way to see whether you are spending too much on one thing whether it be food, clothes or nights out. This will help you to keep to your weekly budget and not enter the dreaded overdraft. When I started uni, it was the first time I had to manage my own money really, and I recorded everything I spent. Though this was time consuming, it made me think twice before buying something! It’s a good way to see if you’re going out too much, buying and wasting too much food, or popping to Teeside Park for a shopping trip a little too frequently!
Make sure that you save money for the more expensive times of the year as your expenditure will increase. For example, think of Christmas and how many people you have to buy presents and cards for, the extra meals, Winter Gala and more. The expenses will all add up and quickly take you over your ordinary budget. You will need more money for Birthdays, Summer Ball, course events, Refreshers week so save up for these to not be left without money.
One main thing students forget is that if they only get an income whilst at University (30 weeks) they are left without any money in the holidays to do things at home with school friends and family if you spend all of your income at university. Another hidden cost is housing over the summer at the end of the year, you ave already used your student finance on this year’s accommodation and you will need money for deposits and rent over the summer for next year’s house before student finance comes in. University, and Welfare, run a housing campaign week in January/February, where we will advise and help you so you don’t need to worry about this yet!
Make sure you know when your new student finance arrives and which account it comes into. This is obviously the card you’ll have to spend money on or transfer the money to another account. Don’t go and spend all your money straight after the loans come in feeling rich and end up scrimping as a result.
One thing to be conscious of too is that everyone will have a different budget to you. While you may be fortunate enough to go out every night and not have to worry about your finances, not everyone will be in that position. Be aware that university is a place where you will meet people from all different walks of life. If you’re watching every penny you spend, do not be embarrassed of self-conscious about that, but be proud that you are managing your money sensibly – you’ve just become an adult! Don’t feel pressured to go out for dinner if you can’t afford it, you don’t have to, and equally, don’t make others do things they don’t want to! University is a team effort, and here at Stevo, we are one big, supportive family. We’re all here for each other regardless of your budgeting capabilities. Just remember to ask for help if you need it!
University life is a balance. Sometimes it feels hard enough managing time spent in lectures and time socialising, but when you add in finances, food, exercise and the other essential aspects to living, you can feel like you’re in way over your head. But do not worry! Planning, organising and being aware of the different aspects goes a long way to helping you manage your time and money. It’s not about going all out at the beginning and struggling towards the end of term; it’s about being realistic and honest with yourself. If you’ve spent too much money in Induction Week, go a bit easier the week after – have a sober night, don’t snack as much, watch your phone usage, visit the library! It may seem hard to adjust at first, but once you’ve found the balance it’ll be much easier, and Team JCR Welfare, and College Welfare are here to help!
Abbie and Ellie 🙂