How to Manage Your Expenses on a Student Budget
Managing your money can be a challenge at the best of times. But on a student budget, your spending can quickly get away from you, leaving you feeling stressed and financially insecure. To avoid issues down the line, it’s worth wrapping your head around the expenses you can expect as a student before you even step foot in your new university.
If you know how much money you’re likely to need each month, and where this money will be spent, it’s far easier to create a good budget that allows you to get the most out of your university experience! To help with your planning, we’ve put together a list of expenses you can expect and tips on how to keep your costs down.
1. Books and Materials
When you start a new course, there are always a few unavoidable costs to cover, such as books and extra materials or stationery. By having a good understanding of what these costs include from the get-go, you’ll be better equipped to budget for them. There are also a bunch of ways that you can save money on these added expenses. Look out for second-hand book sales at the university or online, as these allow you to buy books at cheaper prices from past students. Plus, you can sell them when you’re finished with them too! Remember that you also may be able to get cheaper deals if you buy directly from your university shop or if you use your student card when purchasing. Another option is to see if you can borrow some of the course books from the library instead of buying them.
Staying on campus in student accommodation is often far cheaper than finding alternative off-campus housing options. Plus, being close to class means that you can save money on transportation too! When weighing up living options don’t forget about the cost of utilities. For example, the cost of staying in campus accommodation usually includes amenities such as internet, heating, electricity and water. Certain student accommodations may even include meals, so keep an eye out for added extras that can help you cut costs in other areas. If utilities aren’t included, make sure you budget for these accordingly and set up debit orders to help manage your monthly payments.
3. Getting Around
When figuring out your budget, don’t forget about transportation costs! Whether getting to and from class every day or back home for the holidays, travel costs can add up. Remember to sign up for student travel rates to capitalize off these savings and plan ahead as much as you can to get lower rates and fares.
Just because you’re a student doesn’t mean that you have to resort to noodles and toast. Living healthy plays a big part in your ability to achieve success, so make sure you budget enough to buy food that will properly nourish you. A good tip for keeping food costs low is to buy in bulk. Bulk buying is far cheaper and by freezing the excess, you’ll always have something to cook when your kitchen cupboards are bare. Always go shopping with a list, so that you make sure that everything you buy is going to be used wisely. Instead of buying food on campus, why not pack your own healthy lunches to eat on the go.
Students tend to spend a lot on socializing! It’s understandable that new students want to go out and explore their city and meet new people, but the costs of entertainment can quickly add up. Try to allocate yourself a weekly entertainment budget and stick to it. There are also plenty of ways to be sociable that don’t have a hefty price tag. Keep a lookout for free events and special deals, or simply stay in and socialize with your roommates. There are also loads of student websites that market budget-friendly events and have great ideas for cheap days (and nights) out.
6. Find a Part-time Job
Beyond keeping your expenses down, many students choose to take on a part-time job, as a weekly income can really help offset the costs of student living. Before getting a job, try to figure out how many hours you can realistically work. You don’t want to bite off more than you can chew and get stuck stressing about not having enough time to focus on your studies. Most universities have great resources that can help you find part-time work. Or simply keep an eye on the campus noticeboards for job openings in local businesses. If you’re not having much luck, try registering with an employment agency or an online job website too.
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About the Author: Tessa Cunliffe, a South African based digital copywriter and marketer, with a passion for travel and learning. Yoga-inspired and coffee-fuelled. Always planning the next adventure.