For many, university is the first real taste of independence. Armed with your maintenance loan and free from the eyes of your parents, it might be tempting for you to splurge. However, if you want to avoid going into your overdraft, you need to think about budgeting before you spend…
The best way to stay in control of your finances is to make a sensible budget and try your best to stick to it from day one.
There are various budget calculators that you can use online to help you with this, but only you know your tastes and habits, so rather than relying on estimates created by other people it’s best to try to come up with your own.
Get in the habit of carrying a flask and a lunchbox of food if you’re away from your halls for a long period of time and you’ll also avoid wasting money on convenience…
After subtracting the cost of rent from the amount of money you’ll have coming in, the most important thing to consider will almost certainly be food.
One way of making an informed guess at how much you’ll be spending is by filling your trolley on a supermarket website with the food you expect to eat in a week. If the total cost seems too high, consider why that might be – have you chosen brand names over Everyday Value, for example?
Learning to cook is also a great way to cut costs.
It needn’t be anything fancy – think pasta with sauce and some in-season vegetables (veggie meals are often cheaper than ones made with meat). If you’re time-conscious, consider cooking a batch of food that’ll last you a few meals and storing it in Tupperware containers.
Apart from food you need to budget for laundry, phone bills, toiletries, haircuts, clothes/shoes, going out, course-related costs, and travel…
Get in the habit of carrying a flask and a lunchbox of food if you’re away from your halls for a long period of time and you’ll also avoid wasting money on convenience – it’s easy to waste huge chunks of money on coffees and sandwiches from cafes because you didn’t think ahead.
Apart from food you need to budget for laundry, phone bills, toiletries, haircuts, clothes/shoes, going out, course-related costs, and travel.
This may sound like an overwhelmingly long list of expenses, but by preparing for them you’ll save yourself stress later. You can also potentially save hundreds of pounds on these things by going for low cost options.
Always check the library before buying expensive new textbooks…
For example, to save money on course-related costs, always check the library before buying expensive new textbooks.
Many an anxious and unprepared fresher has decided a £40 textbook would be a good investment, only to never so much as read the contents page. Warwick’s library is so well-stocked that you may be able to easily get through your degree without buying any books.
However, should you really need them, check eBay and Amazon’s second-hand prices. Many second-hand books are in good-as-new condition but are far cheaper.
Travel is another expense it’s possible to make massive savings on.
Megabus operate budget coaches that are cramped, slow, and frequently late, but ridiculously cheap. As in, £2.70 for a ticket from Coventry to London cheap.
If trains home are threatening to eat up your pennies, it’s worth knowing that Megabus operate budget coaches that are cramped, slow, and frequently late, but ridiculously cheap. As in, £2.70 for a ticket from Coventry to London cheap.
Finally, awful Megabuses aside, don’t make yourself miserable! Make sure you set a budget that’s realistic and allows you room for (non-extortionate) treats and you’ll be much more likely to stick to it.
And if you do fail to stick to your budget one week, don’t give up.
Adjusting to living independently takes time, but the habit of living within your means is one that will serve you for life.