It’s the new year, a time for all those dreaded New Year’s resolutions. A time for you to read that book that has been collecting dust on your shelf. A time for you to go on that run you’ve always told your- self you would do. A time for you to not leave those assignments until the last minute. However, for many of us students, our New Year’s resolutions may be more along the lines of: I’m going to save more money. Possibly the hardest resolution to keep in my opinion, but what follows is some general advice on where to start when going about keeping this promise.
- Track your spending
Microsoft Excel is my saviour when it comes to tracking money. I’m sure there are many apps and other spreadsheet programs out there, but I like to keep it old-school. Having categorised columns such as ‘Food,’ ‘Transport,’ ‘Rent,’ ‘Bills,’ and ‘Subscriptions’ makes it very easy to see where you spend- ing your money. I don’t know about you, but when it comes to remembering what I’ve spent my money on, I’m usually one to completely forget, even within a day. Having it all laid out in front of me on a spreadsheet has made it much easier to track, as you can see which category you’re spending the most on.
2. Set yourself a budget
In addition to setting up a spreadsheet or finding a way to track your money, I would highly recommend setting yourself a weekly budget. Being aware of your limits is crucial when being a university student as it sets the foundation for your financial responsibility in the future. Knowing how much to spend and how much to save should be essential when tracking your money. I have also found it very helpful to have both a current and a savings account so I can easily distinguish between how much I can spend and how much I have saved.
3. Know your priorities
When you are on a limited budget, it is highly important to get your priorities straight. Differentiating between essential and luxury expenses is difficult but necessary when it comes to spending your money wisely. Of course, every once in a while, it is important to treat yourself or reward your- self with some non-essential buying, but it is equally as important to remember that your rent, your weekly food shop, and other essential necessities take priority first.
4. Take advantage of student discounts
The start of the new year means the start of a wide variety of student discounts. Apps like UNiDAYS and Student Beans give you free, instant access to discounts from a range of brands, including Apple, Uber Eats, Deliveroo, Domino’s, Puregym, and so many more. I am currently on a free student trial with Amazon Prime for six months, a discount which I had heard about from another student. I could not recommend it more … just remember to use them wherever you go.
5. Plan your activities
Another more overlooked bit of advice I have is to plan your activities, specifically your meals. When I first started university, it was honestly very tempting to just go to the shops and spontaneously buy whatever I fancied. However, as I started to track my spending, I found that this was not the most efficient way to spend my money. Planning what meals I was going to have before going to the shops really helped me as I made sure that everything in my fridge and cupboard would not go to waste – an economic and environmental advantage!
6. Adjust when needed
We must acknowledge of course that not everything will work out. Budgets may have to change, priorities may have to be re-ordered, and your entire way of tracking your money may have to be completely scrapped. Despite all this, it is important to remember that change is good, and it may be for the better. Adapting to change is a great life lesson to learn, especially when it comes to money