Most students have lots of questions and uncertainties about managing their money. Funding and finances can feel particularly overwhelming at the start of university life. Lots of students have a lack of understanding of how little or how much money is available for them to spend on basic needs, fees, and other non-essential requirements. Second year MPhil Biochemistry student Javeria Mehboob is here to tell you her top money-saving tips!
For many students, starting university might be the first time they’ve had to manage their own money and lots of us might have limited experience of setting up a monthly budget. Some students also face additional challenges, such as dependent family members for example, whereas others get tempted to spend the money provided through student maintenance loans lavishly and are left with little or no money by the end of their first month at university.
When I started at Teesside University, I was going out shopping and dining almost every day for the first few weeks. However, by my third week, I realised that this lifestyle was not sustainable and it was important to make some immediate changes to the way I was using my money. I set-up a budget to keep money aside for rent, food, and other basic necessities and saved some cash to use in case of emergency. I realised that if I continued spending without budgeting, I would not have been able to get through my next few weeks at the university.
Here are some of the strategies and tips I have to spend money wisely, whilst still enjoying my time as a student:
- Open a savings account: Having a savings account is the first step to save money. Setting a monthly savings goal can help save when you need it most, and for the future.
- Budget at the start of the month: Prioritise your expenditure list based on what is most important as soon as you receive your monthly student loan or salary from any part-time work or other incomes you may have. Budget how much money you will spend on your weekly groceries, rent and other essentials and see if you are left with anything to save. You can occasionally treat yourself too based on your financial standing and if you have met all of your expenses.
- Live in shared student accommodation: Shared student accommodation can help you save a lot of money. Living at home with family is always the most affordable option but this isn’t available to everyone and it is equally important to experience student life – by living on campus if you want to – whilst still staying in budget. Cooking and dividing chores with housemates not just saves you money, it also saves you time.
- Download student discount apps: Student discount apps are the best way to save money. Whether it is food, clothing, or memberships, students can save money on all of these by downloading apps such as UniDays, StudentBeans etc. Amazon Prime also offers a free six-month membership trial for students. Remember to only use discounts on things you’re already needing to buy – if you’re buying things you don’t really need (even if they’re discounted) then you’re not saving!
- Look for part-time jobs: Always keep a look out for part-time jobs – such as working at the Student Unions’ or working as a student ambassador. Jobs like this are ideal because these roles help you make money while still being on campus. You may also find that working for the University is easier to manage alongside your studies – if you’re a student ambassador then you’re always advised that your studies come first, and student ambassador work next. There are lots of other options for part-time jobs too – you can work at restaurants, pubs and shops nearby. Many students also have their own small businesses set-up to support their financial needs whilst at the University – if you have a creative hobby that you enjoy you may be able to make some extra money sharing what you make with others.
- Avoid eating out often: Dining out on a frequent basis can be financially draining for students. Takeaways and eating out seems like the easiest and the most time-efficient option, however, it can be very burdensome financially and can leave you with little money for the remaining month. You’re likely to be healthier if you learn to cook for yourself too.
- Budget before going on night outs: One fun trick to save money is budgeting your night outs. Try leaving your card at home and just take a certain amount of cash that you know you can spare. Make sure you have enough for emergencies.
- One no spend day every week: I personally find this very effective. Have at least one no-spend day during the week. Eat whatever leftovers you have – this will not only help you save money but also contribute to sustainability.
- Avoid getting pets: For me – it’s never a good decision to have pets while studying at university. As much as we all love pets, we also know that they are hard to maintain and care for especially when you are a student and living on a budget. You can always have one, once you graduate!
- Avoid buying branded goods: One thing I learned at the start of my university journey was to never go after extremely expensive branded clothes. It is always great to invest in quality products which mostly cost a bit higher than regular products but it is better to not indulge in this race where all you always want are branded clothes. Trust me, non-branded items are just the same, sometimes even better.
These are my personal ideas and budgeting methods that have worked well for me. There are so many other tips out there if you search online for student budgeting ideas.