So, you’re about to start uni and you’re probably starting to get a bit anxious about budgeting. Don’t worry if you’re not – you’re not missing out on much. But if you are, then you’re not alone. With the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, money is at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
I’m no money-saving expert, I’m just someone who went to university, messed up my finances and learnt some valuable lessons from it. Here’s what I’ve figured out about getting the most out of your cash.
- Roundups and rainy days
Some banking apps offer you a roundup of your purchases. This is an ideal way to save money gradually without even realising you’re doing it. Plus, some apps even have a rainy-day function where you save money every time it rains, which up north soon adds up.
- Cash is key
The best and simplest way to budget is to go old school. Set yourself a weekly budget and take that out in cash to pay your way through the week. This makes sure that you have to stick to your financial limits. Even though, post-Covid, fewer places accept cash, you can always adapt this if your bank allows for saving pots to help you allocate your weekly funds.
- Bulk buy and meal plan
A simple bolognese sauce can keep you fed for a week in different guises. Cook a big pot of spaghetti bolognese on a Monday evening and portion it out for the rest of the week. You could add a little spice to make a chilli for Tuesday, add gravy for cottage pie on Wednesday, mince and dumplings on Thursday and finish off the week with a classic lasagne. I’m not saying it’s pretty, I’m not saying it’s fun, but it is efficient. You’ll save money and have some extra cash to treat yourself on weekends.
- Student discounts
Yes, fewer places do seem to be offering discounts now, but you can still find a bargain, particularly if you need a new pair of trainers or a going-out top. So get signed up to all the apps and schemes, and check them all for the best deal before you buy.
- Avoid the overdraft
Sure you’ve got a great deal on your student overdraft but trust me – stay out of it if you can. An overdraft is there for emergencies, not for ‘treat yourself’ days so avoid it. They can be hard to pay off when you don’t have the safety net of a student loan.
All in all, try not to stress too much about money when you’re studying, just remember to ask for help as soon as you realise you need it. Don’t suffer in silence.
By Oli Welham