Budgeting as a student can be hard! Learn from our students top mistakes.

Karl McCormack, Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School


Being a student is a great time in your life, but living off a budget can create stress and anxiety. We start university often with limited skill in budgeting and managing our finances. Students frequently mention spending mistakes that eat up chunks of their bank balances.

The key is to develop good spending habits starts with budgeting. Yes, it is time consuming and a real pain, but it enables us to track money coming in and going out.

By learning to budget well, you will be able to:

  • Understand your spending and adjust bad spending habits
  • Spend less on useless items
  • Save more money
  • Keep out of debt
  • Have money for emergencies or important future expenses
  • Learn and prevent future spending mistakes

Learning how to budget will save you a lot of hassle and you will be learning skills for life.

Biggest mistakes:

Not having a budget!

Sounds crazy doesn’t it? But failing to have a visual budget instead relying on memory for what you have to spend and what you have spent, often leads to thinking you have more money than you really do. It becomes difficult to gauge if something is over your budget and impossible to not overspend as you start to socialise more.

Using your debit card when you pay for something.

Everyone uses their card right? Using cash is old fashioned? But there are many more pros than cons in using cash rather than your card. Putting everything on a card creates the illusion of having more money than you think, that you aren’t actually spending. The realisation that you do not have unlimited funds, that you are a student living on a budget (now with no money) will soon kick in.

Students often say they have no idea what they were spending money on. Tapping a card  and not even registering the amount you are tapping for. This along with not looking at a  bank statements or just being confused by the names you see on it.

So stop using your card, use cash for daily expenses. Yes you still need a card (online purchases, transport, larger expenses) for necessities. But for fun expenses, things you don’t really need, pay by cash. You will notice as the cash disappears and this will give you greater knowledge of where you are spending your money.

Don’t buy textbooks before attending your first classes.

Every course has a list of recommended texts and required reading. There are certain benefits to being organised and preparing. But wait. Internet searching can often reveal the information you are after.

But what if the book is compulsory? In some lectures the tutor may refer to a core book each week and the questions can only be found in them. You may need to get your hands on a specific book then. You could try:

  • The university library
  • Classmates and friends (may have copies they are happy to share)
  • Social media chats and groups (may get a battered old copy cheap)
  • Online marketplaces
  • Online, traditional and second-hand bookstores

Lazyness! Not packing your own lunch.

Ask any student they will say a lot of money is spent on buying lunch on the days you are in uni. Often prices are not too high, but they are higher than making your own. You may start with good intentions, but as time passes the laziness creeps in and you stop packing your own lunch. Purchasing a lunch can cost £7 or £8 then a drink etc… multiply this by the number of days you are in uni and the weeks and suddenly you are talking about a large sum of money.

By knowing what you spend your money on, learning from those mistakes means you can take steps to ix it. Develop good spending habits, don’t buy things that you do not need and learn from others.

What are your own spending mistakes? What are your tips?


Our Accounting and Finance courses at Staffordshire University will teach you how to guide every business decision from financial reporting, tax planning and business strategy.

Ultimate Google Ads Guide for SME’s: 3 steps to increase return on Ads spend

Eerik Beeton, MSc Digital Marketing Management student


Return on Advertising Spend
Increase return on Ads spend with these 3 steps!

There are a few reasons why your Google Ads might not work as well for your business as it seems to work for your competitors. Make sure you follow these three steps and you’re guaranteed to be more productive with your Google Ads.

Many businesses have struggled to make most out of their digital marketing efforts and have employed strategies where they use an external marketing agency to handle paid digital marketing. I’m here to suggest that outsourcing Pay Per Click and Cost Per Mille (PPC/CPM) is not sensible anymore in the 2020’s. Why would you pay someone else to do what you can do yourself?

To prove this to you, the next three steps in this blog will bring to your attention some issues around outsourcing your Google Ads and how to do it yourself to both save money and increase the effectiveness of your paid ads!

1. Exploit automation, lose that agency and save up to half of the cost

Historically, making your ads has been time-consuming and has required a lot of technical input from marketers to stay in top of the game. Year 2019 was the year of automation, this also changed how PPC works. Now your PPC can be automated with budget diversification and smart audience targeting, making the use of an agency inferior. I’m listing more handy tools throughout this blog so keep reading!

If you buy click-based advertising services (Google Ads, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), a service provider will usually charge a 10-20% of the ad spend and a minimum monthly fee for their work. If your competitor advertises their services in-house for £300 per month and you outsource this service, then your advertising spend on Google AdWords is £150-200. This gives your competitor 30-50% higher advertising budget and an advantage.

As the average return on advertising pounds spend on google is 1 pound spent, 2 earned, you’re most likely giving your profits away using  a marketing agency.

2. Optimise and save up to 69% on your Ads

Understanding you Ad quality score can help you to create better campaigns and improve your digital marketing as a whole.

Poorly optimised Google Ads are a costly mistake, not only are they more expensive but they won’t get your business the leads they are after.  Once you get your Ads optimised, your Ad spend can be decreased by 69%.

Maybe the most important part of your Google Ads optimisation is that they need to be eligible for Google auctions. This means that your ads need to focus on a few strange terms like Quality Score, Maximum Bid and Ad rank. Ad rank is influenced by the maximum cost-per-click (CPC) you choose for your ad and your ad’s Quality Score. In the following, I will explain how you can create the best quality score for your ads.

To improve the quality score of your ads, focus on the following 4 strategies

  • Use keyword planning to increase relevance of your adds by making ad groups based on keywords
  • Optimise your ads for higher Click-through-Rate (CTR) by using focus keywords and Google Ads extensions, like call to actions and contact options.
  • Improve the quality of your landing page. This can be achieved by (re)targeting your ad and landing pages using long-tailed keywords or by using Dynamic advertising.
  • Be patient! Google’s algorithms will take more than a few days to improve the quality score of your Ads and being patient is the key to measure the improvements.

If reading pages of descriptions is not for you, I’ve also included a 4-minute video clip on the strategies for your convenience.

3. Set tracking and retarget customers to get 3x more leads

Retargeting Ads are 76% more likely to be clicked on than regular Display Ads. Therefore, building accurate conversion tracking is important for improving the results of your advertising. This is important as it will show how the customer actually behaved on the site.

Often, micro-conversions, such as referral browsing, shopping cart additions,, are ignored in tracking. However, they are essential metrics that tell about the quality of traffic and enable accurate re-marketing to visitors who completed a specific activity. This can also be used to track the performance of your paid advertising and to make changes accordingly. See the short video below on how to set you tracking!

The importance of setting conversion actions to help your customer tracking is essential; if you’re not sure how to do this here’s a link to a Google Ads article that explains it step by step.

Lastly, understanding the whole customer journey and to assess all the steps is important. By setting tracking and using retargeting can feed into 3 times more leads for your campaigns.

Future-proof your Google Ads revenue

Google has focused heavily on machine learning and keeps finessing the technology in order to deliver helpful and frictionless customer experience. There have been some setbacks in the technology and most of the features are not fully functioning for the SME’s, but this said: – The year 2020 will be the year to look out for improvements in:

Next big things in the early 2020’s

Google has focused heavily on machine learning and keeps finessing the technology in order to deliver helpful and frictionless customer experience. There has been some setbacks in the technology and most of the features are not fully functioning for the SME’s but this said: – The year 2020 will be the year to look out for improvements in: