Living Costs on a Student Budget… HELP!

How to plan your money effectively for university

Money. A controversial topic that people tend to avoid, or want to brag about way too much. The root of all evil? Possibly. Something you need to get to grips managing? Definitely!

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When you get to uni for the first time, it can be very tempting to spend a good chunk on stocking up your cupboard with all of the snacks. That or buying several rounds of Yodas and vodka shots at the LRV move in party. Or going on a shopping spree up in Hanley. All I’m going to say is good luck if thats what you end up doing!

What might seem bountiful for the first few weeks, spreading your student loan over the entire year is a feat in itself. Having graduated once already, I know how difficult it is to spread the costs of living, and not wrack yourself up in huge amounts of debt. Aside from the obvious issues surrounding student loans (how they really don’t cover actual living & how you get labeled as an entitled millennial if you ever say that in front of a baby boomer), here are some pearls of wisdom I bestow onto you, to hopefully making living as a student less stressful.

Student Bank Accounts

I cannot express enough how a student bank account is worth setting up when managing your finance. There are many on offer, and the majority include an interest free overdraft, which can been very helpful for when the ‘money well’ has dried up a little at the end of a semester. While I would never encourage anyone to allow themselves to get into unnecessary debt, having an interest free overdraft can be a safety net for anyone struggling on a very low budget.

I bank with Santander, who currently offer a £1800 interest free overdraft with their student current account, which I believe is one of the bigger ones on offer. Though I would not recommend pushing that overdraft to the limit, having a ‘wide net’ to catch you in an emergency is great to have.

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Food Shopping

It can be hard to balance diet on a budget, especially when you factor those essential nibbles come exam period. But it can be done! For me, it was about becoming more mindful about my eating habits and the foods I bought. One change I made was going vegetarian, which has saved me big bucks in the long run, and has stuck with me even though my budget is a little looser nowadays. For example, Quorn tends to be cheaper than fresh beef mince or chicken, and gives you plenty of protein as a meat substitute.

On days that I used to crave something a little meaty, I would check out the reduced sections on a rare occasion. Now I still check the reduced sections in the bakery aisle and other spots usually found at the back of store. The food is still good to eat, and things like bread can be stored in the freezer for toast for several weeks. (Extra Tip: I find writing a shopping list ahead of time helps me to keep on track and avoid unnecessary purchases)

Nights Out

Part of student culture is of course the night life. At the end of the week if dressing up, going out, and having a few drinks is your idea of relaxing, then go for it! One thing I would recommend however is planning ahead the amount of money you are willing to spend that night. Earlier that day head to a cash machine and get out the amount of money you think you will need. Then when you actually head out, leave your bank card behind so that you don’t get tempted half way through the night to eat into that overdraft we were talking about earlier.

Putting a barrier between yourself and attaining more funds can sound risky, and I might not recommend it if you are going into town and might need some emergency cash to get a taxi back home. But if you are just heading to LRV, and know that having your card with you will make it easier to spend way too much on a night out, it might be worth leaving it behind.

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Ultimately, my advice is to train yourself to be more conscious about your spending habits. Really question whether something is what you need or want before making a purchase. Plan ahead as much as you can when budgeting for a night out, or doing your weekly shop. Simple practices that can become money-saving habits!

Drew
About Drew 34 Articles
• MSc Health Psychology post-grad student, and BSc Psychology and Counselling Graduate • Appreciator of good food, a makeup enthusiast, and lover of all things that sparkle • A massive nerd aspiring to become a chartered psychologist (Dr. Keating sounds good right?!) • Proud member of the LGBT+ community, with a desire to educate and help others as best I can

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