These are tough times financially for students in the UK, even with websites such as moneysavingexpert.com and Moneysupermarket.com offering plenty of guidance on ways to save money here and there on anything and everything.
University fees are set to rocket over the next 12 months, the cost of living is increasing and job prospects after graduating are bleak to say the least in certain industries, meaning the pressure is on students right from the off to keep on top of their money situation.
Leaving aside student loans and overdrafts, staying out of any additional debt like maxing out credit cards or having to take out unsecured personal loans is essential if students want to remain focussed fully on their studies and avoid getting saddled with the emotional and physical burden of increased financial hardship.
Here are a few pointers on how best to budget for student life.
Ever heard of the saying that ignorance is bliss? Well, life won’t be bliss for any students that fail to watch precisely where all their money is going and then suddenly find out that they’re deep in the red and their life is potentially spiralling out of control.
It’s vital to closely monitor what’s coming in and going out of your bank account on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis and fortunately it’s never been more convenient to do so with online banking.
Find out exactly when to expect your next chunk of student loan money to land in your account. Find out exactly how much it’ll be. Find out if you’re eligible for an extra help in the form of grants and bursaries. Find out how many weeks are in the term and how many weeks you intend to live at university for. These are important things to be aware of as it’ll give you a clear idea of how much you’ll have available to spend every week or month.
The next job is to clearly set out all outgoings, which can range from rent to putting food on the table three times a day. Track them over a couple of weeks to see if there are any areas of your outgoings that can be reduced. For example, if you’re paying a fortune in mobile phone bills then do something about it if you can and switch to a cheaper tariff as soon as possible.
First and foremost, make certain you can afford the essentials when they’re needed and that means food, rent, course textbooks and paying the bills. Socialising, of course, must also be factored in and while you want to have enough to go out and enjoy yourself responsibly, finding a balance is crucial. Be pragmatic about buying things like clothes and shop in the sales.
Setting a weekly budget is probably a good idea. Another idea worth giving consideration to could be to take a certain amount of money out at the start of the week and then ensure that it lasts through to the following week. That’s a useful method that has certainly worked for other students in the past and it may just be a case of trial and error. You could print out and fill in a budget planner to help you stay on track.
The organised students among you may want to start an Excel spreadsheet that clearly charts the state of your personal finance, although online banking pretty much does this for you. Possibly the most important factor that goes into making a budget successful is being realistic about how much money you need to live on and then planning accordingly.
If you’ve budgeted the best you can and still somehow find yourself in trouble financially then stay calm and don’t be afraid to ask for help from your university. While hardship loans should always be a last resort, students can at least get some emergency assistance if needed.
Category: Student News