Financial Planning for the Year Ahead: Budgeting Tips for Students
As we approach the end of the year and the Christmas break, attention will soon turn to January, New Year’s resolutions, and thinking ahead to what is possible in 2024.
One of the most important things that you can do as a student is learn how to budget and live within your means. Budgeting tips for students are very important, as they give you a financial base to work from and allow you to figure out how to buy all of your food and resources for university, whilst also doing the things you love. Whether that’s a hobby or socialising with friends, travelling to different places when you can, and enjoying your life.
Budgeting doesn’t mean you must suck the fun out of your life, but it is the responsible thing to do, so here are some tips on how to make the most of your finances as a student.
1. Set a weekly budget
The first thing you should do, if you are not doing this already, is to set yourself a budget. This could be monthly, daily, whatever you think works best for you, but we find that a weekly budget is the most effective way to control your spending.
Work out how much money you have coming in and break it down into a weekly budget. Within this weekly budget set an amount aside to spend on your groceries, any staples you require for the home, and put aside any travel costs and some spare for socialising.
This can be for some cups of coffee, lunch or dinner one day, or a takeaway at the end of the week.
Different towns and cities will have different costs associated with eating and drinking out and other things, so be aware of the average cost to live in your student city.
2. Use budget tools
You might be the type of person who loves to write down your budget with a pen and paper, but for most of us a good, simple-to-use app is the best way to budget. Apps such as HyperJar or Money Lover provide you with great tools to budget, track your spending and to keep you notified of upcoming regular payments and expenses.
3. Batch cook some simple recipes
One of the best ways to keep control of your finances for the coming year is to think about how you spend money on food.
Living away from home as a student means you must fend for yourself, learn how to cook and buy ingredients within your weekly budget. There are some fantastic recipes that you can cook in batches.
This could be anything from vegetable stews to casseroles, lasagne, a Bolognese or a chilli, Shepherd’s pie, and whatever fires your imagination. Batch cook a big portion that you can cut down into smaller pieces that you can eat over the coming days and week, or freeze (if you have the freezer space) for a later date.
This is a great way to get creative with how you cook, try new things, and look after portion control and food spending.
4. Try to save some money
We realise that this isn’t always possible for every person, but if you have some leftovers out of your planned budget, put it aside into the savings pot.
This could be as simple as putting aside a few pence whenever you purchase an item, and rounding up the change.
For instance, if you buy something that costs £4.37, you could put 63 pence into your savings. You’ll be surprised how quickly these little savings can add up, and for help an app such as Plum can do it automatically for you.
5. Discount for summer accommodation
As far as budgeting tips for students go, thinking ahead to what you’ll do in the summer is a big part of your finances.
If you are not heading home or going away during the summer break, you might want to look into potential summer accommodation options.
It is sometimes possible to stay where you are or in other student accommodation at a discounted price during the summer break when your university is not open.
6. Make the most of student discounts
There are countless student discounts and promotions for you to discover, across a whole host of areas and needs.
Looking for student discounts is a good way to make your money stretch further and to maximise your budget when you get planning.
The January sales are also a great time to look at any items that you need for the rest of the university year, so utilise the sales and student discounts to stock up on much-needed stationery etc.
7. Minimise spending until just before your student loan
If you’ve got a student loan coming in on a certain date, and you have budgeted up until that date, be wary of going on a spending splurge until the day before the loan arrives in your bank account.
That way, if you are tempted to overspend on an item or three, you know that you won’t be left short for longer than 24 hours when your next weekly budget will kick in.
8. Borrow or buy second-hand
If you have a list of books for the semester ahead, and you know that you’ll need them most of the time meaning you can’t necessarily always access them at the university library, look for an alternative.
Textbooks can sometimes cost a lot of money, so before committing to an expensive book, look for second-hand books that you can buy online. Check if there are students from previous years selling their copies, or rent and borrow books wherever you can to keep your costs down.
We hope these few budgeting tips for students will help you on your quest to live within your means as you look to plan for the year ahead this January. It can be daunting to manage your own money when living away from home as a student, but it can be fun, and rewarding, and gives you the chance to maximise everything that you do without getting yourself into financial difficulty!