Take control of your money in 3 simple steps – Money Week 2023
The transition from home to uni life can be a really exciting one, especially when a load of money lands in your bank account courtesy of Student Finance. But for many it’s also the first taste of financial independence, and with temptation to spend EVERYWHERE, alongside the responsibility of covering all the important rent and bills payment, it’s easy to see how the craziness of the first term may have left many of you feeling financially unsettled, especially given the recent changes to the cost of living.
If you have overspent during the first few months, try not to panic, you’re most certainly not alone. The great news is it’s never too late to take control of your finances and the Student Advice Service is here to help guide you through the process of making a budget, so you can feel more confident in managing your money moving forward with your university life and beyond.
What is a budget?
Creating a budget essentially means taking a realistic look at all the money you expect to receive and your anticipated outgoings across the academic year. The aim is to balance the two, or better still, to have some money left over in case of emergencies or as savings.
Whether you choose to break this down termly in line with your student funding, or monthly if you also have a wage coming in from part-time work is up to you:
- Start by working out how much finance you will receive during your chosen period of time – g Student funding, part time work, parental contributions.
- Calculate how much you will need to spend on essentials,like rent, bills, travel to uni, food and basic toiletries (the costs you can’t ignore), plus any extra things you might need for your course, like books and course materials.
Don’t forget seasonal or annual costs like Christmas, or if you really need a car, things like your MOT and breakdown cover.
Subtract your outgoings from your income – this will leave you with a figure left over for other non-essential things like going out, gym membership, the odd take away, or to put towards savings. Dividing this figure by the number of weeks in the term/month will tell you what you have to live off week by week.
Once your budget is set, it’s really important to keep track of and regularly review your spending, as there’s bound to be things that you forgot to include that you now need to factor in. You might find this is easiest using a good old-fashioned Excel spreadsheet, but there’s also loads of free apps available to get you started – Money Dashboard, Cleo, Money Lover and HyperJar all allow you to track your finances and manage your overall spending straight from your mobile – some even breakdown spending into categories so you can see which areas you could do with tightening the purse strings on.
You’re only human, so there will of course be times when your temptation to splurge will get the better of you, but try and get back on track as soon as you can, and just be mindful that you may have to tweak your figures the next week or month to get your numbers balanced again.
How far can your money go?
You’ve probably worked out by now that Brighton is an expensive place to be a student, but improving your budget might not be as hard as you think with our top money saving tips:
There are lots of ways to save on travel costs as a student in Brighton. Have a look at our dedicated travel blog for more information and advice.
Be savvy with your food shop
- Towards the end of the day, supermarkets often get out the yellow stickers and heavily reduce items with a short best-before or use-by date. It’s definitely worth a look, even if you put them straight in the freezer for another day.
- Dropping the big brands will significantly reduce your food bills. You may have become accustomed to certain brands whilst living at home, but many own brand goods perform just as well in taste tests, which is not actually that surprising when most of them are manufactured in the same factories as some of the brand leaders.
- Meal planning for the week and writing a list before you go shopping can really help you avoid overspending on unnecessary food and reduce wastage – as can shopping and cooking together if you live in a house share.
Food on campus can be expensive, so make a packed lunch and invest in a reusable water bottle to do your bit for both your wallet and the environment.
Take cash out for the week ahead to avoid overspending
Contactless payments have made it easier than ever to spend money on debit cards, which is great if you have loads of money, but not ideal if you’re trying to keep track of your spending. Withdrawing your weekly budget in cash and leaving your card at home means you know exactly where you’re up to and removes the temptation to overspend.
Set up a bills account
Another way to make sure you always have money for the essentials like rent and bills, is to set up a separate bills account and transfer what you need as soon as you receive your funding or wages. This gives you a clear visual on what you have left to spend day to day. Some of the newer, online banks like Chase, Monzo and Starling also have features for allowing you to split your money into separate ‘pots’, which can be easily managed in one place using their apps.
Let us help you!
If you’re still not quite sure where to start, give us a call on 01273 642888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment with a Student Adviser, and we can help you create a budget that works for you. We can even help you review things further down the line if they aren’t quite adding up, or if an unexpected cost has knocked you off course.
Budgeting is a skill that stays with you for life, so don’t leave it any longer to get on track with your spending. Get in touch today 🙂