How to get on top of your finances
Managing your own money for the first time can be daunting, but we’d like to share a few simple steps that you can take now, to help you gain the financial independence you’ll need, not only during your years as a student, but on into life after you graduate.
It can be really tempting to have a blow-out as soon as your Maintenance Loan arrives, but with rent and bills to pay, and the increasing cost of daily living, there’s no better time to get in control of your finances, and creating a budget is a great way to do that.
What is a budget?
A budget is essentially a plan for how you intend to organize and spend the money you have, so you can limit your chances of running short and ending up in debt.
You can choose to break this down termly, monthly, or even weekly, depending on what works for you and the payments you have coming in and out.
- Start by working out how much finance you’ll receive during your chosen time period – this could be from student funding, part-time work, parental contributions etc.
- 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).
Don’t forget to also factor in any extra things you might need for your course, like books and course materials, and annual costs like your MOT or insurance if you rely on a car.
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, Netflix subscriptions, or to put towards savings.
Dividing this figure by the number of weeks in the term/month will give you an idea of what you have left to live off week by week.
Once your budget is set, make sure you keep track of and regularly review your spending. Whether you’re a whizz with a spreadsheet, or prefer an old school pen and paper, you can make it work for you. Take some time to check over bank statements to see where your money is going.
There’s also loads of free apps, like Money Lover and HyperJar, that 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 in which areas you could do with tightening the purse strings.
If you do find you’re overspending, don’t panic, just try and get back on track as soon as you can, and be mindful that you may have to tweak your figures the next week/month to get your numbers balanced again.
Making your money go further
Brighton is an expensive place to be a student, but here’s a few of our top money saving tips to help your money stretch that bit further.
There’s lots of ways to save on travel costs as a student in Brighton.
- Unizone ticket – Unlimited discounted rail travel for students in and around Brighton, Worthing and Eastbourne.
- Buying a 16-25 Railcard will save you 1/3 on train travel across Great Britain. This also applies to mature students in full-time education.
- Student discounts are also available across Brighton & Hove Buses and Stagecoach
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 or take in left overs, 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 overspend. 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 splurge.
Set up a bills account
Another way to make sure you can cover your 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
We look forward to meeting many of you over the next few weeks as part of Belong at Brighton but you can give us a call on 01273 642888 or email email@example.com to make an appointment with a Student Adviser at any time.
We can help you create a budget that works for you, or help you review your budget further down the line if things aren’t quite adding up, or 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.