For most of you, this will be the first time in your life that you’ve had to budget for yourself, and it’s tempting to get carried away with the first drop of your maintenance loan.
Yes, looking at your bank account and seeing thousands is exciting, but now isn’t the time to get silly with your newfound riches.
Every time your loan comes through, we recommend putting a bit aside. Shove it in a savings account, drop it into an ISA, or take it out in cash and put it in a piggy bank; whichever way works for you.
Keeping a set amount aside every month means that – in the event that you go ham in the Topman sale and realise (too late) that you’re running low on food – there’s a safety net there.
Not only that, but saving a little every month is a great habit to get into. As an adult, saving isn’t easy. If you train yourself to budget with only 90% of whatever comes in, for example, you’ll be able to continue that trend with your future wages.
The wheels on the bus…
This is a big one – travel in the UK is expensive. Newcastle is a small city, make the most of your proximity to campus and walk.
If you’re planning on going home for a weekend, book a coach instead of taking the train. The journey will be longer, but for long distances, it’s much cheaper even if you have a railcard.
Take advantage of discount schemes
In the UK, students are eligible for an NUS Extra card, as well as memberships with discount apps like Unidays and Student Beans.
Take advantage of these! They’re free and can offer you some great discounts that we’re sure will come in handy.
Unidays offer the following all year-round:
• 10% off Apple products
• Apple Music for £4.99 per month
• Spotify for £4.99 per month
• 10% off Iceland groceries (in store)
Student cards also extend to many city-specific discount schemes. Check around your university to see if local bars have special reductions for students.
Plan, plan, plan
There’s really no excuse for not budgeting, or at least trying to learn how budgeting works. You’re setting the standard for your future financial management skills now, so you may as well put the work in!
Use an online budget planner; work through it with a friend or family member; ask a guidance counsellor for advice… the ways you can take responsibility for your own finances are endless.
Plus, restricting yourself to a maximum spend each day (or week), for example, will teach you how important it is to abide by your own rules and live within your means.
Learn to cook!
Food is expensive, especially when you eat out all the time. This can slip under the radar, especially if you’re not going out for huge three-course meals all the time.
“How am I spending so much on food?” you’ll ask yourself, over and over again.
Take a closer look at your spending habits. Maybe you’re all-too-often entranced by the tuna pasta pots in the uni canteen, or you’ve realised you’re a bit of a sucker for a post-lecture cheeseburger.
Yes, even saver menu items add up… and nobody wants to realise they’ve spent £200 on cheeseburgers this term alone.
By learning to cook, you’ll save yourself a lot of money. We’re not saying it has to be gourmet – communal kitchens aren’t the best places for experimental recipes – but if you consider maybe making enough pasta to last a week and then topping it with something different each day, you’ll find yourself making pretty extensive savings.
And, hey! Maybe you’ll inspire the rest of your flatmates to cook, too. Someone’s got to step up and make the first communal pasta bake.