Whether you are a Fresher or a returning student, there are lots of exciting times ahead. However, one challenge that many students face is how to manage their money – something that can easily be avoided with a little guidance and support.
Most people have heard about someone who blew all their student loan on something ridiculous as soon as it arrived, only to spend the rest of term scrounging off people forleftovers. Whilst this is an extreme case, many people struggle financially towards the end of term because they didn’t budget properly at the start. Subsequently, the only options are to turn down social plans or to proceed down the slippery slope of opening an overdraft facility.
Budgeting at the beginning of term can prevent any future worries about money, allowing you to focus on enjoying the University experience instead. It also reduces the chances of needing an overdraft, as well as ensuring there is money set aside for special events such as a society trip, birthdays or a holiday.
Making a budget is simple and only takes a few minutes. All you need to do is add up all sources of income for the term, add up all essential expenditures and then perform two simple calculations. I have illustrated this in the image to the right, as well as providing examples of typical sources of income and common expenditures. Everyone’s financial situation is unique and so it is important to consider whether there are any expenditures that have not been mentioned that may apply to you. I recommend accounting for the holidays too, not just term-time. You may still want an allowance during this period and may also have bills and direct debits to pay.
After figuring out how much money is left after paying for essentials, work out how much money you will have to spend each week. Typically, the essentials this will need to cover are; groceries, laundry and toiletries. Also allow some additional cash for social plans and miscellaneous items.
Now for the fun part! If you have a comfortable weekly allowance, you may want to consider reducing the amount each week by as little as £5 to pay for a special treat. Many people decide to go on holiday when the term has finished to celebrate their hard work. Having amazing holidays on a budget is easy and if you would like to know how, I recommend reading ‘Lovely Holidays: How to Holiday on a Budget’, which is available on Amazon. Additionally, many societies offer trips that may interest you or there might be something a little more expensive you would like to buy. If so, add this cost to your expenditure total and then recalculate your weekly allowance.
Making a budget only takes a few minutes but will make the rest of the term so much more enjoyable. Not only does it reduce any future worries about money, it allows you to enjoy the University experience from the start of term, right until the end.
-Emma Grace Lovely