Some advice on planning your budget while you’re at Uni
Your money never seems to go far enough, and unless you or your parents are well off, there will be times when things get tight whilst you’re at University. Planning and sticking to a budget is a good way to avoid days or even weeks where you can’t lay your hands on any cash – and if you budget wisely it doesn’t all have to be financial pain!
Work Now, Study Later
If you can, work as much as possible leading up to the start of your course and save as much as you can. Sell anything worth selling which you’re not going to take with you, and build up a fighting fund. Calculate roughly what you will need each year and work out how much you’ll have coming in. Ideally, build up the shortfall before you begin, but if you have to work, try to do this early on in your degree.
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Make Your Own Budget
Applications like Excel make it easy to budget so you can keep track month by month and plan ahead.
|Cash in hand||£100.00||Rent||£400.00|
|Total IN||£1,950.00||Total OUT||£806.00|
|Cash in hand||£1,144.00||Rent||£400.00|
Tinker With Your Budget
This example assumes modest savings, and that the first student loan instalment arrives quickly. On first glance it appears that the finances look healthy. However, by the beginning of the third month, cash reserves are already down to around £500, and approximately £800 is needed each month in this example. If the next student loan instalment isn’t due for another month, then either the income needs to increase or the expenditure needs to decrease.
If you begin budgeting £50 a week for food, can this be reduced as the weeks go on? Do you know, for example, when all the end-of-day reductions take place in your local supermarket? Have you checked out local markets? Work out how much an average meal costs and try to reduce this. Examine every cost one by one. Your rent is fixed, but everything else is flexible. Could you spend less on shopping? Could you walk part of the journey to save on travel? Do you have to buy all the books on your reading list, can you borrow some of them? Can you manage without stationary this month, and make do? If you pay utility bills, and you know you have money coming in next month, call them up and ask to make the payment then – lay it on thick if you need to – often a commitment to pay will suffice, but don’t forget to budget this in too.
Plan for the Worst
Always try to have cash in the bank, just in case. At the very least, have £20 hidden away in a book so that if your loan doesn’t go in on time, or your wages are delayed, you don’t have to spend the week walking to Uni on a belly containing only Marmite on toast or no-frills corn-flakes.
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