So, you’ve started at university and you’ve just been given your student loan. Now, what to do first with it?! You’ve suddenly got this large amount of cash in your bank account (if you’re lucky enough to get a nice student loan) and now all you want to do is spend it! You’ve started dreaming about all the clothes you could buy, or games for the Xbox, but STOP! You’ve forgotten that all that money has to last till your next instalment… which isn’t until the middle of January *cue horrified gasp*
You might still have some money spare to go on that shopping spree, but first you need to budget. If you’re like me and the bank of mum and dad is not an option, then here’s how to make sure you have enough till next term.
The best way to budget is to look firstly at how much money you have for each month. Your student loan needs to last through October, November, December and half of January. So that’s around 3 and a half months.
Think: ‘what incoming do I have?’
For example, I have my termly student loan and then a monthly wage from my part time job. Others might have a student loan and then, say, £100 from parents a month. What ever your incoming’s are add these up.
E.g £1500 student loan + £300 from parents = £1800 for the term.
£1800/3.5 = around £515 a month.
This is where you work at everything you need to pay in a month. This includes rent, bills, food and any other luxury items.
Eg. An exemplar outgoings for someone living in towers;
- £280 rent & bills
- £100 on food & takeaways
- £20 phone contract
- £15 gym membership
- £50 on going out
= £465 of outgoings a month. With £515 monthly budget, this would leave this person with £50 a month to spend on whatever they want *cue second horrified gasp*
In some people’s cases however, their outgoings will be higher than what they have incoming. If this is you, here are some helpful tips to save money or get some extra.
- Get a job: The way university timetables work, means there is plenty of spare time to work. You don’t even need to leave campus to get a job, there are plenty of opportunities to work in the bar or shop on campus. Check this link for the latest https://www.essexstudent.com/jobs/student/. A job doesn’t need to take over your life either. I work 10 hours per week and this gets me nearly an extra £300 a month.
- Watch out for offers: Look at what sorts of food you are buying. Are you spending £5 on cheese? There is always cheese on offer for £2-£2.50. You don’t need the expensive stuff! Buy food when it’s on offer. The offers change every 3 weeks so stock up on your favourite stuff. Don’t waste £3 on something that can be £1 when it’s on offer!
- Why not try value food: Tesco has a lot of budget food. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! I often buy Tesco value cereal, pasta (30p) and rice (45p). I will admit I didn’t like the value sweetcorn! But give it a try, you could save a couple of pounds on your shopping bill!
- Watch your spending habits: The £50 & £15 I put on my example for going out & gym is only for if you have the money. If you can’t afford to go out as much as others then don’t. Choose 1 or 2 nights out a week. Some nights out can be as cheap £4 and others can be £10, so choose your nights out wisely. Also look at for early bird tickets, they are always a couple of pounds cheaper.
- You don’t need to spend all your money: Although my budget shows that you may have some money spare, this does not mean you need to spend it all! Save some in case of an emergency, for example if your hair dryer packs up. I brought a laptop with my left over money when my old one broke half way through term!
Now you are all expects in how to budget, go enjoy student life! Remember to keep an eye on your money and don’t avoid checking your bank balance if you know you’ve been on a spending spree!