Money is clearly an important thing to you. Even if you hate money and have never had to deal with it, it’s bound to be a big deal now. If it’s becoming a pain, or if you don’t want to get yourself in a tight spot, here are 7 things you should do to sort your financial situation out. In my next post, I’ll be featuring 7 things you need to steer clear from.
- Find cheaper ways to drink – I have to put it here. So best to get it out of the way first! A good number of students are rather happy with drinking in various quantities. If you’re not one of them, count yourself lucky. When I had money on me, I certainly used some of it on alcohol. Alas, I didn’t often have much money! So, I had to find ways of drinking on less cash, such as buying beers in bulk at the supermarket and enjoying a couple of drinks before venturing out for the night. It’s also possible to buy one or two bottles of spirits (if your budget will stretch that far) so you’re not tempted by a costly wee dram when you’re out. If you regularly drink shots, it’s definitely better to do that with your own bottle…a group of you could buy a different bottle each and enjoy things regularly without spending anything like as much. You’ll also have something to offer to your mates, which always goes down well!
- Keep tabs on your spending – How much do you spend on your weekly shop? Do you top it up every day on more food? How much does a night out cost you? If you aren’t asking yourself these questions about your spending, best start now. You’re not helping yourself if you keep your head in the sand. If you spot any habits where you can’t help yourself, it’s in your best interests to make a note of it and see what you can do about it. It’s often quite simple to make a few changes for the better. And if you need help with some spending issues, speak to your Student Services or similar. You’ll be able to get help with the problem and there are also last resort funds and loans available to some of you. Do think of it as a last resort though, and definitely never spend all your money while imagining the money is just there for you. Your situation will be looked into, so if you’ve wasted all the money on clothes, you’re not going to be given any financial help. There will still be plenty advice to help get you back on track though, so don’t ignore it completely, even if you have got into a bad situation yourself.
- Be flexible – Leave an expensive purchase for when you’re better equipped to afford it. We may live in a culture of instant gratification, but a little patience is not only healthy, but also helpful to enjoying your purchase even more when you can finally afford it. Yes, it’s difficult to manage this, but you have to sometimes. It’s just one of those things. Get used to it, because it’s just the way things are from now on. Well, unless you become insanely rich on a grand entrepreneurial idea. Best of luck with that!
- Be realistic about accommodation – We’d all like the biggest en-suite room with every extravagance available, but it’s just not within range to all students. Even if you could just about afford the best thing around, it might make sense to get the second best thing and save a bit of money for other things. Your room, whether on campus or in private accommodation, is certainly an important choice, so think carefully. If all you’re looking for is a place to sleep and do very little else, why bother with anything fancy? However, if it’s to be your main study area, private sanctuary, and getaway from everything else, it’s worth thinking about the best and most comfortable place. Whatever the score, your accommodation costs a lot of money, but in varying amounts. From £40-50 a week, through to £130-140 in some extreme cases (or London!). So do your thinking, do your sums, and do your best to find accommodation that’s right for your life and for your pocket.
- Budget – There are two fantastic resources that do the same thing, but very differently. See which one you like best. The first is The Student Calculator. You can note down everything you think you’ll spend, or want to stick to. It’s very helpful and part of the charity UNIAID. The other budget resource is not specifically for students, but the MoneySavingExpert Budget Calculator has got most aspects of your probable spending available to note down and may be preferred by some of you. A downloadable spreadsheet is also available, so you can keep on top of your budget as often as you wish, with the greatest of ease. Beginning a budget may be an eye-opener for some of you, but well worth it.
- Keep a log of payments, bills, amounts owed, etc. – This will help you avoid fines for one thing. You might be surprised just how many encounters there are with fines for no other reason than forgetting to pay or do something in the first place. Keeping track of what you need to pay is also important so you remember how much money in the bank really can be used by you. It could be a disaster if you forget a huge payment and end up spending loads that you thought was safe to spend. It happens, so always note down what you’ve paid and what’s still remaining.
- Check my post on buying your groceries – GROCERIES ON A GRANT… – Food is important and even recent Freshers can tell you that beans on toast and the occasional luxury treat of pasta and sauce is boring (and not the best thing to maintain a balanced healthy eating regime).