Starting university is an exciting, overwhelming and unique experience for everyone. From meeting new people to living in new places and a completely different learning experience—there’s so much on the table.
One area that should be given attention, is your approach to finances. For many, university is the stepping stone towards becoming a proper adult. You have more responsibilities and are more accountable for taking care of yourself. So, here we have some useful, insightful tips on budgeting and managing your finances as a university student.
Tip 1 | Start with a Plan
The first step is knowing what you want to do. Do you have a savings goal? Do you just want to ensure you’re not spending more than you have? Set yourself realistic and achievable financial goals and then go about planning how to meet them.
Spreadsheets are a great way to create a visual picture of your cash flow. Record your monthly earnings and overall balance. Set monthly, weekly or even daily budgets. Give yourself some rules to follow and start listing ways you can fulfil those rules.
Tip 2 | Take Advantage of Your Student Card
Having a university student card brings many great benefits. Places at your university as well as franchises and stores outside, offer a range of discounts and savings for university students. It can be something as simple as a 10% discount on coffee or savings on textbooks and other study material.
Any small amount you can save, will definitely go a long way. Don’t be afraid to check which places offer student discounts and do research into what type of savings you are eligible for with your student cards.
Tip 3 | Keep Track & Analyse Your Spending
It is also important for you to be aware of where and how you’re spending your money. Create a little expenditure section in your spreadsheet to keep track of spending.
This is great for visual accountability, but it also gives you the chance to analyse your spending and make improvements for the future. If you notice you are spending a bit too much on eating out, you might need to make more effort with taking packed lunches to University. If you notice that you’re needing more university supplies than you expected, you can move your budget around to increase spending in that area.
This is a great method to help you understand your spending habits and give you insights into how you can better manage your day-to-day finances.
Tip 4 | Plan Your Grocery Shopping & Look Out for Specials
It’s easy to go overboard with the grocery shopping sometimes. To make sure you are not buying more than you need, it is better to create a grocery list before you head to the shops. Whether it’s a physical list to hold as your browse through the aisles, or just a note on your phone that you can cross check before paying at the counter, it’s better to have a plan.
Many grocery stores also have sales and specials on at various points of the year. Follow their social media or subscribe to email alerts, so you know what these specials are. It’s always a good idea to stock up on non-perishables when there’s a sale for significant savings.
Tip 5 | Second-hand Options
Another great way to save money, is to opt for second-hand items instead. From textbooks, to clothes and even furniture, there’s many choices even when going second-hand. Your local op-shops are a great place to check out for clothes, books and homeware items. Websites like gumtree and giveaway Facebook groups, are great for second-hand furniture. Plus, there’s always garage sales and second-hand markets that pop up from time to time.
Buying items from these places can save you anywhere between 20-70% off retail price so it’s definitely worth going a bit off the beaten track.
Start small and work your way from there
Budgeting can seem like a huge task and you can feel slightly out of depth. However, the key takeaway is that you should start somewhere and be diligent about maintaining thrifty habits. Even if it’s just limiting your weekly spend or committing to takeaway food only on the weekends. Any start is a good start. And before you know it, you’ll become a budgeting whizz.