Here’s a little guide to managing a budget, with life at uni in mind. At uni it’s common to worry about money, suddenly living and shopping for yourself with often little previous experience of this. I frequently hear people talking about being in their overdrafts whilst carelessly flitting away their money on junk food and a new pair of shoes they’ll wear only once. So, from a frugal cheapskate, here’s some tips on how to save money.
The biggest tip I can give is to manage your budget with an excel spreadsheet
Not only does this give you a clear guide on what money you have coming in/out of your bank account, but seeing the numbers change as you withdraw/add money to your account can be a real motivator to saving money. It’s also an easy way to start using excel and building your knowledge and skills of this Microsoft Programme, which many graduate employers expect from you.
To add the automatic maths magic and not be calculating totals all the time, use the SUM tool in any Totals boxes. For example, in my Expenditure Total for December the cell’s information is =SUM(B4:B7) . The month’s total altogether is =SUM(B8-B17). It’s a little confusing at first, especially if maths is not your interest, but there’s tons of guidance on google to help.
I like to be harsh on myself and restrict my spending to £250 a month excluding rent and bills and write everything down that I spend. I also don’t fill in my work wages until they’ve been paid into my bank account. This gives me more motivation to save my money which is especially important for funding my year abroad next year! Of course, set yourself a budget that’s right for you and spend what you’re comfortable with. If you need more motivation to control your spending habits, it can help to mentally compare the costs of a tempting item to something else the money could be spent on. For example, whenever I want to spend £7 on a pizza at the uni bar after a Quidditch practice I remind myself that that could be spent on a bus ticket to somewhere cool when I’m in America. I also like to set compromises on what I spend. If I’m spending £3 on a return bus ticket I’ll take a packed lunch instead of buying from the uni shop and if I walk to uni I’ll let myself indulge in warm store brought lunch. If you find late night runs to the shops are causing your purse to lighten and your stomach to bulge it can also help to busy yourself until closing time. As a distraction from the M&Ms and jars of Nutella in the Tesco shop two minutes from my house, I like to force myself to wait until its 10.55 – and then go for a shower.
Whatever your financial status, thinking about your weekly and monthly budgets is a great skill to have and will help in the future after you graduate when it’s goodbye student finance and hello earning all your money!