I have wanted to bring more ‘serious’ topics into my blog for a while (like budgeting) , as behind the aesthetic beauty and lifestyle content I would like to say that I do have a brain and would like to utilise my knowledge with more advice style content. I thought that budgeting as a student is a good topic to discuss, because it has genuinely shocked me how many students my age are just horrendous with managing money. I never really thought that I was good at budgeting, but clearly I am naturally okay and I think I could offer quite a lot of tips. This is a good time of year to read this post as the student loan is beginning to leave your bank account and the overdraft is looming, hopefully this post will save you some pennies. Warning: this is going to be a huge post because I have a lot of advice!
This post features photos from a night out I went on a few weeks ago… which is a bit hypocritical considering nights out all the time at uni is one of the most expensive things to budget in as a student!
I don’t fritter money away easily and if I make a purchase I have considered it carefully and would much rather spend my money on big things rather than a t-shirt here and random makeup item there. I think the mixture of being Yorkshire and also being an economics student has given me the talent of budgeting when I need to! I wouldn’t say I’m frugal, I save in areas to spend in others. I love spending money and shopping for big things, like recently I treated myself to some nice sunglasses and I have booked a few getaways this year but I would rather save day to day to be able to afford the big things when I want them. I aim to save but I will never say no to anything as I know I have the money to be able to do and buy nice things, but thats partly because I have been sensible with money.
Just a little disclaimer before we begin. Nobody is perfect with money and I certainly am not. Budgeting as a student is hard and everyone has that thing that they love spending money on and unfortunately mine is food. I will NEVER turn down a meal out or a takeaway and believe me, that is quite the expensive habit. In reality that £15.00 could have been much better saved and instead you could make a whole meal at home for less than half of that. I can’t help it though, I just love eating out and trying new restaurants. Ubers too… don’t download the app as it just gets so expensive, its just too easy to jump in an uber!
Now onto my tips on how to save your money (and avoid the dreaded overdraft).
Write everything down- My biggest tip for budgeting as a student would be to write everything down, and then by doing that you become conscious of everything that you are spending. Have you written Starbucks down 5 times this week? Then now you know where your money is going. By having to think about wiring everything down, you are naturally going to think more about what you are spending. From this, you will probably make some wiser choices about what you are spending and in the long run be under budget. I don’t do this daily, but I keep all of my receipts and then every few days make a record of what I have spent. It works pretty well!
Budget less money- One of the things that really helped me to budget was actually by budgeting less money than you have available to spend in a week. I say to myself that my budget is £30 less than it actually is, so then that money is saved for when I want to have a date night or its someone’s birthday etc. That way that I am saving as I go along and when I do want to spend quite a lot of money, I don’t feel the pressure on my bank account as much. A good example of when I did this was when we went to see Matilda back in November, as I could easily afford to do that because I used that ‘buffer’ money it didn’t feel that expensive even though the tickets were quite a lot of money.
Meal planning- Meal planning is something that is crucial if you want to save some money. If you plan out your meals then you don’t end up buying wasted items that will end up at the back of the freezer of just go in the bin. Even more importantly, if you haven’t planned out your meals then you won’t have all of the ingredients you need and therefore it makes it so much more convenient to pick up the takeaway menu… which is an expensive habit. Have a rough plan before you go shopping, so that you know what ingredients you need for what meals. I always include one ‘treat’ item per weekly shop as well, which is usually something chocolate based! If you want any more tips on meal planning and budgeting in the food department then you NEED to click here to be redirected to Chloe’s page. She recently did a post on how she can do the weekly shop for £13 and she includes lots of fab tips (plus the photos from this post were taken in my hometown).
Nights out– If there is one thing that students know how to do, its going out. A lot of people go out numerous nights of the week, and obviously this is bound to get expensive. I am not going to be a grandma and tell you not to go out, because thats a huge part of student culture, but there are still little ways that you can manage your money a bit better in the club.
- If you are one that likes a drink, definitely pre-drink before a night out. Drinks when you are there can get super expensive and it is much cheaper (and more fun in my opinion) to socialise and have a few drinks before.
- Do not buy a new outfit every time that you go out. I fell into this trap at first but it is such a waste of money, and quite frankly nobody cares what you wear when you are in the dark. Its about spending time with friends! If you are bored of your wardrobe shop online in the sales (boohoo, misguided and PLT always have sales on) or you could even swap some items with a friend.
- Do NOT use your card in the club. Take it as a safety precaution in case your money gets stolen or you need to get an emergency taxi home, but on the whole do not use your card for drinks. That little piece of plastic makes it feel like you are a millionaire (especially when you are under the influence of alcohol) and in reality you certainly are not. Take some cash out and give yourself a limit of just spending the cash. That way you don’t check your bank account and want to cry the next day.
Travel- Another main place that my money goes is travel. I travel between places a lot and this obviously adds up (trains are expensive!), so I have accumulated a fair number of tips about how to save money if you are a regular train-goer as well.
- Get a railcard! Honestly the amount of people I know that don’t have a railcard and it blows my mind, it only costs £30 and you get a 1/3 off all tickets for a whole year. It takes around £10 off my train from Scarborough to Manchester each time, so its definitely worth investing in one.
- Have a look at differences in train prices across different times. For example the price difference between Leeds to Manchester changes a lot, if I wait an hour I can often get a train for £7 cheaper because it is seen as off-peak. I would rather be an hour later than keep paying more money each time I travel.
- Often when I travel to Manchester I take the coach, because it is a lot cheaper and doesn’t take that much longer than the train. Obviously that is only for a short distance and with long distances it can take a lot longer than a train but if you are travelling a lot I would definitely recommend looking into it to save some money.
- DO NOT get a coffee at the staton every time you travel. It doesn’t seem like a lot but if you are spending £2.30 every single time you travel it will soon add up. I get between 4-6 trains a week typically and if I bought a coffee on every single journey I would be bankrupt by now!
Switch up your accounts- My last tip would be useful if you are really struggling with budgeting as a student and can’t seem to not spend it! I would set up two accounts, one for your immediate money and the other for the rest of your student loan. Then every week you can set up a standing order between the accounts, so you are technically paying yourself a wage each week which is a percentage of your income. That way you can only “see” the money that you have paid yourself and therefore you are less likely to spend it because you can’t. I think this is a really good tip for if you just cannot seem to budget, as this is forcing yourself to spend your money more wisely.
So these are all of my tips and advice. I am sorry for how long this post is, but I just had so much advice to share. If you have any others that I haven’t mentioned, please let me know and I might do a second edition of this blog post. Use a few of these tips and I am sure that you will be saving money in no time. Its so good to start budgeting and saving now if you are going on holiday this year, as you will have so much more spending money than you would have had. Keep a goal in mind and you will get into the swing of budgeting as a student, and it is easy once you get used to it. As always, thank you so much for reading this and supporting me, I’m trying to do some different styles of blog post this year and I hope you are enjoying them. Feedback is always appreciated though!