How to prepare financially while at University


    Being a student can be an exciting but financially challenging phase of life. Balancing tuition fees, textbooks, social activities, and everyday expenses can put a strain on your wallet. However, with the right strategies and a disciplined approach, saving money and building a solid financial foundation is possible. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore practical ways for students to save money, allowing them to navigate the financial landscape with ease and peace of mind.

    1. Create a Budget: The first step towards effective money management is creating a comprehensive budget. Take note of all your income sources, such as part-time jobs or allowances (student finance, scholarships, savings) and list your possible monthly expenses. Categorize your expenses into essentials (e.g., rent, groceries, utilities) and discretionary (e.g., dining out, entertainment). This will help you identify areas where you can cut back and save.

    Illustration: Imagine you have a monthly income or spend of £900, and after listing all your expenses, you realize that you are spending £200 on non-essential items such as eating out and entertainment. You can start building a nest egg by cutting back on these discretionary expenses and reallocating the money towards savings.

    • Track Your Expenses: Keeping a record of your daily expenses is crucial for understanding where your money goes. Utilize smartphone apps or maintain a simple spreadsheet to track every purchase. By doing so, you'll be able to identify spending patterns and make conscious decisions to reduce unnecessary expenses. A friend of mine noted every expense, cash or card, for three years and knew to the letter or should I say to the number his upkeep numbers.

    Illustration: After tracking your expenses for a month, you realize that you spend £50 per week on coffee, hot chocolate, or so from a café near your campus. By making your coffee at home, you can save around £200 per month.

    • Prioritize Saving: Treat saving as a non-negotiable expense. Set a realistic savings goal and set aside a certain percentage of your monthly income. Consider automating the process by setting up a direct deposit from your paycheck to a dedicated savings account. This way, you won't be tempted to spend the money before saving.

    Illustration: If your monthly income is £900, aim to save at least 20% (£160) each month. By automating this process, you'll develop a habit of saving consistently, which will contribute to your financial stability in the long run.

    • Minimize Textbook Expenses: Textbooks can be a significant expense for students. Look for alternatives to purchasing brand-new textbooks at full price. Consider renting textbooks, borrowing from the library, or purchasing second-hand copies from online marketplaces or bookstores. Additionally, explore digital resources and e-books, which are often cheaper or even free.

    Illustration: By renting textbooks instead of buying them new, you can save up to 50% or more on each book. For example, if a new textbook costs £100, renting it for a semester might only cost you £50. Over the course of your studies, this can result in significant savings.

    • Utilize Student Discounts: Take advantage of the numerous student discounts available. Many retailers, restaurants, entertainment venues, and software providers offer discounted rates for students. Always carry your student ID and inquire about available discounts before making a purchase.

    Illustration: Imagine you want to purchase a software subscription that costs £20 per month. With a student discount of 50%, you can save £10 each month, resulting in substantial savings over a year.

    • Cook at Home and Pack Meals: Eating out can quickly eat into your budget. Embrace the habit of cooking your meals at home and packing lunches. Plan your meals for the week, make a grocery list, and shop accordingly. Cooking in bulk and freezing portions can also save time and money.

    Illustration: If you spend £10 per day eating out for lunch, that amounts to £200 per month. By preparing your own meals and packing lunches, you can cut this expense by more than half.

    • Use Public Transportation or Carpooling: Transportation costs can add up, especially if you rely on taxis or ride-sharing services. Opt for public transportation or carpool with fellow students to save money on commuting. Additionally, consider cycling or walking if feasible, not only saving money but also promoting a healthier lifestyle.

    Illustration: If you spend £100 per month on transportation, utilizing public transportation or carpooling can reduce this expense by 50% or more.

    • Embrace Free or Low-Cost Entertainment: University campuses are often teeming with free or low-cost entertainment options. Attend on-campus events, join clubs or organizations, explore local parks, and take advantage of student discounts for movies, concerts, and other entertainment. By embracing these options, you can have an active social life without breaking the bank.

    Illustration: Rather than spending £20 on a movie ticket, consider attending a free movie night on campus or organizing a movie night with friends, where you can split the cost of snacks and enjoy the experience together.

    • Consider Shared Accommodation: Rent can be a significant expense for students. If feasible, consider sharing accommodation with roommates to split the cost. This will not only reduce your monthly rent but also allow you to share other household expenses, such as utilities and groceries.

    Illustration: If your monthly rent is £800, sharing an apartment with two roommates can reduce your individual rent to £400, resulting in substantial monthly savings.

    • Earn Extra Income: Explore opportunities to earn extra income while studying. Look for part-time jobs, freelance work, or online gigs that can fit into your schedule. Tutoring, pet sitting, or offering your skills in areas such as graphic design or web development can be lucrative and flexible options to boost your income.

    Illustration: By earning an additional £200 per month through part-time work or freelance projects, you can significantly increase your savings and have extra funds for emergencies or future goals.

    In conclusion, adopting a disciplined approach to saving money as a student is essential for financial stability and independence. Though everyone's circumstances are different and the cost of living crisis is prevalent, this is a guide to help students to evaluate their lifestyle and put practical measures in place to aid their transitions. By creating a budget, tracking expenses, prioritizing savings, and implementing smart strategies, you can reduce unnecessary expenses and build a solid financial foundation for your future. Remember, every small step you take towards saving money today will have a significant impact on your financial well-being tomorrow.