I was recently on the app Yik Yak -for those of you who are unaware of it think of an anonymous Twitter – where a lot of students in the area were asking advice on budgeting. Now as I’m sure you are all aware, budgeting isn’t my strongest point but I can do well when I try hard enough.
Tonight I calculated that I have roughly £30 a week until I get my next student loan in. However I had calculated at the start of the semester that I would aim to use only £20 a week from that account as I wanted to treat my second account as a savings account. There are many bits of advice for us all out there on how to save money but not all are easily put into practice. For example, take me in my 4 bedroom HMO flat in Glasgow, 2 minutes away from the main university building. Our rent each is £400 monthly, due on the first of each month. Then you have bills on the first as well, amounting to £25.50 each at this point in time. Finally, on the 20th of each month, the wifi and phone bill hits the bank accounts too. Luckily as students we don’t pay council tax, and we don’t watch tv so don’t need a licence for that either. So as I said, this leaves roughly £20 a week if I have no part time job (which I don’t) and if my parents can’t help me out which quite frequently is the case. I would love to take this post and use it as a chance to vent about the government and the cost to students but I shall save that for another time.
Now, to be honest, I rarely manage a week for less than £20, whether it’s due to nights out or snacking or whatever the cause. My technique, which currently seems to need improvement, is to plan food for the week, make a shopping list and stick to it. Here is the first flaw – how many of us are tempted by other items when we go shopping? I know the minute I see crisps at half price I’m over there as quickly as possible. It’s even better when soft drinks are on offer. But I’ve never questioned whether this is economical. Now you can argue that if I buy a 6 pack of crisps or Coke or something similar they would last me a week roughly. Except you’re forgetting I have no willpower whatsoever. They’re usually gone by the end of the second day if they’ve even survived the first.
The second problem with my technique is that I get bored or want something completely different when the time comes to make Thursday’s dinner. One week I attempted to move around this problem by cooking everything at the weekend and freezing it in portions for the next few days. However I still have 2 random portions of curry in the freezer that need used and I’m sure they’ll be there for a while! To continue saving money, I try and shop in the reduced section of the shops. This can sometimes be a very good opportunity and at others it seems a waste of time.
Each week I decide I am going to cut out snacking and the money wasted on it but then every week I find myself wandering to the shop and looking for something sweet to placate my sweet tooth – right now I am craving Irn Bru and nothing is taking away that urge. I don’t go out frequently and so that doesn’t cost me, or when I do go out I stick to a budget of whatever cash I have on me at that time. This is actually a plan that works for me! Numerous friends have the problem the next day, waking up hungover and realising they used their card to either buy a round or lift cash out of an ATM, normally one that charges for your transactions. Thankfully I have so far been spared this sting.
This recommendation stretches to your budget – only use cash. It can be difficult at times but we all know someone who never carries cash and when they do it’s a massive shock. Don’t be that person. The minute you start using real money in your hands, you acknowledge the amount you’re handing over for that “very necessary” new eyeliner.
Take advantage of any loyalty cards you can get access to. My tesco card saves me about £5 a month which probably doesn’t seem much but every little helps. One of the benefits of registering with them is you are provided with 2 key fobs and a card much like your credit card and so these can be distributed amongst your family to ensure you get the best deals possible.
Have you any suggestions? Let me know below!
Update – April 2020
Going back through some of my earlier posts, it surprised me that I had written this one as early into my student life as I did. Continuing on from here, if you haven’t found this post as helpful as you had thought, please feel free to check out my more recent post about the relationship between a student and their money written in January 2017 – The Cost of Being a Student.