by Amy Jones
Starting university is a big step for many students and, for a number of new students, this is the first time that they are responsible for their own finances. It’s important that, as a new student, you take some steps toward becoming financially savvy and learn how to manage your in and out goings.
The topic is at the forefront of a lot of people’s minds and, with the cost of living crisis, looking after your money as a student can be worrying, especially if you haven’t done it before. It can feel like a huge responsibility to move away from your family and live on your own, especially when money comes into the mix.
But, remember that there have been millions of students going through the university process who have also had to deal with this new and intimidating situation, so you’re not alone! There is plenty of help and advice out there to help you learn more and manage your finances. Let’s take a look at 3 ways you can look after your finances as a student.
Set A Budget Each Month
Being organised with your finances is one of the biggest factors when tracking and managing your spending. Being able to keep track of what comes in and leaves your account each month is important, as it means you can monitor your spending and know when something isn’t quite right.
Tracking bills such as your phone contract, app subscriptions and food shops means that you can then set budgets for spending money that you can then use to go out or set aside for fun activities. Being responsible with how you spend your money is important, too. For example, spending £20 per week on food and then bulk-making meals to eat later in the week or to put in the freezer can make a huge difference to your shopping costs.
There are a number of budgeting apps you can use to get better insight into your spending, or you might consider using an alternative bank card, such as Monzo, to manage your day-to-day spending which is separate from your bills. It’s important that, when you are looking to budget, you create a budget and stick to it as best you can.
Increase Your Income
It’s easier said than done, but getting a part time job can help massively with how well you manage your finances. Lots of students choose to undertake part-time work alongside their studies and, as well as gaining extra financial income, it can give you invaluable work experience. All students are entitled to some level of student finance, but it can vary massively, so having a part time job gives you some extra money that can be used on top of the money which you are entitled to.
If you do get a part time job, remember that it’s important to prioritise your studies over picking up an extra few shifts, and be sure to set time aside where you’re not studying or attending lectures or working, so that you can relax and unwind in between. Hospitality jobs are easy for students to pick up and most are naturally flexible around typical student hours. As well as this, larger chain companies have contracts in place specifically for students, giving you an extra level of protection from zero hours and poor contracts.
Avoid Financial Quick Wins
It’s completely normal for students to have a part time job and still sometimes struggle with their finances. Whether it’s because you’ve spent a bit more on a food shop this week, or have gone out a few more nights than normal, there will come times when you have less income to cover your outgoings. It’s important that, when these times do come, you don’t make any rash financial decisions.
You should especially avoid getting involved in so-called financial quick wins, such as gambling, trading or pyramid schemes, especially if you are inexperienced. These avenues can seem tempting, with the promises of big returns, but often they are designed to encourage people to lose their money as opposed to winning. Many students turn to betting or gambling when times get tricky in terms of finance, often thinking they can quickly turn £20 to £200, but this is rarely the case. Instead, many find themselves becoming addicted to gambling and losing money in the long term.
With investing and trading, this is something that, long-term can see a return on your investment and shouldn’t really be used for short-term financial gain. It’s easy to lose money when investing, especially if you’re not experienced, plus many forms of crypto and forex scams are targeted towards new and inexperienced traders, so if you do take this approach, be sure to navigate with caution and avoid investing too much straight away.
It can seem daunting, but these tips should help put your mind at ease when it comes to money. It is a huge worry for many students starting university. It all comes down to taking responsibility, but also remembering that you’re only at university once and having fun (in moderation and within budget!).