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Budgeting for University: Our Tips

So you’ve done the hard work, you’ve got into Uni, and you’re all set to go! Congratulations! There’s just the little matter now of making your money work for you. It’s not as tricky as it seems, we promise, and if you follow our simple guide, you’ll have it sorted in no time and what’s more, it’ll do you a world of good learning how to manage money for your future career in finance! Win-win.

Make a Spreadsheet

This is something that I wish I’d known at University and I know it feels like a massive deal to set up a spreadsheet for your finances, but it really is a good idea. With a big maintenance loan all coming in at once, and a long term ahead – its 100% the best way of making sure you don’t run out of money half way through November and end up exclusively eating Monster Munch and Tesco Value Garlic Bread for a month. (This might sound fun but you will end up getting Scurvy and no one should be doing that in this day and age.)

Consider Two Accounts

For the financially sound student, two accounts are gold dust. Some banks offer this when you join them, like NatWest, but you can just as easily open another one up.  It’s worth having one account for essentials like rent, food and living costs and another for your non-essentials, so that you don’t end up burning your rent money on cheap doubles and society payments, which has the potential to leave you in at the deep end without armbands. It also defends you in case of losing your card or having your account hacked – while this is recoverable, it can take some time and it’s good to have a back up option.

Remember the Essentials

Food. Washing costs. Insurance. Toiletries. These things are non-negotiable. It’s just not worth not having them, because you will end up hungry, smelly or screwed. Everything in the University world just is better when these four things are part of your life. Budget for them – you’ll want to do one wash a week as a minimum, insurance can be secured for a great deal if you take the time to scout around and toiletries are something you should be able to work out a rough cost for (or buy them in bulk at the beginning of term, they’re not going to go out of date). Food is one that’s up to you, but use the spreadsheet, and follow the rules which everyone suggests (cook for four and freeze the excess, don’t impulse purchase, don’t buy all your meals from the kebab joint opposite halls) and you should be right as rain.

Books and Stationery

This is something that lots of people mess up. Buying textbooks is a tricky business because they’re expensive and pretty niche. The good news is that lots of students are selling them at a discount. The bad news is that often Universities ask you to buy them before term starts and read them over the summer. We’d advise a mix of both – find some of the cheaper essential reading and see if you can locate second-hand versions over the summer. If you can’t, save your money and hold out – we guarantee there will be somewhere to buy them once you’re there and the library will almost certainly stock everything you need in the meanwhile. Buy your stationery in advance and remember to take your degree into account – if you’re studying something with numbers in it, it might be best to get yourself a proper calculator in advance to stop an expensive impulse buy one week into term.

These are just a few tips to get you on your way, and the Internet is chock-a-block with everyone’s opinions on the subject. But if you’re sensible, plan ahead and stick to your guns on financial issues, you’ll be fine. And if you haven’t got enough to fuel that party-hard lifestyle, there are loads of part-time jobs to be had at University - have a look around and make yourself some pocket money!

By Jack J Collins, Editor, AllAboutFinanceCareers.com