As a student, whether you are studying abroad or studying somewhere a little ways out from your hometown, if you are living on your own or with flatmates and housemates, it is important to stay on top of your finances and your expenditure. Living life as a student is often considered to be a sort of ‘half-way point’ between childhood and adulthood as it gives a semblance of responsibilities; dealing with your own bills, cooking food, cleaning clothes etc., without having to overly ‘stress’ you out with the full responsibility of working every day in order to cover the cost of those bills.
Every student is given a ‘student loan’ with which they should use to pay the monthly bills and rental costs, pay for travel and food and for educational supplies. Some people have likened it to being on benefits, but you are using them to study a certain subject and gain a better understanding of that subject in order to prepare for a future career. However it can be easy to get caught up in the spending spree that many people find themselves in when given seemingly ‘free’ money. It is important not to leave university in more debt than expected as overdraft funds can stack up and look a lot more intimidating when you have to pay them from out of your own pocket.
Here are five simple steps which will hopefully help all students, whether undergrads, senior students or seasoned professionals returning for a masters, to keep on top of their finances.
1. Give yourself a Monthly Budget (and write it down!)
By setting yourself a monthly limit you give yourself a certain amount of money to play around with, while at the same time not ‘overspending’. If you set it a little below what you get, you get a little wiggle room but of course it is always better to put a little bit of money aside for savings. Take a look at a general week of expenditure. How often do you eat out? Do you often have to buy university supplies? Are there any ways in which you could cut down on spending? You need to look at it objectively rather than just living month by month.
It is also good to remember that there will be times where you need a bit of extra cash (birthdays, Christmas etc.) so giving yourself a monthly budget allows you that extra money in case of emergencies.
2. Get a Part Time Job
If you finds your student loan is not quite covering your leisurely expenses, then perhaps it is time to start looking for a part time job. Countless students have part time jobs as there are many workplaces that provide hours to fit around studying, so there is no excuse not to try if you find yourself strapped for cash every now and then! It also gives you a good idea of earning your own money, and the effort it takes to earn a certain amount.
3. Don’t take your card with you!
On a night out it can be incredibly easy to just put it all on the card and worry about it later, but as the night goes on you may find yourself becoming a little more ‘generous’ with your spending, particularly if you’re buying drinks for others. Don’t take your card with you on these occasions and put a set amount of cash aside in a secret pocket if you need funds for the taxi home.
4. Set up a DD for Rent and Bills
By setting up a Direct Debit, you won’t have to worry about not having enough funds for the rent and bills when it comes to pay. Once your student loan goes in, the DD will immediately take money out for your rent and bills, leaving you with the amount remaining. Another good idea for this is to set up a separate account for the housing rent and bills and to pay a direct debit into this account.
5. Buy in Bulk (and never shop when hungry)
Always shop on a full stomach! Shopping when hungry is the worst time as you often buy more expensive things that are at least slightly relevant to whatever you happen to be craving at the time. Also, because you are hungry you will find yourself buying sandwiches or ‘quick’ food, which can be more expensive than food you have to prepare and cook. Buy in bulk where possible and don’t ever take a trip to the shops with an empty belly.
At the end of the day you are bound to slip up every now and then; this is one of the reasons banks give out a free overdraft for student accounts, to a certain extent. However the important thing is not to rely on that overdraft as a means of sustaining your own lifestyle. If you get stuck in your overdraft, it becomes harder and harder to get out of that overdraft even when you do get your student loan come in.
By sticking to a budget and cutting down on the spending when times are hard, not only do you help reduce stress from staying out of your overdraft, but this also gets in good practice for the ‘real world’ when you won’t have such a large safety net to protect you from slipping into the red once you have finished your studies. It is all helpful stuff when preparing yourself for an adult’s life of paying bills and having to ‘save up’ for things.
Article provided by www.solution-loans.co.uk, a technology-led finance broker that aims to provide a broad range of personal finance products, and the information / tools necessary to help you find the most suitable type of credit.