Monday, 21 March 2016

Regine's money-saving tips

Hi! My name is Regine and I'm a Hong Kong student here at Sheffield working as an International Office Ambassador. You can find out more about me from 
my profile

Every student starts off with the struggle of overspending, I remember my first month in Sheffield where I had to sheepishly and shamefully ask my parents for more money halfway through the month, way ahead of schedule. But the question is how to combat this? How to be so money savvy that you not only end up spending within budget and even saving money? After two years here in the University of Sheffield I’d like to say that I know, and can tell you how:

Homemade food with friends can be much
more economical than restaurants!
Keep in mind how much money you have
If you have a student loan, a weekly or monthly allowance, or even if you are using your own money remember how much money you have. There’s no point in thinking you have more money than in your account because that is the first step to failure.

Think of all the fixed costs you will be spending
Set a budget for the fixed costs, maybe a certain allowance for groceries, maybe new necessities you need to buy, money you may be spending on birthdays, etc. Take this of money out of your total amount 
and you’ll be left with an approximate number that you can actually spend.

Divide that money into the days / weeks that you have
Once you divide the remaining amount by the days or weeks you have left, you suddenly realise how to budget – to have a clear framework and remember you only have 30 or 40 pounds a week gives you a good understanding of how to use your money and where you can use it.

Use one of those money planning apps
When you see where all your money has gone it will help you budget it next time – maybe you don’t need to buy lunch on University campus but instead bring it from home and save that five quid! Also, it helps with the point above, if you only have thirty pounds every pound, every 10p suddenly makes an impact!

Try using cash instead
Having only a set amount of cash in your wallet will help you see how much you can spend, since having it on card can make everything just a little hazy – I have definitely thought to myself ‘oh its alright I have money in my card’ and then went onto next week’s allocated amount of money.

Make use of student discounts!
Getting out your UCard or NUS extra card (if you have one) at shops is really useful, even if you think they don’t have a student discount it helps to check to be sure. I can’t even count the times I’ve managed save the little 15% or 10% here and there, which totally adds up to a significant amount.

Going for a coffee with friends once in a while is totally fine
Do treat yourself though!
Sometimes unexpected events will come up, and don’t let your finances stop you from having fun! Your friends want to go for a nice meal? Go for it, just maybe cut down on something the next week. The international food stalls are open in the city center? Go for it - just treat yourself! Once again, cut down a little bit the following week or few days. Theres no problem in spending a little bit on that extra thing you really want from a shop that you’ve had your eye on for ages, just save up and get it!

If you can, just put some of it away
It really helps to put some money away into another account that can’t be easily accessed. There has been so many times where I’ve looked in my bank account and breathed a sigh of relief to see that 30 pounds just sitting nicely away in the corner, because then I could buy something nice or save up for another time or emergencies. Its good to not be able to see that money since it then doesn’t tempt you to use it, resulting in that nice sight at the end of the month.

Hopefully these tips all help you to budget your expenses a little better, I’m not going to lie and say I follow all of these all the time but when I do, it really does make a big difference. Suddenly becoming independent and self sufficient can be hard when you come to university, but just remember its practice for the future and you can only get better at budgeting!

By Regine Cheung
International Office Ambassador for Hong Kong

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