Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Tips on How to Manage Your Student Budget

One of the most common questions I get asked from other students is:

"How much do I need to survive at University? Especially, in the UK?"

It is understandable that money issue will not only be your biggest worry, but also for your parents. I am here to tell you that a student budget is possible, if you know how to manage your money. While it can be hard at the beginning, given the fact that you need time to settle down and buy new things. You will realize that as you get into your routine, you would begin to differentiate what you need and you want.




1. Keep track of your money

The first thing to budgeting money is to know where your money goes. So, keep track of it. Have a log book to keep the flow of your money, or simply retain the receipts from the shops. I prefer the digital method, where I log into my bank account online and I can view my transactions each month. It is easier and more practical.

2. Keep a limit on how much you spend

Put a limit on yourself on how much you want to spend each week or each month, on your preference. I find it easier to do it by month, as sometimes you do need to splurge for groceries on certain days. Once I have settled in Sheffield, I realized that I only need about £250 each month on food and a bit of social, and most of the time, I don't even spend all the money up and bring it forward to the next month.

3. Keep a shopping list

It's easy to catch yourself making a shopping spree and only to realize that you do not even need some of the things that you bought. Tip: Make a shopping list before you leave the house. That way, you already have in mind what you need. Do you really need to buy that shoes? Also, have the power to resist yourself when you find yourself falling into buying something you do not need. Take a step back and ask yourself if you really need it.

4. Keep finding cheap stores/discount codes/membership cards

Did you know if you buy from ASOS, you are qualified for a student discount of 10%? Amazon does the same offer too (but be wary of their membership policy, you need to cancel it!). There is also a NUS card, which you need to register and pay a fee, but gives you lots of offers and discounts - not only for buying things but also travelling.

Keep an eye out on discount and offers at shops. Sometimes it is cheaper to get another brand than what you want. I'm not sure about other countries but the good thing about most UK grocery stores, they would state the cost per unit for each product. I always use this as a determinant for buying the cheaper products.

5. Keep what you need for emergency

Best advice from my mum: Always keep some money aside for emergency. You never know when you need it. So, even if you have surplus from the previous month, do not use it all up. Save it up. In case you need the extra money, you do not have to worry because you are secured. The worst thing about being a student is running out of money. Also, having a habit of saving money is good too.

I managed to save enough money during my final year to go on for a Europe trip (interrailing). I went on to visit 13 cities! So it is possible if you save properly.

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If you follow these steps, you will be on your way in accomplishing your ideal student budget! Know what you want and need, as it is different for every person. However, at the same time, do not be afraid to spend on yourself occasionally. It is all about balance: knowing when to draw the line.

Hope these tips would help you this coming September and for the rest of your course!


Qamarina Almas
International Office Ambassador for Malaysia

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