Virginia our student intern, shares some of her budgeting tips for newcomers …
Budgeting can be very tricky when you have no previous experience, which will probably be your case if you have just moved away from your parents’. Here are some tips and tricks from me – someone who has not needed to use her bank overdraft in the last three years of uni!
1. Check your Bank Account
Writing a budget can help you keep on top of your finances and this form of planning ensures you know what to expect when it comes to your money. You might find it helpful to keep an eye on your bank balance too and make a habit of looking over your bank statements at least once a week. It is also useful to set targets such as “I’m not spending more than £30 during the week”, this will help you stay focus and not waste money.
2. Shop Wisely
I personally only buy clothes and other “unnecessary” items whenever there are sales on. It’s worth having a look at second-hand stores as you might find cheap and nice goodies! Also, keep an eye on newspapers for deals or check out websites such as My Vouchers, Groupon, Voucher Cloud, to name a few. These can offer a variety of deals and savings.
When it comes to food shopping, trying out a cheaper brand than the ones you’re used to buying at home can help you save a few pounds from your shopping budget each week. Cheaper brands can often taste just as good, or you might even find you weed out some little treasures you haven’t tried before! If you’re living in a house or flat with a big group, you might find useful to buy essential items such as coffee, milk, sugar, bread, oil, cleaning products or toilet paper, together.
3. Use your Student Card
The NUS card is a discount card for students which can give you between 10%-20% discount at a variety of shops, bars and restaurants (up to 50% in select retailers) so is really worth looking in to. The Student’s Union can provide you with advice on how to apply. Before you pay for anything, always ask if the retailer can give your student discount, more business will knock a percentage off the price if you’re a student then those who actually advertise. So you never know if you don’t ask!
4. Loyalty Cards
I would totally recommend you getting stamp loyalty cards, when after buying a certain amount you get one free goody, many coffee and food places do this and it is absolutely worthwhile. However, beware of store cards and their introductory offers, initially these can seem very attractive but they can charge up to 30% interest and quickly become very difficult to manage. Advice and Representation Centre at the Student Union can provide help and guidance on a range on consumer relates issues if you need further advice.
5. Learn to Cook
Please, please, please do not depend on takeaways! Learning how to cook can be cheaper as well as healthier. The more creative you can be in the kitchen, the better for your pocket. There are lots of cooks books and websites that can advise on cheap and easy recipes when living on a student budget. Also, planning your meals and sticking to a shopping list can help you save pounds off your shopping budget each week. Another trick is to freeze meat and fish so that it lasts longer.
6. Make Sacrifices
Bear in mind that you will have to make sacrifices. After a month in university you will realise it is unattainable to eat out every day or go out every night. You will have to adapt your lifestyle to your financial situation which might mean missing out some parties and social events. However, make use of the free activities and places you can visit in Cardiff.
7. Asses your Course Supplies
In first year I spent loads of money on books I only needed to read a couple of chapters from. So, have a chat with your course team before you spend money on expensive material you might not need. Depending on the nature of your programme and the amount of printing you will be required to do, it might be more cost effective for you to purchase your own printer. This was definitely my case, and it was a purchase I do not regret. Look for deals in places like Argos but remember to always check the price of toner cartridges before you chose your printer as they’re not always as cheap as you’d think.
If you need some further help please drop-in and see our Advice & Money team at the Student Support Centre, 50 Park Place (Student High Street) and Cardigan House (Heath Park Campus), or find us the Intranet, to access our full range of support and information.
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Virginia, Student Intern on behalf of the Advice & Money Team
Your Student Life, Supported.
The Student Support Centre has a range of services dedicated to helping students make the most of their time at University, including: Advice & Money, Careers & Employability, Counselling, Health & Wellbeing, Disability & Dyslexia and International Student Support.
The Student Support Centres are located at 50 Park Place, Cathays Campus and Cardigan House, Heath Park Campus.
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