If you're heading off to university then you're going to be living on a student budget.
Many students get in trouble when they leave home simply because they've never been on their own before.
The temptation to overspend is enormous, especially if you start receiving credit card offers or have friends that pressure you to spend.
Learning how to live on a student budget starts before you leave home. Here are some tips to help you put together a plan.
With a limited food budget, you'll be tempted to purchase unhealthy “cheap” food like chips or takeaways. But, these are often full of empty calories.
Budget cooking from scratch with whole grain bread, pasta, pulses, and fresh fruits and vegetables from a local market which will keep you fuller for longer. And with some savvy shopping, they're just as cheap as the bad stuff.
If you're putting together a student budget then accommodation will be the biggest part of it.
Halls of residence are perfect for first year students and you can lower your costs if you're willing to share a room.
For those renting a house, consider increasing the numbers of tenants to reduce the costs. A three bedroom student house is much more expensive than a house shared with four others. For those doing economics, basically you get 'economies of scale'.
You'll probably be tempted to hit the bars and nightclubs while you're at university.
You'll find plenty of great cheap nights out during 'freshers' week. And although this is fun, it's also really quick way to spend your budget.
You can save by staying in more. Hang out with friends at home and play cards, board games, video games or just talk.
Bills are a fact of life for all of us, even students! At the very least you're going to have bills for your mobile phone, electric, gas, and perhaps even a car payment.
Make a list of every bill you'll have each month. And, make sure there is enough money in the budget to cover everything. Mobile phones especially can get out of hand, so consider switching to a pay-as-you-go plan to keep track of your costs. Once the minutes are used up, they're gone. This will prevent you from overspending.
If you want to save money then avoid shopping trips. Even going out to window shop with friends is dangerous since you're inevitably going to see something you want.
Buy used clothes from charity shops, or make a rule that you'll only buy something if it's on sale.
There's no doubt that textbooks can get expensive. But you can save a bundle here by buying used.
Many universities have on-campus bookstores that resell used textbooks, so look for these first, alternatively talk to the second year students on your course, who might be willing to make some money by selling their books.
The library should also be well stocked, so make use of your library card too.
Many students get in trouble with their money while they're at university. And the problem is compounded because credit card companies heavily solicit offers to students while they're away.
You can stay on track by not signing up for any credit card offers. Usually, it's just too tempting!
Instead, get a prepaid credit card, and refill it every few months.
Living on a student budget doesn't have to be difficult. The biggest challenge will probably be food and frivolous spending. Setting limits and leaving some money in your budget for fun will definitely make life at university easier in the long run!
See the Student Loans Company page for more tips