Welcome Week is a busy time. You’ve got people to meet and places to be, schedules to learn and forms to fill out. You want to be making new friends, joining clubs, and buying all the textbooks and course materials you’re going to need — trying to get it all done, and managing your money at the same time, can really make your head spin.
So we’re going to take a look at some short, sharp, and simple steps you can take to help budget better, and to help you stay on top of things as you start your studies this semester.
1. Think ahead and make a plan
For a lot of new students, Welcome Week is a time when you’ve just received a bunch of money from your student loan — sometimes, it’s more money than you’ve ever had at once. That money has to last you for the rest of term, but the temptation to splurge can be intense. That’s why it’s so important to plan ahead.
Take stock of everything you’re going to be spending money on: textbooks and other course materials; money for accommodation, groceries, and other essentials; cash to spend for a night out with your friends.
Then, write it all down so you can refer back to it. When you know what to expect, you’ll be better prepared, and you’ll know how much you need to put aside to make sure your costs are covered.
2. Keep an eye out for ways to save
There are so many ways to save, if you keep your eyes open and look for opportunities. The list below isn’t comprehensive, but it’s a starting point for where to look and what to do to cut back on your costs.
- Check for student discounts wherever you can, and you can take advantage of some great deals.
- Buy in bulk, make bulk meals, and plan ahead. You’ll save money on grocery costs and reduce the temptation to order takeout, too. That’s good for your belly and for your budget.
- Split costs with friends, family, flatmates, or fellow students. There might be textbooks or other course materials you can share, and the same goes for other expenses.
- Most importantly: always check the library. There are so many resources available, and so many of them are free to use. You might not be aware of the full extent of what the library has to offer, so check it out — librarians are there to help.
3. Don’t forget to live a little
It never pays to be too hard on yourself, even when it comes to budgeting — if your budget is unrealistic, you’ll never follow it. It’s better to stick to a generous budget than to have a strict budget that you ignore.
Besides, managing your money is meant to help you enjoy life, including the little things. The point is to take charge of your money so you can spend it the way you want to, so you have enough to be able to enjoy what you earn.
Something to keep in mind, though: when Welcome Week comes, there are businesses who know that new students have just received lump-sum payments — and they want a piece of the action. Keep your eyes peeled for aggressive marketing, aimed at separating you from the money you need to cover your costs for the term. Before you put money down on a new purchase, ask yourself if you need it, if you really even want it, and most importantly: can you afford it?
Organising yourself, your studies, and your budget can be a tricky business, but the more you put into it the easier it becomes. So settle in, get started, and just keep at it — you’ll be on top of things in no time.
If you’re looking to find out more about the benefits of budgeting, and details on how to get started, Blackbullion has plenty of information that you’ll find helpful — check out our budgeting pathway and our Student Money Guide for more.