Students are famous for being poor; it comes with the territory of studying away from home. However not many of us are prepared for the harsh reality of being independent. You do not realise how much your parents paid for and did for you until it is all taken away. Now that is not to say all students are independent, many still have their parents paying their rent, doing their food shopping, and take their washing home. Those that do however, often struggle with budgeting and making sure they make it to the next loan payment.
When I came to university, I had £400 in the bank, which I had saved over the summer, and my loan to help me out. Although once my rent came out, I was left with £90 of the loan. So until Christmas I had £490 to make it through. There was Freshers however! Of course I went over my budget and I had to go home at reading week to earn more money. I was not one of the lucky ones who had mum and dad to bail me out. You do get a free overdraft as a student, though many students consider this as free money and use it to pay for expenses such as a new guitar or a Playstation.
There are ways to manage however. If you set yourself a weekly budget and be strict with yourself. Don’t have an ‘I deserve to have nice things’ attitude because it will only mean you have a lot of nice things but not enough money for food with three weeks left to go. Also budget in cash, because then you know exactly how much you have spent because doing calculations of how much you have left while your drunk in a bar never works out. Trust me.
Another thing is to let go of the luxury of branded food. Don’t be a snob – it tastes exactly the same and it is about a third cheaper. This especially goes for bread and tinned foods. If you are still buying branded beans, you need to start re-evaluating your priorities. Also don’t even think about buying branded alcohol; that is a ridiculous expense. Start drinking wine and learn to love it. It is a lot cheaper than spirits for pre-drinks, and if you can drink cheap wine at two for £5 you will be rolling in it by the end of term comes.
These tips all come in handy but adjusting to life without the bank of mum and dad is not easy. Nobody is expected to get it right straight away, so don’t feel any shame in having to ring them up to borrow a fiver so you can do your washing in the overly priced launderette. Hopefully your first year has not had too many hiccups and you will come back next year savvy and streetwise with your saving and spending.