Good student finance is difficult. It’s not like riding a bike. And if it was it would be the worst bike in the world, with pins sticking out of the seat and no pedals.
A typical student will be living away from home for the first time. There’ll probably be no financial safety net as you booze your way around town racking up debt.
There’s a simple answer to this problem - start as you mean to go on. Embrace student life, but make sure your head is screwed on before you take the plunge.
Our guide teaches you 5 habit-forming tips that will work wonders for your meagre budget, freeing you up to focus on study, and of course having fun…
1. Be realistic
The earlier you face up to the reality of being a student, the better it’ll be. Money will be tighter than an anaconda wrapping itself round a guy in spandex.
It ain’t glamorous but it’s true. You’re going to have to watch those pennies, and make every spend count. Books, transport, rent, bills… you’ve got to keep on top of them.
Before entering the arena of student finance, be wary of everything, from extravagant purchases you don’t need, to those extra pints that’ll make you overdrawn.
The sooner you do this, the more time you have to get used to it. In the long run it takes some of the edge off financial hardship because you know what to expect.
2. Self discipline
Unless you have an accountant on standby, or are blessed with numerical skills, self-discipline is going to be key to your budgetary journey.
It stands to reason. You have to knuckle down to write an essay ahead of the deadline, so why not pull up your bootstraps (ask your Dad) over budgeting too?
Set yourself weekly and monthly targets you know you can stick to. Stuff like having a figure in mind for the weekly shop, and trying your best not to exceed it.
This isn’t rocket science, though for newbies it can be challenging. An amount of trial and error may be required, but stick with it. You learn from your mistakes after all!
3. Use the right tools
In the old days (well, a decade or so back) students were cast adrift and had to rely on a calculator to keep track of their finances. They were swimming in paper also!
Great news! You don’t have to worry about that because you live in the digital age, where your smartphone can help you with your fickle finances.
A range of apps are on offer to help you master your financial affairs. They aren’t miracle workers, but they take the load off your shoulders and provide a clear overview.
With the right app-roach, you’ll find your life becomes more app-ealing. (Sorry, those jokes are app-alling, but they make us app-y.)
4. Look for discounts
Prices keep going up for essential items but one thing is pretty much guaranteed, like the seasons and Gordon Ramsay’s TV contract… the student discount!
It couldn’t be easier. Hook yourself up with a card from the NUS (National Union of Students) and dive into a sea of savings.
You’re going to be spending a lot on travel, especially if your campus is in a different part of the country. The 16-25 Railcard is a must, and you can get £10 off it here.
Also retailers and businesses know you’re strapped for cash, and are always looking for ways to attract your custom. Student offers are everywhere online.
5. Earn as you shop
Cashback is a wonderful way of making free money when you shop. Yes that’s right, we said free! By signing up to sites like TopCashback and Quidco you can cash in.
Here’s the deal. Companies hire cashback providers to direct traffic to their site. You then click on their links when you check out.
You’ll receive a fraction of the total cost, anything from a few per cent upwards. But it doesn’t stop there. You can net some big discounts from major chains.
For example, this Currys/PC World deal gives you 15% cashback if you shop through TopCashback or Quidco. All you have to do is click and wait!
Sylvia Nankivell is our guest writer from studentmoneysaver.co.uk. A leading student website offering deals and discounts to students across the country as well as competitions, spending tips and life hacks to help you through the money tight moments.
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