In Fresher’s Week, the merry-go-round of student unions, halls of residence, making friends, late nights and Freshers’ Fair is in full swing. It’s exciting, it’s raucous and for most of you, it’s your first taste of proper independence.
But with this freedom, is some hefty responsibility. You are now in charge of your own finances, the food in your cupboard and your bank balance.
The plastic might be getting swiped left, right and centre right now, but you’ll need to learn to live within your means very quickly. Here’s a few tips on how to get through the next few years without ending up ringing up the Bank of Mum and Dad.
1. Don’t get excited when your loan/grant comes in
It may look like a sizeable amount in your bank account, but this has got to get you through the next few months. While it may be tempting to go on a celebratory bender or a massive extravagant food shop at Waitrose, it’s all about pacing yourself. Work out a weekly budget and stick to it.
2. Reward yourself
There are ways to reward yourself while living frugally, though. If you’re saving up for festival tickets, or a trip to Europe, you can put aside a little money every week. By not buying Starbucks, or not going to the Student Union every night, you’ll feel better because your good behaviour is being rewarded. While you miss out on a night out, it’s all good, because you’ll be going on holiday while will be a hundred times more fun than drinking cheap cider from a plastic pint pot at the same place you go every week!
3. Separate budgets
That money in your bank account will be spent on different things, so work out how much you’re going to put aside for food/entertainment/bills/savings each week. There are some brilliant apps which are available to download for free, like DailyBudget, which can help you divide your money up to give more order to your finances.
4. Come to terms with your balance
Checking your balance can terrify people who haven’t got control over their finances. While nights out and shopping sprees are fun, the fear of checking your balance the next day and trying to budget around it, is not. Make it a habit to check your balance everyday, that way you get to see the impact of buying those trainers on a whim, or stopping off at that deli for a nice lunch.
5. Get a job during the holidays
Make sure you get a job at half term and holidays, the wages will come in very handy. Check in at pubs and cafes, anywhere that can takes on casual staff. And don’t think that because you’re earning, you can be frivolous. This is the real world now – all that money has to be put aside for when you will really need it!