How To Cut Your Student Budget

I’m guessing it’s a familiar story, but that doesn’t mean it’s a pleasant one; you finish your first year of university at the bottom of your overdraft, are unable to find a job over summer, and return to university for a second year stressed and poor.

Then, like a gift from heaven, your loan comes in. Upwards of £1000 to do whatever you want with! But just as soon as it’s gone into your bank account, your rent is due, and you’re back being stressed and poor.

These three tips can cut your spending drastically:

Budgeting:

It sounds obvious, but unless you track what you spend, your spending habits will go unnoticed. A budget can be anything from a list of money coming in and a list of money going out, to a complex system of formulas broken down into goals and including progress reports. Mine started as the former and has evolved into something approaching the latter. Microsoft Excel is ideal for this.

Shop locally:

It’s surprising how much you can save at local markets and/or independent shops! Offers change all the time so it’s not as easy to plan as supermarket shopping, but it’s cheaper, more locally minded, and if I may say so, more exciting. Offers I’ve seen include 6 lemons for £1 (35p each at a supermarket), 3 bottles of big brand squash for £1, or even a ‘bbq meat pack’ for £15 which included 12 burgers, 12 chicken wings, 16 sausages, 8 pork chops and 6 steaks.

Intelligent ways of spending the money you’ve saved:

Optimise your PC or Mac:

There are a huge range of student software deals available. If you’ve got a UK student email address (which most readers of this blog will!) you can get Windows 7 Ultimate Upgrade and Office 2010 Professional Plus for under £100 which is a great saving. No more relying on the old, slow and often already occupied library PCs.

Also, remember that you can save money on buying a Mac in the Mac Store. Just go online in your university and login to the Apple site and you’ll get your student discount.

Travel:

Set up a Couchsurfing account, get familiar with Skyscanner and Eurolines, and head off to the place(s) you’ve always wanted to go. Budget travel doesn’t have to be boring travel: I had an awesome time in 6 cities in 4 countries in 2 weeks last summer and only spent £450 all in.

Invest!

This probably doesn’t count as ‘spending’ the money you’ve saved, but putting it away in a bank account dedicated to saving will do you favours in the future.

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