The reality of living out of home may be starting to bite now that you’ve started uni (or you’re very close to it, at least). With your hand constantly in your pocket for this, that or the other; the temptation of going out and exploring your new town or city; or with new friends you feel you have to impress you’re probably feeling the pressure to say ‘yes’, ‘yes’ and ‘yes’ some more.
But remember, you’ve saved and saved to get here, so be mindful of your money so you don’t end up somewhere you don’t want to be.
Here are some tried and true tips from experienced students just for you:
- Keep the money needed for fixed expenses such as regular bills, in a separate bank account and don’t use it for anything else.
- Try to save a small amount every week – it all adds up. $10 a week over a year will give you $520 to pay for a holiday, Christmas presents, medical or dental expenses.
- Before making purchases, think in terms of needs not wants. Is it something you can do without? Can you get it another time?
- Keep receipts for all purchases and money transactions to check against your bank statements.
- Be aware of and try to avoid things that blow out your budget, such as impulse purchases.
- Try not to have a credit card, as they create debt. Only use you debit card instead.
- If your budget shows you are on your way to serious debt, you may need to take action and move to cheaper accommodation or sell your car and use public transport.
- Seek advice. Don’t be embarrassed if your finances hit a few hurdles. Visit your student services centre and ask about talking with a financial planner.
- The trick with your student budget is to make the most of what you’ve got by keeping a lookout for savings opportunities and cutting back wherever possible.
You could and should:
- Keep an eye out for student discounts. Many businesses and services offer great discounts for students from haircuts to meals, to movie tickets to bus fares. It never hurts to ask!
- Cut back the number of times you go out per week and limit how much you spend on a night out.
- Buy food that’s in season. It’s cheaper, healthier and tastes better.
- Look at the number of times you travel home or to friends’ houses and see if there are cheaper travel alternatives. You may need to look at cutting back on your trips.
- Set a maximum limit for your spending on takeaways, gifts and clothes.
- Take your own lunch instead of buying food on campus.
- When you go out – take only a certain amount of cash, and don’t take your card. This will mean you know you only have that amount to spend before going home, without being tempted to just tap and go.
- If someone suggests going out for breakfast, offer to host. Cook pancakes and have each guest bring a topping or breakfast drink. Not only will you all have fun, but you could even start a tradition of your own!
- Make money an open topic between you and your friends. There is no shame is saying ‘No, not this week’ or ‘My finances aren’t that flush, but maybe we can go to the beach instead?’ Almost all students will feel the pinch at some stage, so keep the conversation open and judgement free.
More tips, tricks and advice on how to survive your first year at university in our
University Survival Guide