Pro Tips For Budgeting In College

Four in 10 freshman students find managing money trickier than expected and a worrying 15% said they were struggling financially. So, get set for student money management with this top 10, which covers what to remember to factor into your budget.

1. Course materials

Starting university comes with a fair few upfront costs, including course materials. 45% of first years have spent more than expected on extras such as books and art materials. Here are some of the ways you can save.

Many universities run second-hand book sales, giving you the opportunity to buy books from older students (and to sell them once youโ€™ve finished with them!). Which texts do you actually need to buy? Head to the library to see which ones you can borrow.

Discounts โ€“ you may be able to get cheaper deals on course materials by buying directly from your university department, and donโ€™t forget to make the most of your NUS Extra discount card.

2. Transport

Whether itโ€™s a bus to lectures or traveling back home for the holidays, youโ€™ll need to factor in travel costs. To help, there are student travel cards out there to help you reduce the costs of getting around by as much as a third. For added savings, plan ahead and book in advance if possible.

3. Food

Itโ€™s a myth that students live off baked beans โ€“ it is possible to eat normally and healthily whatever your budget. Here are a couple of pointers to get you started:

  • Prevent impulse buys in the supermarket by making a shopping list โ€“ and sticking to it.
  • Cook in bulk and freeze. This way nothing gets wasted, it works out a lot cheaper and you always have a backup plan when the cupboards are bare!
  • Make packed lunches for cheaper meals on the go.

4. Entertainment

From freshersโ€™ week to club subs, student nights, gigs, fancy dress, sport or a quick catch-up with friends at the union โ€“ the cost of socializing can soon mount up. Try and allocate yourself so much a week during the semester for โ€˜entertainmentโ€™. Being sociable doesnโ€™t have to be expensive โ€“ think nights in with roommates, free events at your union or two-for-one movie nights.

5. Utilities

If youโ€™re in halls of residence, utilities such as gas, electricity, and water are usually included as part of your rent โ€“ but that might not be the case if youโ€™re heading into off-campus housing. Along with your rent, youโ€™ll need to put aside a certain amount each month to cover utility bills. Setting up regular payments is a good way of managing the outlay.

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