Ever wondered how to stretch your budget without sacrificing fun? Can you really save money while still enjoying college life to the fullest? Well, the answer is “YES!”. Today I’ll be sharing the top 5 tips to manage your finances so that you can finally say goodbye to those end-of-month blues and hello to financial finesse!
- Track Your Expenses
The best way to understand your spending habits is by keeping a detailed record of your spending. You can use apps such as Notion or simply Google spreadsheets and categorize your expenses, such as rent, groceries, transportation, entertainment, and more. I’ve been using an app called Money Mgr for almost a year to track my expenses. Undoubtedly, tracking your expenses every day will help you identify areas where you might be overspending and give you a clear idea of where your money is going.
- Create a Realistic Budget
Once you have a grasp of your spending habits, create a budget that reflects your income and essential expenses and allocate a reasonable amount to each category. Also, it’s important to allocate your essential costs such as rent, utility bills, groceries and transportation before you spend to avoid running short on funds for necessities. One good idea is to make sure your budget is balanced and achievable, as an overly strict budget can be challenging to stick to.
- Cook at Home and use public transport
Eating out frequently can put a dent in your budget. In Manchester, if you go out one night, it usually costs around £10 – £20, which is worth 3-5 days of groceries. So instead of going out every night or ordering takeout frequently, opt for cooking at home. Plan your meals, buy groceries in bulk, and prepare simple yet nutritious dishes. This not only saves money but also helps you develop cooking skills that will be valuable throughout your life.
In addition, if you’re in an area with accessible public transportation, consider using it instead of driving because it is generally cheaper than owning and maintaining a car. You can purchase annual or monthly bus passes for discounted fares instead of purchasing single tickets every day. Since Uber or local cabs are expensive, it’s not a cost-effective option in the long run. So if you need to commute, explore carpooling options with classmates to share costs.
- Use student discounts and always look for sales
The best part of being a student is that you can take advantage of student discounts whenever you buy something. Whether it’s software, entertainment, clothing, or travel, always inquire about student rates and bring your student ID when you go shopping. Also, sign up for UNiDAYS and Student Beans for discount coupons.
In addition, some of the textbooks, clothing, electronics, and other items can be purchased secondhand or during sales. Check out online marketplaces such as Vinted, eBay and local thrift stores around Piccadilly and City Centre and always look out for sales during Black Friday, Christmas and seasonal sales.
- Build an Emergency Fund
Life can be full of surprises and sometimes, unexpected expenses can pop up out of nowhere. Imagine your phone suddenly needs repair, your laptop crashes a day before your big presentation or your bike gets a flat tire. That’s where having an emergency fund comes to the rescue. Instead of panicking about how to pay for these things, your emergency fund is there to help you cover the costs without stressing you out.
Setting an emergency fund is easier than you think. Every month, make it a non-negotiable habit to set aside a small portion of your income (around 2% to 5%) into your emergency fund so that you’re prepared for any unexpected costs that might come your way. Start small, and over time, your emergency fund will grow into a safety cushion that brings you peace of mind so that you can handle whatever surprises life throws at you with confidence!
In summary, budgeting and saving money as a student isn’t about depriving yourself; it’s about making informed choices that allow you to achieve your goals without unnecessary financial stress. By integrating these tips and hacks into your student lifestyle, you’ll cultivate responsible financial habits that will serve you well beyond your university years.