Issy, a current University of Reading student and Mentor for this course, imparts her wisdom about budgeting.
Money, money, money….must be managed! (Any ABBA fans out there?) This was one of my biggest fears when coming to university, how am I going to survive and keep myself alive without blowing all my money? How will I know how much money I have to feed myself each week? Firstly, DON’T worry! I have a few helpful and VERY much needed tips I’ve learnt over the years to hopefully help you out…
Excel spreadsheets? Yawwwnnn, I know! But for me this actually is the best, easiest and most efficient way of managing my money. Once a week, usually on a Sunday, I write down how much I’ve spent on food, clothes, activities, university supplies and other bits and bobs! It’s entirely up to you how you divide up your funds, it’s the perfect way to keep track of where all your money is going and rectify any reckless spending. Which leads me to my next point…
It’s likely that, living a life of a university student, this will not be a very hefty sum! This is why budgeting is SO important. Calculate how much money you have available a month, and then once you’ve taken off your monthly bills (any memberships, direct debits like phone bills, car insurance, etc) you can work out how much you have left. Perhaps, using the Excel sheet, you can evaluate and divide your money between things like food, washing and societies, etc. Then you’ll know how much money you’ll have “spare” to help you set a limit to your spending or saving! This budgeting is essential to ensure you don’t overestimate how much spending money you have and end up unable to afford food!
Use your student discounts
It’s worth signing up to the many student discount cards available. Here are some of the more popular ones:
- Student discount cards: A Totum card (small fee), Student Beans (free) and UniDays (free) give you student discounts at hundreds of retailers, in store and online.
- ISIC card: An International Student Identity card that is applicable in over 130 countries. This card is proof of your student status that’ll get you over 150,000 student discounts around the world.
- 16 – 25 rail card: Is for anyone 16 – 25, or over 25 in full-time education. You’ll receive 1/3 off the cost of your rail travel.
- 18+ Student Oyster: If you’re going to a London university this card offers 30% off travelcards and buses around London.
- Retail loyalty cards: Not exclusive to students but still useful to have, as many stores offer loyalty discounts and vouchers.
The biggest challenge for many students leaving home for the first time is often surrounding money management and budgeting. Make good use of your uni’s Student Financial Support team who can provide guidance and advice for any financial situation you may be in.
© University of Reading