Whether you’re a third year or a first year the first term of university is notoriously expensive. While getting that first instalment of student loan may feel like you’ve won the lottery the sad reality is it will be gone before you know it. It’s time to learn to prioritise. Saving money now will set you up financially for the rest of the year.
The first term of university is when you’ll feel homesick the most. Yes you’ll have friends but it’s a big change after the long summer months of being surrounded by family and the people you’ve known for years. Investing in a railcard will give you the freedom to visit home or your friends at other uni’s as often as you’d like – without burning a hole in your pocket.
Spread your money
There’s absolutely nothing worse than being behind on rent payments, you’ll be landed with a fine and the unnecessary stress. It’s an obvious priority but sometimes it can be hard to visualise a term’s payments when you receive that lump of student loan. Something I’ve done since first year is immediately move the whole terms rent into a separate savings account. When each month a payment is taken I can ‘repay’ myself instantly – this works best for rent payments once you’ve moved into a house. The biggest perk of this saving technique is you won’t be absent mindedly spending money you don’t have! You could apply the same theory to weekly food shops, subscriptions or gym memberships.
Make a spreadsheet
If you can keep track of your money you’ll have a better handle on saving it too. First term has a lot of ‘hidden’ costs. Think about your gym membership, textbooks, club membership fees, various subscriptions and other degree specific expenditures. They really do add up! Assess your incomings against your outgoings and prioritise, prioritise, prioritise!
Investigate bursaries and scholarships
Almost every University has additional funding available to students. Many are advertised to you in the first weeks of uni but it’s worth checking out your institution’s website as well. Especially for the more obscure scholarships. Most of the time this is free money, money that won’t contribute to your student loan – so why not apply!?
Don’t buy unnecessary things
It’s so easy to get caught up in a spending bubble when moving to University whether for the first time or the third! You’d think we’d all have learnt our lesson by now but I still have to stop myself when I see ANOTHER faux hanging plant in Ikea that I simply don’t need. Check what you have at home, what you can borrow off other people and what you can find in charity shops before going mental in the lakes of Ikea, Homesense and John Lewis. Don’t spend a fortune on a whole new wardrobe when your one at home is already bursting. And absolutely don’t splash out on new technology; laptops, speakers, watches or phones when you really don’t need them.
The silver lining to this post is that after first term it gets easier. Not only will you get into the swing of saving, most of the large outgoings will already have been covered. Saving money now will really give you peace of mind for the continuing months of study. That way you can enjoy it to its fullest potential!
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