Friday, 19 August 2016

Starting University Series: Budgeting & Making Money



Congratulations to those of you who got into University yesterday! As I mentioned last week I am doing a mini-series about Starting University, and last week I wrote about Packing and Moving In, which you should definitely read if you haven't already. 

Budgeting

Budgeting is such a hard thing to get your head around when you have been living under the wing of Mum and Dad for the past 18 years and haven't really had to think about the concept of rent and bills and paying for your own food shop. I for one spent about £50 a week on my weekly shop because I just bought stuff I knew my mum and Dad would buy on their weekly shop, and this was the worst thing to do. Firstly, I was buying enough food to feed my entire family, which for the record is 4/5 people, so I was wasting a lot of food at the end of the week. Secondly, I was wasting money on junk food which is actually so expensive and really adds up. In my second year I budgeted and spent, on average, £25 per week on my shopping, and that was including any alcohol which I wanted for nights out.

It sounds very extreme, but I recommend making an Excel sheet, or even just writing down, what your income and outcome will be. For example, I made a spreadsheet this year and wrote the amount of student loan I was getting a term, and then divided it by the amount of weeks in that term. This showed me how much I had to spend every week. For me, this was barely anything, as my student loan was ridiculously low and just about covered my rent. But once finding out how much I would roughly be spending a week, I was able to work out how much of my wages I could save from my weekend job, and how much I needed for my shopping and general living. 


Making Money

I had plenty of friends who didn't want to get a job in their first year of university, and I also had friends who did have jobs in their first year. Those who did have jobs regretted it, because they missed out on a lot of nights out and just a lot of socialising in general. I didn't have a job in first year, however I did work at my old job back home in the holidays just for a bit of extra money on the side. As I had pretty supportive parents I didn't feel as though it was essential, however going into my second year I did get a weekend job, which I do still have, and I am so glad I do. It's given me a lot less time to do work and socialise which obviously is a downside, but I earn enough to pay for my own shopping and don't rely so heavily on my parents which is a great feeling. Your University will probably offer jobs on campus which is great because they are much more flexible than regular workplaces, but in my opinion, unless you really won't be able to afford the lifestyle, don't get a job in first year. Also, if you're one of those people who can only concentrate on one thing at a time, maybe a job isn't for you. It's so tempting to accept all the overtime once you see the money rolling into your bank account, but you need to remember why you're at Uni!

Making money at University doesn't simply mean a job however, as there are many other ways you can make a little spare money. Firstly, you can sell unwanted clothes. This is something I try to do as I like to have a clear and fresh wardrobe and I sell my clothes on Depop. It's a great way to earn a little money and also give your clothes onto a more loving home. Secondly, many research departments at Universities will offer paid experiments or studies, which I highly recommend. I frequently take part in my Universities studies, and earn up to £20 a time! For no longer than 2 hours of your time it's a great way to earn some dollar to spend on new clothes or on a night out. Lastly, there are survey websites such as Valued Opinions, which I also use, which offer vouchers in exchange for doing surveys for companies. It takes a while to build up enough to claim a voucher, but it's worth it as you'll have lots of spare time at University.

Bank Accounts

This is something I just want to touch on briefly, and it's making sure you 1) have a student account and 2) are with a decent bank. Many banks will offer great deals to students who open a student account with them (or switch their account over). I am with HSBC and I remember I got a £50 Amazon voucher when I switched over my account, and I know that Santander used to offer a free 3 year Railcard! In hindsight I wish I'd got my account with Santander, but HSBC also has its perks. Make sure you research into these amazing free gifts and perks before you choose a bank. Also, do not turn down an overdraft. As a student they are free to have, and on that one occasion where you've left paying your rent to the last second and you're £5 short it's really helpful to know you can just use your overdraft for the time being. Yes - it is very tempting to just jump onto Missguided and do a massive £200 shop (something I did fall for once or twice I have to admit...), but again something you will learn to control.

Finally guys, don't worry too much about the money side of things! It seems stressful at first, and almost like you won't cope, but once you get used to the amount of money you have each month you'll fall into routines and patterns and everything will be much easier. Just make sure you enjoy yourselves and take every opportunity that is thrown at you.


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