As a student, it’s likely that at some point you’re going to be completely, utterly broke if you don’t plan your money accordingly. Unfortunately, students are notoriously bad at managing their money effectively, often only starting to budget when they’re down to approximately twenty-seven pence a day to live on (luckily, Asda sell smart-price noodles for 6p).
Before you find yourself contemplating taking food out of the bin or worse, stealing from a housemate, it’s a good idea to to plan your money early. Work out what money you have coming in (maintenance loan, grant, bursaries, part-time job, parents), take out your rent and one off costs such as course books and a laptop and divide the amount you have left by the number of weeks until your next loan payment. What you’re left with is your weekly budget.
Food is obviously a big expense, but it can be done cheaply. Go to markets for fruit and veg, Poundland for snacks and soft drinks and a budget supermarket such as Lidl or Aldi for everything else. For alcohol, you’ll quickly learn that buying the cheapest bottle of something doesn’t make that much of a difference to your night. Say goodbye to Smirnoff and Red Bull and hello to Tesco’s own vodka and N-Gine Blue for 25p a can. Drink at home before you go out to avoid spending lots in expensive pubs and clubs.
To save on travel, think about getting a second hand bike. It’s often quicker and cheaper than public transport, and will help you keep fit in the process. Obviously this requires a level of motivation so it’s not for everyone. If the bus or train is cheap and you can squeeze it into your budget then it’s easy to insist that you’ll cycle tomorrow, or maybe the day afterwards. Different cities have very different travel costs; although it’s usually cheaper in a big city, you’re far more likely to sit in traffic as all the pedestrians and cyclists go past you.
Takeaways can be done on the cheap too, independent pizza shops normally have a really good family deal, and if you fancy a curry think about cooking your own rice. Do lots of it and cut down on the amount of dishes you need to order. Of course, the tried and tested best way to have a takeaway is to order it between a group of you and split the cost.