How do I budget at university? Budgeting was something I stressed about for AGES – months before I even arrived at university. I didn’t even know how to get started with it. So if you find yourself in a similar situation, I’m here to give you some advice and grant you peace of mind.
I arrived at university knowing I wasn’t as financially secure as some of my peers, so I really had to work out how to manage my money. I needed to learn how to budget. As soon as my student loan came in, I paid for my accommodation, which meant I didn’t have to worry about that when it came to weekly financing. I took all the leftover money in my bank account and divided it up by the number of weeks that the semester lasted. This gave me a basic outline of how much I could afford to spend per week.
However, I obviously didn’t want to be left with nothing at the end of term, so I ended up subtracting a certain amount and allowed myself to spend a maximum of £100 a week. This would be to cover groceries, eating out, going out etc. Any left-over money I’d put into a savings account. I tried to limit myself to only going into town once a week, so I wouldn’t be spending too much on bus tickets and just generally trying out all the different cafes.
My best tip is think about how often you do your laundry – it’s over £3 per wash. Oh, and get yourself a drying rack, so you don’t have to spend extra money on tumble-drying.
I’d do a weekly food shop, having a handy list in my phone so I could focus on buying things I needed rather than walking out with a bunch of random stuff we already had at the flat. Preparation is key when shopping on a budget.
While some of my friends shopped at the Nisa in Market Square (which tends to be more expensive) or ordered groceries from Asda or Tesco, I made the executive decision of taking a 30-minute trek to Aldi (on Fulford Road) every Saturday morning. The first time I went I honestly could not get over the 29p pack of pasta! I think that’s going to stick with me for the rest of my life. So yes, I 100% recommend Aldi for your shopping – I swear I’ve never spent more than £20.
Also, Lidl. Lidl is my favourite shop ever! The bakery is amazing and I found some of the best snacks there. AND its on par with Aldi when it comes to price. Keep an eye out for the weekly magazine there too, they list a bunch of bargains for the week ahead.
I should also mention that B&M and Home Bargains (on Foss Islands Retail Park) are fairly cheap and offer a wide array of products.
I am a book lover, so I knew that that was a danger, especially with all the amazing bookshops in the City Centre. So, I allowed myself to splurge once when I went out with the literature society on a bookshop crawl (I spent about £35). But I thankfully there are so many charity shops around York. Now, charity shops aren’t just useful for books. No! You can find some really good quality clothes, shoes, décor etc. All for prices that are wayyyy under retail value.
Splurge vs save
Things you can save on are things you can buy in bulk or things you need to eat on a day-to-day basis e.g. rice, pasta and bread. Canned goods never go off so try to buy those rather than fresh veg. I used to freeze stuff like bread, ham and cheese so it wouldn’t go off too quickly. Notebooks, pens and other things you use daily at uni I’d also recommend buying cheap. I went through almost two A4 notebooks in the first term. Washing up supplies can also be store brand – they get used up very quickly!
Splurge on snacks instead! Ice cream, crisps, chocolate – whatever takes your fancy. Whenever you’re down and stressed a good quality snack is something that can pick up your mood 😊 Also, allow yourself financial freedom when you go out with friends (especially if you don’t usually go out with them). If you ever take yourself out on a date SPLURGE – you’re allowed to spoil yourself once in a while!