This article was written and provided by UniBank.
While there are many fun aspects to university life, managing your student budget isn’t usually one of them. You’re income depends on paid work options that fit within your schedule and whether or not you have any help from family or government assistance. Your expenses, on the other hand, can seem endless.
If you’re feeling the pinch financially while studying, you’re not alone. 30% of Nationals 2019 Div 2 participants who responded to our survey questions about their top money concerns told us they often find themselves short of cash by the end of the month. Likewise, during Div 1, 34% of participants said that they aren’t saving enough.
While living on a student budget might not be a walk in the park, there are some steps you can take to make it a little easier so you can focus on your studies and other commitments, instead of worrying about your bank balance.
Set a budget you can stick to
How many times have you heard, ‘You need to stick to a budget,’ and said to yourself, ‘Thanks but no thanks, I’ve heard that before.’ Setting a budget might seem like a flippant answer to making ends meet, but it’s the first step towards taking control of your spending.
Budgets are often associated with cutting out the fun stuff in life. They are seen in a negative light because of all the things you can’t spend your money on, instead of all the things you want to spend your money on.
Yes, you need to have discipline which can mean making difficult decisions between wants and needs. You’ll need to make trade-offs, but if you know you enjoy a coffee from your local cafe every morning before class, don’t cut it out completely. Instead, of a blanket ‘no coffee’ rule, scale back to only once or twice per week. Or, bring your own cup and get a discount. Keep in mind you might have to give up something else less important than the coffee to keep the balance.
To get started with your budget, work out your regular expenses, how much you’d like to save and how much you’ll need for day-to-day (discretionary) spending. You’ll also need to set some goals so you have something to focus on during times when you may be struggling to stay on track.
Remember, a budget isn’t a set-and-forget plan. You should review it regularly and make adjustments when you need to.
Now you’ve got your budget sorted, how can you make the most of it? Here are three things you can do to cut your costs and make your budget work for you.
Save time and money with meal prepping
Between lectures, studying, working, playing sport and spending time with family and friends, there isn’t much time left for cooking meals. Eating out can be expensive, as can grocery shopping and having the food go to waste because you don’t have time to cook.