Essential finance every university student should know about

I want to start out saying that this was going to be a YouTube video but, I realized there was too much to cover. So, to begin this post I’ve based it on my perceptive alone and I’ve written this post to provide measures and means to handle your finances in a manner that could be deemed useful. And, I find this to be a perfect opportunity to post this because with closures of university – students now have the chance to review their financial habits.

I was originally adopted by the city of Birmingham when I moved to the UK. At the age of 19, I made my journey out to Huddersfield to study my undergraduate degree. Living away from home was always a goal of mine because I wanted to get away from the dependency of my parents and survive on my own means. Four years later, with a considerable amount of student loan debt I learned the most important lesson after graduating was that I managed my finances poorly. But all of that will change for you guys now.

I am going to break down this post into three elements that provide an insight into the most ESSENTIAL finances.

Part 1: Food

As a student living away from home food becomes an essential part of our survival. Whether that’s living on noodles for a week (trust me I’ve done it) or having your mom send Tupperware full of Indian food.

I took no financial precautions over buying groceries or having a take out every week or getting lunch with my friends most days. In my initial years, I did this because I didn’t know how to cook food on a budget and secondly, I disliked cooking because it was time-consuming. In my third and final year, I brought about a change where I batched my meals on a weekly basis.

Nevertheless, here’s what I propose to consider the idea of Conscious spending plan. I came across this principle reading a book called ‘I will teach you to be Rich‘ written by Ramit Sethi. I highly recommend this book.

The most usable solution, I can advise would be to budget for your food. Now, not everyone likes to budget and that’s why I propose the idea of a conscious spending plan.

This table provides an overview of how much money you have spent in a month. It becomes your responsibility what measures you can take to reduce the cost if you feel you’re overspending. Now, if you feel you’re overspending within a month – you could take measures to reduce that cost by considering to do the following:

  1. purchasing groceries from local stores
  2. using local butchers
  3. getting fresh produce from local Sunday markets

Repeat the same conscious spending plan for the following month, an advantage of this is to give you an overall picture where you can limit your unnecessary spending habits. Now, if you feel you’re quite stable with your spending – you can take an additional step. You can limit the number of takeaways and social gatherings. Ultimately, it’s all about making a choice. Furthermore, I would highly recommend attending free events that provide food, the advantage of this you can meet new people and try food from different cultures.

Part 2: Essential expenditure

Now, I am basing this on my own experience to what I found to be an essential requirement. I categorized this to be the following essentials:

  1. Toiletries – Now, this can differ based on if you’re a male or female. I acquired most of the items from Boots and Wilko. I would recommend while at university acquire much of these items from home instead of buying it because your folks would always have extras.
  2. Cleaning products for the bathroom and kitchen – I acquired all my cleaning from Poundland or Wilkos and usage of cleaning products does intend to last a couple of months. Again, pinch it of your parents, if you are in a position to do so.
  3. Transport – whether you’re taking public transport or traveling by your own vehicle (car, bike or bicycle) take measures for unexpected expenses.
  4. Invest in a bike if you’re using public transport. This one-time investment can last you a while.
  5. If you’re using your own personal transport consider the following expenditures: MOT, vehicle insurance and fuel

How to tackle such expenditures?

  1. Take measures to save and put away certain percent of your money into a savings account that is solely used to accommodate for transport or vehicle expenditure. You can use the money acquired from the following:
    1. Student loans
    2. Working a part-time job
    3. Gift (money)- from parents or grandparents
  2. Contribute a % of the money in a savings account every month. Furthermore, if you’re traveling to university using your own transport consider sharing your travels with friends who are in agreement to contribute towards your fuel costs.

Part 3: Entertainment

I categorize the essential components of entertainment to the following list. Now, I’ve based this on my own experience.

  1. Cinema
  2. Recreational activities like sports
  3. Holiday trips
  4. Dates
  5. Subscription – Netflix
  6. Social drinking

How to manage your finances when considering ‘Entertainment’?

Now, I will agree to the fact that going into University I had no plans on how to budget my finances when considering ‘entertainment’. I can definitely admit to the fact if I worked to a budget it would have assisted me from not overspending or going into my overdraft.

As a means of budgeting, I can again advise the same principle of using a conscious spending plan.

Opening a savings account and call it ‘Entertainment’ – again contribute a certain percent of financial value to this account every month from your part-time job or gifts (money) provided by the family. Entertainment subscription like Netflix and Spotify – consider splitting the cost if you’re living with flatmates, or alternatively pinch it of your parents or siblings.

Additional gifts

Speaking of gifts often as a student you’re put in a situation where you end up buying gifts for family and friends on birthdays, Christmas or anniversary. I suggest the following action checklist.

STEP 1: Open a Starling account

STEP 2: Use the ‘Space goal’ service which acts like a money-pot and allocates each member of your family a pot for birthdays, Christmas and anniversaries.

STEP 3: Contribute certain % of cash every month to every pot.

STEP 4: You can cash in the required pot when needed. The advantage of this you wouldn’t need to overspend on that particular month and wouldn’t feel financial pressured at the end of it.

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I am a writer and a graduate engineer working in Leicester, UK.

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