Going to uni for most people means being financially independent for the first time. This can definitely be daunting, and from personal experience also a bit of a disaster (being £450 into my overdraft by the end of first year being a great example). It took me ages to get used to managing my own money. I found that in first year I was often prioritising going out and vodka over food, which is not ideal but all a learning curve. Now I feel like I have my budgeting skills down and thought I’d share my tips.
- Firstly it’s important to work out how much money you will have weekly to spend after bills and rent. You might not use this amount every week and some weeks you may use more, so make sure it is a reasonable amount.
- I then work out how much money I will need for my weekly food. This depends on the supermarket, what you are cooking etc. For me it is maximum £25, some weeks it can be as low as £15. I shop at Morrisons as I don’t have access to a car, but last year my housemate would drive us to Aldi which made my weekly shop a lot cheaper. I would only spend £15 every week. So if one of your friends has a car it is a great idea to do that and all you have to do is chip in a couple quid for petrol.
- My tip for keeping food shopping expenses low is definitely meal plan. You can buy meal planners from numerous places, I got mine from Wilkinson’s for £2.50. This way you don’t end up going to the supermarket and throwing anything you fancy in the trolley. I always leave a bit of money to buy spontaneous chocolate bars or coffee when I’m working also.
- Another food tip is to be smart with the products you buy. Some products I see the need to buy branded (nothing compares to branded Nutella) but a lot of supermarket own brands can be just as good and a fraction of the price. I buy my vegetables at the greengrocer’s on Queen’s road as the veg is so much cheaper and bigger/better quality. But also buying frozen fruit and vegetables is great for saving money and prevents waste.
- Now onto the important stuff, going out. In terms of alcohol for pre drinks, the cheapest options are usually wine or cider but sometimes I will splurge on a bottle of vodka and this will last me a few weeks. I don’t allow myself too much money for going out, as this will just result in me buying unnecessary VK’s in the O2, theres only so many VK’s one person needs on a night out. One thing I always make sure I have is £3 for cheesy chips on the way home, the most vital part of the night out for me.
- My last tip is to always plan ahead, for example if you are having a relatively cheap week this week, but next week will be busy, then save a bit of money to use next week. I always make sure I try plan meals out with friends around how busy/expensive a week I will.