BookMuffin’s Beginners Guide on Becoming a Good Student has been specifically designed for those of you who are venturing to university/college, or those of you who are already students and want to become a bit more organised.
This week’s topic is: Managing Your Money Before You Start Spending It
I have seen a lot of posts on how to manage money once you start university, but not necessarily a lot on how to manage it before you go. Making sure you have plenty of money to get the supplies you need beforehand is imperative, because you WILL NOT get your student loan until you are fully enrolled in your university!
There are a lot of expenses involved in uni, besides tuition fees, accommodation and course costs, you will also have to get things for your room (e.g bedding, storage, etc.), kitchen supplies, bathroom essentials and, the best bit of all, stationary. I love a good stationary shop, but the prices rack up eventually. Here are some things to think about when shopping for the essentials:
- Shop on offers- a lot of places have Back to School ranges that will be discounted or on a 2-4-1 offer that you should take advantage of
- Don’t buy too expensive- you can maybe treat yourself to a nice notebook, but don’t go too mad! make sure the paper quality is good enough, but you don’t have to get a really pretty Pukka Pad for everything. Besides, you can always DIY a front cover to make it look nicer!
- Keep it cheap… but not too cheap- Don’t buy Value/Basic everything, because it will just break/be useless within the first week of using it, but don’t buy high end products either. Go simple, but effective, and make sure it works!
- Check out your local supermarket- for things like saucepans, cutlery and all of your bathroom supplies, your local supermarket can be amazing! Also, UK readers can pop into Wilko for super cheap, well, everything, and the US have Target for things that you don’t necessarily have to splurge out on.
- As I mentioned with keeping it cheap, but not too cheap, make sure your pans are non-stick, so they don’t ruin the first time you use them!!
Only buy what you need! It may be tempting to see something and think it will make your room look nice, or spend money on things you might need, but probably won’t use. DON’T DO THIS! As I mentioned, everything adds up, so keep to the bare essentials at first, then, if you have some money left over, you can treat yourself. Have a look at the following tips and tricks:
- Chat with your roommates- If you know who you are living with and have them on Facebook/have a phone number, you can easily get in contact with them around the clock (if you haven’t done this, I recommend getting to know the people you are living with- it will help a lot when moving it!) See what they are bringing along with them, because if everyone is planning on bringing a toaster, you might not have too!
- Don’t worry if you forget something- If you get there and realise you have forgotten something, you will probably still have a bit of money left over or your student loan will have come in. Don’t panic and just go and find what you need (this is also a good way to explore the surrounding area a bit more too!)
Another thing to think of is, it’s not just you! There are plenty of people around you who I am sure are more than willing to help you out. As my mum has always said to me, ‘I will never sit and watch you starve’ If you do need something urgently and don’t have the money for it, simply ask! This is a big step in your life and your parents will want to help you out as much as possible before you leave. Just remember to ask nicely!
My final tip is quite a big decision to make, and will depend entirely on personal preference, but I found this step incredibly beneficial…
Take a gap year!
I know, those dreaded words ‘gap year’ may make your head spin, and I know there are a lot of things to think about when it comes to making the decision. Have a look and see how I have found my gap year beneficial to me in terms of managing my money (sticking with the topic of the post!) :
- Get a full-time job- If you do decide a gap year may be beneficial for you to find your feet, get a full-time job and earn some money!! A lot of people decided to go travelling and spend some time at home, but I cannot stress enough how much a job has helped me save for university. I’ve putting away half of my pay check each month and managed to save more than what I will be receiving in student loan!
- Be strict with your spending- After putting money away in savings, you will have to be strict with what you spend still. I know that may be tough, and sometimes you will need to spend some money on food, clothes, presents, etc. but try and keep personal spending to a minimum. This way, you will have plenty when it comes to buying all of your uni things.
- Start buying early-taking a gap year and earning money will allow you to spread the cost of everything. You can buy your saucepans and toasters in January sales for half the price and store them away until you need them. If you don’t take a gap year, you will be working overtime during the summer for extra money and trying to buy everything the weekend before you go.
I do understand that taking a year out is a big decision, and it should not be taken lightly. I also understand that it is a whole year, but you can also think of it as ‘it’s only a year!’ My year out has flown by, and I feel a lot more ready financially than I every was last year (I had £300 to my name last year, now I have 20x that amount saved up and ready to go). Financially speaking, a gap year is the most beneficial thing I have ever done!
Before I go, I want to share one more thing. Below there is a link to my Google Drive, where you will find a checklist template. You can print it off or fill it in on the computer with everything you think you will need in each section. have a look online to see the places you can get it from for the best value and for how much. You can then use the final column to jot down how much you actually spent. You may find you never bought it because it wasn’t absolutely imperative that you bought it there and then! I hope this will be useful for you all.
Another link will take you to my Packing board on Trello (a really handy place to store to-do lists and just about everything else!) You can see what is on my list and decide for yourself whether you think it would be handy to have, or whether you can live without it!
Trello Packing board
Happy Thursday and Happy Blogging!