The Basics to Budgeting

Budgeting at university can be hard. You go from the cushion of home comforts; to being thrown into the deep end of university independence. However, it doesn’t need to be difficult and some basic budgeting steps can ensure sustainable living.

The first few weeks at university are tough, and especially hard on your bank balance. Now, I should disclose that, initially, my spending was by no means the epitome of financial intelligence. In the first month I spent an extraordinary amount; let’s just say it was over £500 but luckily under £1,000. Seeing this incited shock and a mini breakdown; followed by the introduction of a financial plan. Without running the risk of sounding too technical it can be relatively easy to manage your money. If you have multiple accounts, such as a student and a regular current account, transfer yourself a budget each week of £60-£70 – whatever suits you – and try to stay within this. As a preliminary example, this would allow £20-25 for food, £15 for alcohol and leaves you with £20 for a meal at Wagamama’s or a night out. Ultimately, if you stick to this plan, not only can you monitor your spending habits, but there may also be some leftover money. This can then go towards funding the best, yet undoubtedly most expensive, time of the year: Christmas.

Here I will provide a rough guide to saving. Firstly, alcohol- pre-drinking is key as spending £20 on pints in Fruity Friday is easily done. Also, you can’t afford to be fussy. So, put down that bottle of Smirnoff and pick up the Glens.  Now, moving onto food. When you can, make your own lunch rather than getting a £3 meal-deal every day. Also, organise flat meals where you all chip in a fiver to cook dinner. Finally, stock up on tins and reduce the amount of meat you buy. Vegetarianism becomes widespread at uni and this seems logical as the price of meat and fish is so high. Most importantly, you should shop at Aldi or Morrisons rather than the Tesco express that conveniently sits across the road. While they are further away, it is cheaper to split an Uber to Aldi for £1 each, rather than buying from the more expensive corner shops. However, on a Sunday evening, Tesco does sell reduced items, there are not many places you can buy carrots for 9p. Generally, I would advise not to shop while stressed; otherwise you may end up splurging £500 on clothes. (This can also apply to stress eating- you do not need to buy those two tubs of Ben and Jerry’s.) Perhaps, taking up meditation or yoga would be better for your bank balance. Students are a strong part of the society and culture of Leeds and so there are often various offers available. Keep an eye out for these deals on social media and most importantly take advantage of freebies.

To budget you have to consider necessity over want. Get the coach instead of the train, using Megabus once or twice won’t kill you and delete Uber to take up walking. You may not be able to see this money going, yet it is slowly whittling away. To close, there is no exact formula to budgeting. Just monitor your spending and don’t get too carried away with the contactless card.


Yelena Zylko

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