A Guide to Budgeting and Making Your Time at University Smooth Sailing
Starting university can be a stressful time, with money being at the root of most students’ worries, but this article aims to offer guidance to freshers beginning their journey in Leeds. Being at university, for most students, can be as much about the social life as it can getting the degree, but this can rack up costs quicker than some may expect, which is why budgeting is a super helpful way of controlling your spending! Start with necessities; food, travel, learning supplies (textbooks are necessary for some courses which can quickly rack up costs).
Food: If you’re living close to the centre of Leeds, the takeaways and fast food chains can be tempting, take it from me, but it’s best to resist where possible and focus on buying ingredients that will allow you to explore your cooking abilities. Buying meat in bulk is often cheaper, and freezers are great as it means that you can make it last a longer period of time, and don’t be afraid to buy frozen veg, as it is more cost effective and you don’t have to worry about it going off. Stocking up on rice, pasta and spices is also a great way to reduce costs as they have longer dates and mean you can have a variation of flavours rather than sticking to the same boring meals. Also, try to aim to do a weekly or monthly shop, rather than buying things as you go, as it allows you to stick to your targeted cost for food. Convenience stores, such as as Sainsburys Local and Tesco Express, are great if you’re in a hurry or need something at a less sociable hour, but they also tend to have higher prices and less offers than the larger supermarkets, so only use these if absolutely necessary.
Travel: The best way to save money on travel is by walking, and would also mean you’re doing your bit for the environment! Most accommodations are no further than a 20 minute walk from university, however, when its cold or rainy (as it so often is in England), there are multiple frequent buses in Leeds from the city to the university, along with buses to and from Headingley and Hyde Park. These include the 56, 19 and 19A, the 56 also goes right outside the University of Leeds. Buses are way more cost effective than Uber’s or taxi’s, as a single trip on the bus only costs £1.20 with your student card, and weekly or monthly passes may also save you more money if you’ll be using them frequently.
Learning Supplies: If you’re lucky enough to already have a laptop before attending university, this can be helpful, but is not necessary, so don’t stress yourself out trying to save up to spend lots of money on one. The University has numerous libraries that are supplied with computers that you can use to write up notes you have handwritten in the lecture or write essays. If you’d prefer to take notes via laptop, it doesn’t have to be super expensive or brand new, look for second hand ones or cheaper brands to save yourself a big chunk of money! Some modules require textbooks, but look at buying these secondhand too, or alternatively you can check the LU library website to see if it is available to rent or available online.
Social: Once you have budgeted for the necessities, money that is left over can be used leisurely, but not irresponsibly! Meals and nights out can be as big a part of the university experience as the learning, and it is always nice to treat yourself, within reason. Look at what restaurants provide discount on UniDays and other apps that offer student discount, and base your choices on that. In terms of nights out, the best advice I can give is to book tickets in advance – the earlier you buy them, the cheaper they are, and often much cheaper than paying at the door. Most clubs host student nights during the week, so plan which to go to on the right night to get the best discounts.
Last but not least, just enjoy it! The experience can be made much more pleasant without having money worries or wondering if you’re going to have enough money by the end of the month, which is why budgeting is so helpful.