Having money left over at the end of the month is the dream scenario that probably very few of us actually experience. You spend your money almost as soon as you receive it and the last few days before payday are long, dark and painful; you call in every favour, contacting your parents for the first time in two months for a little cash deposit. The problem is, we have to spend money we don’t have to occupy us during the abundance of free time we sometimes face. Free on Sunday night? Quick pint down the pub- you haven’t seen your friends in a couple of days. Spare £20 in your wallet? Well you are sort of near Topshop and there is a sale on so… Oh is it Tuesday? Well, it’s 2-For-Tuesday at Domino’s isn’t it? Would be rude not to.
But if your wallet’s feeling the pinch or you’re hoping to squeeze a holiday out of your student loan, then here are some tips and tricks to help you to be better with your money:
#1 Prepare to continue being a ‘student’ before you officially stop being one
Just before you leave uni forever, sign up for a three year NUS card and make sure you have renewed any travel cards. Check back on as many student money saving sites for their terms and conditions to suss out the loopholes so that you can still abuse your student discount because when you graduate uni, you’re gonna fucking need it.
#2 Abuse ‘Happy Hour’
Okay maybe this one isn’t exactly ‘budgeting’ but it saves you a lot of money in the long run because let’s be honest, ‘Dry March (April, May etc)’ isn’t really a thing. If you need a drink, keep an eye out for deals in local bars and pubs. With 2-4-1 cocktails and 3 beers for £10 it’s literally a bargain. Just make sure it’s your round within the happy hour(s); you don’t want to get stung because you’ve ordered a whole round two minutes after happy hour finished.
#3 Use an app to help manage your money
Sometimes, sorting out your finances is just too much effort. It’s much more appealing to just spend away, ignore your bank balance and hope for the best. But this has never been a good idea. Ever. If this sounds like you, then consider downloading an app that will do all of the work for you. Apps such as Loot can help to budget your money and also set a little bit aside for a rainy day (if you want a bit more info, click here). What’s good about using an app is that it takes away the stress of managing your money for you and at the end of the month, you might find that you actually have a bit left over. Imagine.
#4 Go 007 on supermarkets
The majority of my transaction list is food related (which is why the gym is also now on my transaction list) so for me, this is a big area in need of budgeting. Skipping, or rummaging through supermarket’s bins for unsold, still-packaged food has become a well known money saving tactic from self-proclaimed ‘freegans.’ But let’s be honest, it’s a bit gross. If you need a discount broccoli or a trifle, visit the supermarket in the evening for reduced deals (apparently M&S is a winner). I’ve also heard on good authority that ‘wombling’ is actually a thing- but I’ll let you look that up on Google yourself because some supermarkets frown on it.
#5 Be Loyal
If you’re going to shop somewhere like Tesco or Boots, it makes sense to get their loyalty card so you can start earning points for free vouchers and shit. Cashback sites are another way of receiving benefits from purchases as each time you spend money, you get a percentage of it back. WTF?! Be wary though, sometimes there are minor catches such as downloading company apps or shopping on a specific day. But it’s worth looking into.
#6 Travel Wisely
On a local and very basic level, if you’re commuting to work or uni and back then maybe try walking or investing in a bike. It’s free and it means you may not need to join the gym to burn off that Domino’s pizza you keep eating. If you’re lucky enough to be travelling abroad though, don’t be tempted to convert your money into pounds each time you pay; sometimes it’s actually cheaper sticking with the local currency. And both out of politeness and in the interest of your wallet, learn some basic phrases and numbers in the city’s language so you don’t get overcharged without realising it.
#7 The 50/30/20 rule
This is a gem. Senator Elizabeth Warren popularised what is called the ‘50/30/20 Rule’ in her book All You’re Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan, and it actually works. The idea is that when you get paid your salary, student loan or weekly wage you divide it into three. So, 50% of the money is used for necessities (rent, bills, Tesco meal deals), 30% is for you to spend willy nilly on your lifestyle (beer, lipstick, a holiday) and 20% gets saved/ used to pay off any debts (or put aside as one of your #LootGoals…).
So there we have it. If you have any other helpful tips and tricks, leave a comment and let us know!