How to survive on a student's budget


For most of us, university is stressful enough without the additional concerns that accompany a typical student budget. Some undergraduates come prepared for the financial realities of studentdom, but for the others thrust into a new economic model, here are a few tips to extend those precious student loans and overdrafts that don't involve rummaging down the back of the sofa for loose change.

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Sort out your funds

Work out a monthly budget. Sit down and figure what you need for accommodation, eating, travel and, of course, recreation. Some expenses, such as accommodation, are fixed, while others will vary from month to month. Try to determine what you can reasonably afford without being too optimistic. And don't be afraid of the bank manager - keep an eye on your statements so you know exactly what is going in and coming out.

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Putting a roof over your head

If you're living in halls of residence, most of your expenses are included with the housing costs (such as electricity and water bills, internet) and you'll also save on daily travel costs if you're at a campus uni. If you're living in a private residence, it's important to take into account those additional costs. Find a flatshare to save money. You might not always get along with your room mates, but consider it all part of your university adventure!

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Hitting the books

Most texts and much of the equipment you'll need are available second-hand. Check each item before you purchase it to be sure it isn't damaged -- but don't judge the book by its cover. Newer titles are frequently available in the university library, so hurry there before they're checked out. You can also save money by forming a study group or sharing texts with classmates. Look online to see if an e-book is available at a lower price.

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Let them eat cake

If you don't already know how, this is a perfect time to learn a few basic recipes. For the price of a supermarket-bought sandwich, you can prepare a meal that will last a few days. If it's tasty enough, you'll enjoy it more than the stuff that fills your belly but eats your budget. Flatmates? Share the cooking and the costs! Always buy supermarkets' own brands to save more - also clip coupons and take out a club card.

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ET can't phone home

Yes, you'll use your mobile a lot to organise your social life. And, yes, you'll find yourself unpleasantly surprised when the monthly bill arrives. Budget your phone costs by enrolling in a pay-as-you-go plan, and learn to say, "I'm low on credit, please call me."

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Out on the tiles

Whether you prefer a pub or a club, obviously you'll need to take a break from essays, lectures and the part-time job. Just don't blow your budget when you go out. If you're going out to eat, have a snack beforehand so you don't go out too hungry. If drinking is on the agenda, have a couple at home before you go. Invite some friends and get them to bring something. Hey, it's a BYOB party!

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