Spending: How to manage your money and avoid stress

17 Oct 2019
By Tom S., Student at Sheffield Hallam University

Coming to uni can be a shock in many ways. It’s a whole new lifestyle to adapt to. One of the most significant things is learning to control your money. There may be a few costs that surprise you when you first arrive, and it’s important to get into good habits from the start.

84% of students worry about having enough money to live on.

Whilst the new-found independence that uni brings is great, it can be stressful being in charge of everything all of a sudden. A survey by Save the Student found that 84% of students worry about having enough money to live on, whilst 42% said relationships with friends and family have suffered because of this stress.

So how can you get into good money habits and avoid financial stress?

1) Make and stick to a budget

The first key step is creating a budget. Setting out a weekly budget is a really good way of ensuring you don’t overspend. Read my article on budgeting to learn how to make your student loan last longer.

Sticking to a budget ensures you don’t run out of cash and, in my experience, it alleviates some of the stress associated with managing your money.

Once you’ve sorted a budget out, it’s easy to keep up good habits.

2) Leave your bank card at home

Never take your bank card on a night out. Nip to a cash point before you head into town and take out how much you’re willing to spend on drinks, plus a bit extra for a taxi or some chips before you head home.

I’ve made the mistake before of taking my contactless card out, and didn’t realise until checking my account the next day how much I’d actually spent. Leaving your card at home avoids this unnecessary expense and the nasty surprises it may bring.

3) Curb your shopping enthusiasm

Don’t spend needlessly. Limit the amount of treats you buy yourself. Don’t be ordering takeaways every week. Don’t buy that new t-shirt unless you need it.

Do your food shopping at Aldi or Lidl rather than Tesco Express or Co-Op – this will save you a shed load of cash. The products are almost identical in quality but can be up to half the price.

4) Consider part-time work

If you think you’ve got good spending habits but you’re still struggling for cash, consider getting a job. Whilst you might think it would be difficult to balance work with uni and socialising, in my experience it’s quite easy.

Most unis offer part-time jobs for students, working in the student union or as a university representative can be great jobs and only demand a few hours a week.

5) Ask for money advice if you’re struggling

If a job isn’t for you or you’re still struggling for money, don’t suffer in silence. Talk to your parents or the student services team at your university. There will always be somebody there to listen to your worries and help you find ways to sort it out.

Whilst money is obviously important, it’s common to struggle at first and you have the next three years to find your feet. So don’t let financial stress ruin your university experience.

84% of students worry about having enough money to live on.
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Tom is a Geography student at Sheffield Hallam, and is currently on a placement year.