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School of Mathematics

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My saving tips and spending habits

by Jena / from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam / BSc Mathematics and Business / 2nd Year (UG)


Coming to university, checking your bank account’s balance can be one of your least favourite things to do. There are a lot of expenses to consider, such as tuition fees, rent, transportation, groceries, and social activities, which sometimes can be overwhelming. The questions ‘Should I eat out today?’ or ‘Should I have some drinks with friends this Friday?’ used to float around my head. However, with a bit of planning and finding alternatives, I no longer felt under pressure to answer those questions. In this blog, I’ll share my saving tips that I have used my past two years. 

Track Your Expenses 

This very first step is effective when it comes to knowing where your money is going. In my first year, I had a spreadsheet of my weekly spending, which is categorised into sections, including Education (Tuition fee, textbooks, stationery), Rent, Groceries, Eating out, Entertainment (traveling, shopping, cinema, …). I used to log every purchase, every item I bought in that spreadsheet, which is sometimes helpful when I want to compare prices of the same product in two different stores. Now that I get used to it, I only keep track of how much I spend for each time.  

Create a Monthly Budget 

Start by allocating money for essentials such as rent, groceries, and transportation. This may take some time at first to know how your monthly budget should look like and it can also vary throughout the year. For example, monthly, I allocate a maximum of £80-100 for groceries, £35 for café and dining out, £40 for entertainment, £10 for others (gifts and other unexpected spending)… These numbers may change depending on which month it is, specifically, I allocate more money on necessities and groceries at the beginning of the year because I need to buy new spices, and less on entertainment. The key thing is to be realistic about your spending limits and stick to your budget as closely as possible. 

Meal prepping, and cooking with friends 

Image shows table set with with plates, chopsticks and candles. Food is in the middle, with a laptop displaying a Netflix logo at the edge of the table.

I can’t stress enough how useful meal prepping is to me. I used to hate cooking and preferred washing dishes, but at the same time, I can’t eat out every day as it can quickly drain my bank account. During my first year, I had to call my mom so many times during cooking to ask for her recipes. So, it’s definitely a good idea to go to the kitchen, help your family prepare food and learn some new recipes whenever you’re at home.  

I take some time at the beginning of each week to plan my meals, create a shopping list, cook large quantities of meals then store them in the fridge. Not only will this save you money, but it will also save you time during busy weeks. 

Gradually, I fell in love with cooking, and cooking with friends has become me and my friends’ favourite thing to do whenever we want to hang out. Trust me, it feels great to cook the food you like with the people you love. Nothing is better than saving money while enjoying time with friends. 


Glass lunchbox with three compartments, each containing rice, salad leaves, and grilled meat

Understanding your priorities 

I understand that sometimes, sticking with your budget means fewer opportunities to do the things you like. However, there are a few things that I always make sure not to be hard on myself. These include physical and mental health, and knowledge. Particularly, I bought a gym membership to stay active and occasionally, I hang out in the café with my friends. When I want to learn some piece of new knowledge, I seek my friends’ advice first then go for online courses.  

Investing in yourself is never a waste of money! 




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