One of the biggest changes to adapt to at university is managing your finances on your own: here, our student blogger Ita explains how she looks after her money.
Being a student is not easy, especially if you move out of home and have to live on your own in a different city. Students often deal with nostalgia for home, struggle to make new friends (at least initially), find it difficult to settle into a new environment and on top of all this they also have to manage their finances. This has never been easy but has become even worse due to the cost-of-living crisis. Below I will share some tips on how you can manage your finances. It is, however, important to note that everybody goes about this differently: what worked for me might not work for you!
- Track your expenses. First of all, it will be useful to make sure you know how much you’re spending and on what. This will give you a clear picture of your financial situation and might help you identify the areas where you overspend. There are many systems you can choose to do track your spending. Personally I use the Kakeibo method, but generally it is always the best option to find something that works for you.
- Student discount. Edinburgh is a student-friendly city so a lot of places will offer student discounts (shops, cafes, restaurants, galleries, cinemas, etc.). Whenever you’re out-and-about, have your student card with you and if you’re unsure whether a place offers a student discount, simply ask.
- Think carefully about shopping. Before you go shopping, make a list of what you actually need to buy. Also double check for weekly or monthly offers in the supermarkets. Personally, I shop at Lidl as it is the cheapest supermarket in Edinburgh (at least I haven’t found a cheaper one!) and it also offers high quality products. When buying groceries you can also look for things that are a bit closer to the “best before date” as they will be cheaper and, when it comes to fruits and vegetables, often in a very good condition.
- Ask for advice and support. If you find that you are struggling with managing your money, don’t hesitate to ask for help. The University and EUSA (our Student Association) will be able to offer you different forms of support. The Advice Place is the best place to start. You can either come in person or look through their online materials. Remember that you are not alone and we are here to help you.
- Extra income. You can always try to find some one-off or part-time jobs opportunities. Just remember that you need to be able to combine a potential job with your studies, so at the beginning one-off opportunities may be preferable. You can look for these via MyCareerHub (available via MyEd) or you can also visit the Advice Place to ask for advice.
- Managing your bills. If you are living in a rented flat rather than a University-managed accommodation, you might want to lower your bills. The easiest ways to do so would be to use electricity mindfully (e.g. switching off the lights if not using them, limiting the number of times you do laundry, making sure that the washing machine is at least ½ or ¾ full and washing at lower temperatures whenever possible) as well as controlling your heating (e.g. setting a thermostat at a constant temperature rather than letting the flat become too cold).
Read more from Ita:
- Choosing your courses: Ita’s electives advice
- Introducing our newest writer: Ita joins the student blog team
These are just a few basic tips on how to manage your finances at uni. It might take some time before you feel like you actually control your finances. The most important things are: find a way to track your spending (a way that works for you) and don’t hesitate to ask for help or advice.