Written by Olivia Beazley
MA Radio Production
This may not be the case for many prospective students, but for anyone undertaking postgrad studies before September 2016, there are no government loans or maintenance funding. This means for most of us the year is a serious investment. As well as eye watering tuition fees and accommodation costs, the day to day cost of living can really build up. This is why the student budget is more important than ever! Without the healthy deposit delivered every month by the good old government, you really notice your day to day spending habits.
The most important advice about being on a student budget is: be in the know. I’m not exactly going to be the next head of the IMF, I feel anxious logging in to my online banking, and scrunch up the ATM receipt before I can accidently see how much is left. Embrace the new found sense of maturity the fact of being a postgrad inexplicably affords you, and be grown up about knowing where it’s going and how much of it there is. Even if there’s not a lot it’s better to be in the know.
Secondly, be organised. Take half an hour on a Sunday or whichever day you do your food shopping and plan (even if it’s just roughly) your meals for the week, and do it in the kitchen so you can check how much bread, soup, pasta, cheese (the basics!) you have left so you don’t need to buy what you don’t need. This way you can see what ingredients can double up for meals on different days, as well as giving you a chance to buy for lunch on campus. You can also factor nice things into your weekly food budget without feeling guilty and make sure you’re staying well fed. I’ll admit I got into a really awful habit early in the term where I would end up skipping meals to economise. I don’t have to tell you that this is NOT a good idea – it’s not healthy and it just really isn’t necessary when you’re organised.
Be bothered to research! You need to get to London, for example. Can you spend £13 on a return bus ticket rather than £30 on the train? You need to pick up something on the way home – choose to walk the extra 10 minutes to Lidl rather than nipping into the Waitrose outside your house. Shop around online – Is it worth splitting Asda delivery costs with housemates? Can you get anything cheaper online? Will it be cheaper in bulk over the long run? Is this false economy or a good investment? You’re a postgrad now, you can justify spending time researching in order to save money.
Finally, your budget is your budget. Money is a very personal sensitive topic. It’s no one else’s business how you’re being funded and no one else’s business how you spend. Similarly, being at postgrad level, you’re much less likely to feel the pressure to spend what your friends are spending. If you’re feeling skint, then suggest a less expensive social activity or suggest doing a group meal. If you can’t afford to go out, it doesn’t matter. Don’t make a massive deal of it or make others feel guilty, but be firm and know your limitations. This way you don’t overspend and ruin your evening worrying that you’re overspending, and you can really enjoy a night that fits with your budget later down the line.
By Olivia Beazley