An effective way to manage your money as a student is to set financial goals. For the purpose of this article, I will take ‘financial goal’ to mean any goal or aim to do with managing your finances as a student. But what financial goals can you set, especially during the stressful years of being a student? As a young person currently in university myself, involved in a number of non-profit organisations and working towards setting up my own business, I have a number of tips to effectively manage your money by setting financial goals that will ensure you have a lot fun but do not break the bank.
Tip 1: The Prodigal Son Tip
Don’t spend lavishly. This is a very straight forward tip but we all (the entire student population) tend to forget this overtly obvious tip when student loan appears in our accounts. Everyone deserves a treat but do you really need that mink fur jacket? Set yourself a financial goal, such as ‘I will only spend £50 per term to treat myself’.
Tip 2: The Essentials List
Writing down an essential list and sticking to it can be a very handy financial goal. This essentials list should only contain things you absolutely cannot live without. That means the second or third tea pot can stay off the list whilst toothbrush and toothpaste needs to be on it. This list will allow you to see where you can make up for ‘Tip #1’
Tip 3: Looking Ahead
Most entrepreneurs or students who are heavily involved in activities outside of their education will appreciate this tip. Set yourself a financial goal to save money for other things. I know that this will be a particularly difficult tip because the life of a student can be so straining at times. But if you are able to utilise tip 1, tip 2 and eventually tip 4 you may be able to save some money.
Tip 4: Inflow/Outflow
Work out how much you get coming in and you have going out every month or week.
Tip 5: Managing your overdraft
The student population seems to be split in two. One side looks down on account overdraft and the other use up their entire account overdraft. A useful tip may be to not always look down on it as it may come in handy especially if you know you will be getting a return for the investment. However the other side to this argument will say that using up your overdraft (especially on useless things) can be extremely stressful when you have to repay it with future income.
Tip 6: Do your research
I currently go to university in London and everyone knows that accommodation in London is anything but cheap. I remember when I was about to go in to my first year and I had the choice between staying at home and going out. I chose to find accommodation because there are a number of skills that I learnt in University being on my own that I will not have learnt if I had stayed at home. But the search for cost-appropriate accommodation was hard. I eventually found accommodation that was a good price, albeit had an expensive deposit. Anyway, doing extensive research, and not only over the internet but through university and letting agents, will be a financial goal that you would definitely need to look in to.
Tip 7: Coupons and Student discount
Take absolute advantage of food coupons in magazines and newspapers as well as student discount. Never leave the house without your student I.D. Doing this will help you stay in budget.
Tip 8: The wonders of walking
‘Save on transport, use a bike’ and ‘walk everywhere’ are my mottos during term time. Do not get cab everywhere that you go, that phenomena should be saved for late nights when the buses have stopped working, you are stranded and are about to get eaten alive by man-sized cockroaches.
Tip 9: Be cost efficient
This tip reinforces the rest. If you find a top for £4 and a top for £10 and they are the same but different brands, which will you pick?
Tip 10: Back-packing
I write this article from the wonderful beaches of Marrakesh. It is summer and I have saved enough to treat myself (this is my tip #1 in action). But a great alternative to flying first class around the world is back-packing. For those of us that are citizens of the EU, this will be very cost-efficient for you and is a great way to experience the cities or places that you visit in a new light.
My bonus tip for you all is ‘Friendless students are the richest students’ (as well as the saddest). Much money can be spent on gifts and birthday outings, be cost-efficient, set financial budgets for each and you just may be able to keep a friend or 2 during your time at university.