Your lifestyle choices will have a massive impact on your budget. There are no rules about what you should or shouldn’t spend your money on – it is entirely your choice, and your responsibility to manage those choices effectively.
Whether your budget is not adding up or you want to save money for a big purchase, reassessing your lifestyle expenditure is a good place to start.
It's a fact of life that, unless you have a lucky lottery win, you cannot afford to spend money on everything you would like.
If your budget is stretched, the best way to review your spending is to categorise your expenses as either things you need (essentials) or things you want (luxuries).
It is important to remember that everyone is different. One person’s need might be another person’s want, so be honest with yourself when making these decisions. It is your budget and your life that is affected by your choices.
The information and tips below will help you to make choices that are right for you.
Socialising is an important part of student life. Having a low income doesn’t mean you can’t socialise, it just means you have to be clever about how you do it.
Set aside an affordable weekly or monthly allowance for socialising and stick to it. If you have a big event coming up, save up so as not to blow your budget in one go. Only take out the money you can afford to spend on that particular day but be sure to always have enough money to get home safely - scrimping when it comes to your personal safety is not something we recommend
There are plenty of free or cheap events at the UWS Student Union. You can also take advantage of student discounts at cinemas and shops, and use websites such as Groupon, Living Social, Voucher cloud and 5pm to find deals and enjoy nights out at a fraction of the cost.
The cost of sending your kids to weekly activities, like swimming and gymnastics, can be a significant part of your budget. If you can afford to do this, that’s great. But if money is tight, this is something you may need to reconsider.
If paying for these activities is going to cause you financial pressure and even put you in debt, you should think about whether they are worth it for your family. Think about the fun activities you can do with your children for little or no cost instead. Take a walk in a local park, feed the ducks, go to the beach or play games at home.
Keeping fit and healthy is important, and regular exercise can also help to relieve stress. Many students will spend money each month on gym memberships.
Many local councils and private gyms or health clubs will offer student membership rates. You won’t be a student forever so take advantage of these while you can. The University also offers fitness facilities at many locations, as well as sports clubs and societies.
Remember that gym memberships are often a contract, similar to a mobile phone contract. Make sure you are clear about the length of contract and any cancellation policies.
Mobile phones are an essential part of life, especially if you have moved away from your family home in order to attend university. There are two options when purchasing a mobile phone – monthly contract or pay as you go.
Monthly contracts can run for up to two years with the monthly fee including payment for the phone itself as well as the minutes, texts and data allowance that you choose.
Often a cheaper option is to get a mobile phone on a pay as you go basis, which means you do not need to commit to a contact. You will, however, have the upfront expense of buying the mobile phone outright. Pay as you go deals usually provide a set number of minutes, texts and data allowance if you top up a set amount each month.
Home internet access has become an essential part of life, but it can be costly. If you are thinking about getting internet in the home, you need to consider installation costs as well as the monthly price of the internet package and line rental.
Broadband packages are usually offered on a contract basis so you should make sure you are clear about the length of the contract and any cancellation policies. Money Supermarket and Compare the Market are comparison websites that can help you find the best home broadband deals.
Many companies understand that students have a low income so offer discounts to encourage you to spend your money.
The NUS Extra card is the official student discount card for those students represented by the National Union of Students. The card costs only £12 for one year (two or three-year options are also available). Take a look at the discounts available, as many students will easily recoup this cost.