Living Independently-Part 2
‘Take care of the pennies, and the pounds will take care of themselves’
Starting university life may be the first time that you’ve had to budget and manage your finances. When you receive your student loan or indeed any money from the Bank of Mum & Dad, it can be tempting to just spend, spend, spend. But it’s obvious that this will need to last you more than a week! Here I’ve thought of a list of some of the costs that you should expect to incur and some tips to save some money.
Rent– You can set up a direct debit with Warwick Accommodation so that this money will be taken from your account when required, and you won’t need to worry about paying it on-time. When living on campus, your rent will cover bills. You will only need to pay for use of the laundry facilities: you will have to buy a card and then you then need to top this up online.
Bills- (for off-campus accommodation) Bills are not usually included in the rent so this is another expenditure to factor in. My rent through Warwick accommodation covers the cost of water usage, but we have to pay for gas, electricity and Broadband, and the total amount of bills you will spend will vary from household to household. Bear in mind that during the winter months, you will have to spare more money for heating the house. To give you a rough idea, it was £30-40 a month per person in our 4 person house in Earlsdon, but we did have a tumble dryer and had our house nice and warm throughout the winter. Broadband will depend on your provider and the speed you prefer, and will usually range between £35-45 a month overall, so the cost per person will depend on how many people you live with. Always call up the provider about a month before you intend to move out just to check that they won’t keep charging you (even if your contract says 9 months) as often it is a hidden term that you will have to end the contract.
Grocery shopping-Always plan your meals for the next few days and buy your ingredients accordingly. This is much more cost-effective than buying lots of ingredients and then thinking what to do with them! It could also be useful to think of meals that will use up the ingredients, for example if you use half a can of chopped tomatoes in a curry one day, plan to use the rest in a tomato-based pasta sauce the next day. It is also cheaper to batch make meals, so rather than getting just about the right amount of ingredients to serve a Bolognese for one, you might as well buy enough to make enough for 4 and then freeze the rest. This will also save waste as some foods will only come in larger packets. Keep an eye on the deals and – I’ve worked my way through a number of yogurt brands because a different brand would be on offer at different times. It is also worth trying a supermarket own brand rather than your usual- (but if you don’t like it at least you’ve tried!). It’s also worth having a look in the reduced section.
Pack your own lunch– (buy it as a treat!)- Making your own sandwiches, wraps, bagels and salads will save you much more money than you would think. On campus, sandwiches and baguettes can range from £2 to over £5, so this is fine for a treat but if you did this every day, and also bought snacks and drinks, it would really eat into your bank balance. You can make your lunch the night before- making a sandwich will take all of 5 minutes, and just take some fruit and a cereal bar, and you’re good to go. Making your own coffee in a travel mug will save both money and time spent queuing.
Social and other expenditures– There are small costs to join some societies and sports clubs, with sports clubs often having costs when attending classes (I go to aerobics classes and this is 80p a class, and I bought a swimming bundle for £25 for 10 swims). Then you’ll need money for having coffees/drinks with friends, stationery, bus travel (often wanting exact change), tickets to events and clubs and fares to travel home.
I hope this has given you some things to think about and has helped you feel more prepared!