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By Mercedes Akpobire

Tips for surviving university on a tight budget - Vol. 1

2 min
Young woman sitting outside on steps holding phone and bank card in hands

This month, we’re focusing on how best to manage your money. With rising bills and mounting environmental pressures, it’s never been more important to plan your finances – including students who are supporting themselves financially through university.

To provide some help, we’ve asked three students who are supporting themselves through university to share their advice, tips, tricks and hacks for good money management. This includes how to make money and spend wisely.

First up is Mercedes, a third-year medical student at Aston University, who will be sharing her top tips for what you should and shouldn’t be doing when it comes to spending.

How to spend your money wisely

I’ve been studying away from home for the last two and a half years, supporting myself financially. From my personal experiences, I can confidently advise on how not to use your money. With that in mind, here are my big three on what not to do…

Don’t food shop without a game plan

When it comes to meals, I like to decide what I feel like eating on the day. Unfortunately, as I learnt the hard way, that was a luxury I couldn’t afford – pun intended!

Going food shopping without a clear plan and a budget for the days and weeks ahead will ultimately result in spending way more than originally intended, and most likely lead to food waste.

If you plan your meals in advance, you can make sure you only buy what you need.

Don’t buy unnecessary resources

Studying medicine requires a lot of hard work and a lot of reading from different textbooks and online resources.

The majority (if not all) of the resources that you will need will be available in your university library. Don’t make the mistake of buying books or online resources that you could otherwise access for free.

Don’t underestimate the extra costs

Transport (for example, to placement or visiting home for the weekend), equipment (paper, pens, computer, stethoscope etc.), extra-curricular activities, meals, nights out and midnight snacks are all essential to the university experience.

Individually, they don’t seem to cost much. But they all add up and should be considered within your budget. Giving thought to and setting aside parts of your budget towards the forgotten extras will save you from being blindsided in the future.

University and being away from home can be overwhelming, especially in the beginning. As time passes, you will naturally find what’s right for you – and hopefully you won’t fall into the same financial traps I did!

Thanks to Mercedes for the fantastic tips. We hope you found them useful, and if you have any money management hacks to share, contact us on Instagram @thewesnextstep.

You can also find more tips in volume two of supporting yourself financially through university.

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