Hello! Today I want to talk to you about the most important part of the spring clean – or at least the most important part for me and my fellow students. Spring is the last part of the Educational calendar, which means that every year students leave education to face the world. Most commonly, riddled with debt. I’ve been lucky enough to have supportive parents, but even with this support I’ll be leaving University with an overdraft, student loans and tuition fees to pay off. Without a plan this can appear frightening and overwhelming. So today I want to share with you what you can do to “Spring Clean” your finances, and start paying off your loans, saving for the future and getting ready to enter the world of post-education.
So here are the things you need to know about post education life:
1. Post education is very different in terms of finances. You may already be familiar with monthly expenses such as rent and bills, but on top of this council tax, insurance and licenses play a big part in your monthly expenses.
2. It is not an accepted practice to live off of fish fingers, and pizza.
3. …Or drink excessively three to five times a week.
4. Loans are not so easily obtainable – or so easy to pay back. They are more likely to cripple you than help you. Overdrafts are also not as friendly.
5. Sometimes your income won’t cover your expenses – this is normal.
A lot of these things I’m sure you are already aware of, some you may not be. But there are things you can do to plan for all of these events and make sure you successfully transition to be able to “adult” properly.
1. Budgeting actually does work! So long as you stick to it. Even for your last few months of University, getting a budget to eek out your final student loan instalment will help you cover the costs of living as well as your summer break. Put everything into your budget, from your food and rent, to your nights out drinking, and the money you want to put into savings. Then map out a clear understanding of your income and put them in on the dates you get paid. You can then work out your income and your outgoings systematically to see how much you need to budget a month. You can also do a hypothetical version of this for once you leave Uni, this will let you know what your minimum is for wages when looking for a job to cover your lifestyle choices. You can also look at areas to cut down on. The easiest way to put together a budget is either using a book or excel. I personally like using excel because of the versatility, and ease of searching for things.
2. Plan out your weekly meals – write these down and write up an ingredients list at the beginning of the week. This way you won’t have random pieces of food in your fridge that are going out of date, and you can buy in bulk – a big bag of pasta is cheaper and will last as long as you need it to. At the end of the week, check what you have left over from the week before, freeze what you need to, and write a menu to use up the rest of the food. No food waste, no money waste.
3. In the world of work, you’re not going to get into those Monday night student parties. You’ll be mainly limited to Friday and Saturday night dancing, so get used to that. You’ll be surprised at the amount of money you save from avoiding liquor as well. Personally I don’t really drink too often, but many of my friends have saved hundreds of pounds a month from ditching the liquor altogether, or just cutting down. Not to mention they are avoiding many many empty calories!
4. Credit cards are a very useful little pieces of plastic. However, they’re dangerous if they aren’t used properly – life ruining in fact. So proceed with caution. My credit card has meant I can pay my rent on time, buy petrol to get me those extra few miles home, and even buy my mum her birthday present. But I only ever use it if I have money in the bank to cover it, or certain that money is being paid into my account the following week which will cover the expenditure. Credit Card Insider is a really useful resource if you’re thinking of investing in a credit card, from finding out whether a credit card will benefit you, to choosing the right one – there are a lot out there! Be careful if you’re going to invest in one though, they’re only a useful resource if you handle your money right. They can ruin your life just as much as they can make it easier. The biggest benefit of credit cards is that if used properly they give you a great credit rating which helps with mortgages and loans for cars!
5. You don’t have to turn the heating down, swap your hot baths for showers, or skimp on your favourite foods to save money. Sometimes you just have to be smart with your money and make sure that you’re getting the best deals. So check the supermarkets for the best deals on your shopping basket, make sure you’re with the cheapest energy supplier, put your money with the banks with the highest interest, and keep reviewing these deals. You’d be surprised how often the best deal changes!
Hope these financial spring cleaning tips help you save your pennies and start your life in the best way possible. If you have any ideas about how to save more money, be smarter with your money, or any other tips about financial spring cleaning, then please let me know in the comments. I’m always looking for new ways to save money. Especially because the time to jump on that first plane into the world is getting so close!