Before I started my first degree, I had heard nothing but financial horror stories about students who had spent all their maintenance loan in fresher’s week, or had basically ended up living on beans and rice for entire terms because nightly takeaways wiped out their overdraft. So, when I started university and received my first dose of student loan, I was determined to be as frugal as possible to make sure I never ended up in any of these situations. I always bought cheap, value-brand food, I cooked all my own meals and stored extra in the freezer, and I would walk everywhere.
These were all positive steps I took towards keeping myself financially stable…until I started pinching too many pennies. Soon enough, I stopped going to social events (I only attended two during the entire fortnight of fresher’s events my university put on) because I was worried I would spend too much. I wouldn’t go out to eat with my new friends because I just thought it would wind up being too expensive. Sure, I was reassured by the fact I wasn’t going to run out of money, but I was no longer even enjoying my university experience. It’s always good to have an emergency fund that can keep you afloat during hard times, but penny-pinching can go too far if you can’t even enjoy the good times.
Ultimately, I discovered that by developing a structured budget at the beginning of the year, with different spending pots allocated for emergencies, essentials and everything else, I could have a great time at university, while still being financially responsible. It feels amazing to have a fun night out AND wake up to a bank account that’s still in the green.
My unexpected discovery was that, with the use of a budget, a little bit of planning and some smart financial tools, penny-pinching doesn’t have to be painful.
King’s Student Money Mentor
Part of Money & Housing Advice
Studying Medicine MBBS (UG)
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