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How to...budget

By bzellie 20 Aug 2020

At our university, we have loads of home and international students. Most students are on the “Student Loans” system, hence they will have to go on a budget. Even if your parents are covering your tuition fees, at this age everyone should feel the need to not overspend when living alone.

As I have had to go on a budgeting process, I am going to share a few tips that I have used to keep the spending as low as possible (P.S. I am an international student).

First off, the first few weeks you will need to get accustomed to where you are living. What is the closest supermarket to get urgent items? Where is the biggest supermarket that allows you to save by doing a big shop for a week or two? What is the best mode of transportation to my lectures? Where can I get specific items? What do I need to buy (for your room, studies, etc.)?

If you can answer all those questions, you are ready to start budgeting. To determine how much you need to spend, you should be completely familiar with all kinds of costs that are ahead of you. I know this sounds like a lot, but trust me, you will be able to learn it as you go. For example, when a new expense comes up such as a phone contract, note it down either on your phone or notepad, you should also be sensible for this period of spending as you do not want to overspend.

When it comes to food: Look for shops such as Lidl or Aldi. These shops are big and contain everything you need at the best prices. When going to those shops, it is highly recommended to make a food shop for about a week or two as it is cheaper to buy things in bulk, and it reduces the amount of times you need to go.  If you live close to a Tesco, Sainsbury’s or Co-op, go to those if you need something urgently or if you are looking to buy something quick to eat, like a snack. For more information on how to make an effective food shop, check the How shop article on our website.

When it comes to transportation: I have always opted for walking as the choice for getting to lectures, and pretty much for all close places. However, for some students who happen to study Journalism (for example), their building is far away. Some options to help you stay under budget would be to use NextBikes. This company has an exclusive service for students at Cardiff University where the first 30 min of each day are free of charge. You can find docks all over Cardiff for them. For more information on how to gain access of this service, check the How to...NextBike article on our website. Using buses is another great way of transportation that will assist in staying under budget. If you live in University Halls, you have access to a free bus service that drops you at some of the university buildings. For local buses, I suggest downloading the Cardiff Bus app which gives you up to date information with routes and schedules. 

When it comes to gyms: Let’s be honest, everyone knows gyms are not the cheapest. During the first few weeks of moving into Cardiff, gyms in the city centre such as The Gym have huge student discounts on 9-month plans, which is all you need. Only downside to this is that you need to pay this all at once, but it really is worth it if you make use of the gym and not just have a membership which you never use.  Alternatively, you can also skip the gym entirely and take up running or exercising in your own room – check out our Lifestyle articles for some workout suggestions!

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When it comes to buying extras: Those extras include new clothes, gifts, etc. What I like to do after the first month of spending is that I would be aware of how much I am supposed to spend. The amount of money I have left by the end of the next month, I use it to buy “extras”. I highly recommend installing UniDays and Student Beans as they constantly have student discounts for tons of shops with world-renowned brands. As the time goes on, you will get better with spending as you will know where to get everything you need at the best prices. 

If you're struggling with managing your money, you can always reach out for support. Take a look at the Advice and Money webpage for more information.