Every year, the National Association of Student Money Advisers run a week-long campaign focused on helping students manage their money. This year's theme is all about breaking bad money habits; basically making you more aware of what you're unnecessarily spending and the effect that this can have. It's worth noting that small changes can have a huge (and positive) impact on your day-to-day life.
With that being said, let's go through just a few ways to break your bad spending habits:
1. Not buying food/drinks at university
So simple, yet so effective. All you need to do is prep your meals in advance and invest in a water bottle and flask to keep hydrated. If you're struggling for some recipe inspo Fresh Student Living are always uploading recipes whether you're a vegetarian/vegan or meat-eater. Plus, the price of the average 'meal deal' on campus should be more than enough to put you off!
2. Stop going 'out out' every other night
This is a tough one because when student life gets a bit overwhelming and stressful, you might feel like you NEED a night out to take your mind off everything. But do you really need to go out a lot? The amount you spend on entry fees, taxis and the cheesy chips on the way home could easily be saved and put to much better use.
3. Drinking less (or no) alcohol
Alcohol usually goes hand-in-hand with going 'out out' so, cutting one down will hopefully mean cutting down the other. Let's face it, booze is expensive! There's no harm in extending Dry January for another couple of months – not just for the financial benefit but because you'll feel much healthier and not have to worry about those awful hangovers...
4. Buying used books and resources
Whenever you start a new module, there's no need to buy all the books you need from the fancy bookshop on campus. Instead, head to Amazon for used books or ask around on your course Facebook group. How about when you've run out of pens, post-it notes and paper? Whenever your university is hosting a society/careers fair, go see what's going on because you're guaranteed LOADS of freebies!
5. Not paying for the most pristine gym membership
Yes, you might be able to show off on Instagram because your gym has a spa and sauna but do you really need that? You could get a much better deal at the university gym and some university campuses have a free gym on-site. If you're the self-disciplined type, all you need are some dumbbells and you can do plenty of HIIT workouts from your flat for free. Summer bodies are made in the winter, guys!
Now that you know some practical ways to break your bad spending habits, how do you keep on top of these?
- Write down your expenditures: Looking at all your 'bad spending' in black and white makes it hard to avoid and you'll be more likely to save money because you'll realise how much money just goes to waste.
- Only pay in cash: Once you've set yourself a budget (we recommend UCAS' budget calculator), withdraw your weekly budget in cash. This way you know exactly what you have left to spend and will avoid unnecessarily easy purchases here and there on your card – it all adds up. Just remember to keep it in a safe place!
- Pinpoint YOUR bad habits: We have suggested some bad spending habits you may have but what do YOU spend money on unnecessarily? Once you've got these figured out, you'll be saving money in no time.
Oh, and if your uni mates nip to 'Spoons between lectures, it might be difficult, but tell them you're watching your money and will sit this one out – the sight of your bigger bank balance will be worth it.