Sunday 18 September 2016

Tips on saving/budgeting

I have just finished uni and whilst I was there I had to grow up quickly in terms of budgeting my finances. The year before I had taken a gap year and had never worked full time or earned a reasonable sum on money, so I went a little crazy spending. As soon as I started uni I realised things had to change, and I quickly started becoming aware of my finances.

My parents always say I am good with my money, and I think this is something to be proud of. They sometimes says I can be a little too tight with my money, but I don't see this as a problem. I actually see it as being responsible. I have learnt quite a few tips and tricks along the way, and I have definitely put them into place this summer between finishing uni and starting my new job.

A simple but effective one is making use of loyalty cards. I used to find them a pain to carry around, but I keep a little card case with loyalty cards in which I don't use too often. I keep the ones which I use on a frequent basis in one side of purse. I find the beauty cards from Boots and Superdrug are my most used, and for very little effort points are collected very easy. I also find the Boots app very useful as all your offers now get uploaded to your app so you can just show the offer on your phone, rather than carrying around promotion paper offers.

If you are at uni I suggest you get an NUS card. They are £12 per year which is excellent value for the amount of discount you get. You can 10% off almost of retail shops, 25% national express, 25% odeon tickets, 40% pizza express and so many more deals, the list is huge. I bought a 3 year one for £33 which saves you a little bit instead of buying them on a yearly basis. As I have mentioned I have just finished uni, but I have a sneaky tip. If you are still able to log into your university login page then you are still able to buy a new 3 year card. This is exactly what I did recently and now it is valid until September 2019.

I also think downloading apps to your phones and tablets can be extremely useful. Most bank companies now have mobile apps which you can use on the go. I am with the RBS and the app is a total lifesaver. It instantly updates your account when you spend so you know exactly how much you have and how much is due to go out. If you have two accounts with them like I do such as a savings account you can easily just transfer between them, which is instant and so convenient. If you need to add a member of family or friends to your account, in order to transfer between accounts you can add them via the mobile calculator and they are then added onto your app. They have security settings with an access code which is different to your pin code, and when you first set it up there are lots of security questions and verifications. If you are not sure about having an app on your phone, online banking is just as good, and works in exactly the same way.

Other apps which I find useful are ones such as o2 priority. My sister is obsessed with this app and wanders around the shops collecting all the freebies. Coffee shops always have free drinks, Boots has offers and WHSmiths always has something free to collect. My favourite is the Pizza Express £5 main course and me and mum use it on a weekly basis! I am sure other phone companies have similar apps and it is definitely worth having a look to see what offers they have available.

If specific downloaded apps and cards aren't your thing, then I have one tip for you to use the notes feature on your phone or in fact a good old notebook. At the start of the week I make a note of how much I have in my bank account (using the app!). If I am buying just one thing e.g. petrol I will write it in my notes there and then. If I have been on a big shopping spree, I collect my receipts and make a collective note of my spendings and write that down. It is not time consuming at all, and keeps you on track. If I have a refund or any other money due in my account I add a + so I know that is due in, and anything which is due out I add a -. A really simple strategy which keeps me on track. My mum does the exact same but writes it in her bank book which is a more traditional older way of doing it, but it is something she has always done and it works well for her. My point on this is choosing what works for you, and sticking to it and before you know it you will be a simple monthly routine.

If you have just got a loan or bursary into your account, then try and make a note of how much you're going to give yourself each month, and then each week. When your bills are due is something which people underestimate. I did have an overdraft at uni of £500, for me it was never my intention to use it but it was always there as a safety net if it was ever needed. Everyone's financial circumstances are different and it's all about doing what is right for you, but my main point is spending within your means. I used to see my wages from my jobs as my way of being able to socialise and buy myself things. I would never use my other money such as my loan and bursary for those occasions as I knew it was to pay for everything else which had to be paid for. I had some weeks where I had not much money and others where I felt good about my finances, it really is about balance and not blowing it or going overboard all at once.

Whilst I was at uni I was maybe a bit over the top with worry about my finances and budgeting, and I would let it worry me when really I didn't need to. I now have a job which I am due to start tomorrow and me and my friends cannot wait for our first payday. We can't really get used to the idea of having a large sum of money in our bank accounts and it being for us to spend on us. I am either going to be really tight and save, or going mad and spend it all in one weekend. If you see a huge haul at the end of October you know which way I chose! I am thinking of doing an updated one of these in a few months to see if I have any different tips with having a full time job rather than being a student.

Do you have other tips?


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