Balancing The Books At University

(Mark O'Sullivan is the creator of the Student Budget app and also currently a student. As well as being frustrated by the lack of a decent budgeting apps for students on Android phones, Mark also created the app as a way to show his skills off to potential, future employers. Since releasing the app last September, and despite some initial hiccups, the app has so far gone on to reach an impressive 1,800 downloads. Here, he writes about the importance of budgeting for students and provides some tips as well.)

The student life is glorious but it can also be pretty grim if you make foolish decisions, especially if you make foolish decisions with your money.

Personally, I thought the best thing to do would be to plan out a budget so I’d never run out of money and have to face just having one meal a day; the dreaded “brunchner” (breakfast + lunch + dinner).

I thought the best thing to do would be to just download a budget app aimed at students which would be simple enough that any student could use it so that they can make a quick but effective budget. Unfortunately, when doing this on my Android phone, there was one budget app for students. I downloaded it, and in all honesty I was left rather disappointed.

The Student Budget App Arises

During my first year of Computer Science, I decided that during my summer holidays I would make my own budget app aimed at students, and the Student Budget app was born.

By entering your incomes and expenses, you can work out how much money you’ll have left over each week or if you’re spending too much money you’ll discover how much money you’re losing each week. There’s also an option for students to enter any upcoming payments they have to ensure they don’t forget about them.

The Importance Of Budgeting

Personally, for myself I’ve found my own application to be very useful. Previously I had no real easy way to make a budget, now I had my app and could easily see what I was spending a lot of money on and I could also easily see how much money I was getting per week from my loan. I noticed that I was spending a lot of money on nights out, so decided it would be best to only bring £30 out with me on a night out instead of my usual £40, that £10 saving over the long run could easily be saving me a couple of 100 £££, and it was so simple as well!

A common problem people will face while at University is trying to budget to make sure they have enough money to last them the rest of the semester. Have you ever noticed how nearly every single student is out in the first couple weeks of the semester? Compare that to the last couple weeks of semester, there’s probably less than half the amount of people out and this is usually down to students running out of money towards the end of the semester. A lot of students spend way too much money in the first couple of weeks and so are left with very little money to do them the rest of the semester. This is because the majority of these students haven’t planned out their finances or made a budget.

Want Some Tips? Here Are Some Tips

Finally, I want to share a couple of tips to help with finances.

  1. Use Student Budget – Of course you should use my app! I’ve had plenty of feedback from students who say that the app has been really useful for them.
  2. Find Out What Nightclubs Offer Special Deals On Their Drinks - Plenty of nightclubs offer deals on their drinks on certain nights of the week, so try and head to them nightclubs on those nights to take full advantage of their deals. It’s saved me a lot of money in the past and so could probably help save you money as well!
  3. Eating Out Is More Expensive Than Cooking Food Yourself - Many people like myself enjoy eating out, it can be a lot more expensive than cooking yourself some food. If you find that you’re eating out a lot, you could probably save yourself quite a lot of money cooking food for yourself instead.
  4. Keep Yourself Warm - To avoid spending a lot of money on heating there are numerous things you can do to keep yourself warm. Cover up the windows with curtains and blinds( if you haven’t already done so, these can keep the heat in and the cold out). Wear extra layers of clothing, invest in an onesie, they’re really warm and you’ll appreciate them in those cold nights, buy yourself a hot water bottle, they are life savers on those bitter cold nights!
  5. Avoid Wasting Electricity - Don’t fall asleep with your lights and TV on, (like my flatmate does) there’s no point keeping on lights and electrical equipment on when they are not being used, i.e. you’re wasting money.
  6. Follow Student Related Websites On Twitter - there are many student websites out there that tweet daily about deals / tips for students. Student Budget has a twitter account: @StudentBudget_. Some of the other student accounts which I find very useful: @studenthouses_, @BigStudentDeal, @MyUNiDAYS, @thestudentroom.
  7. Avoid Taking Your Credit/Debit Card Out - Try and plan how much you’re going to spend in a night out, this can also be applied to shopping as well. When you’re out and you have your credit/ debit card out with you, the temptation will be there to spend more.
  8. Keep A Track Of Upcoming Payments - The last thing you want is to look at your bank balance and see money missing and you don’t have a clue why, especially when your finances is getting low. Keep a track of your finances and know when any upcoming payments such as Rent or Mobile Phone bills are due. There’s a feature on Student Budget to help you with this.