When you head off to university, it may be the first time that you have cut the purse strings at home, unleashing new freedom, but also new responsibilities. One of the biggest things that you’ll have to learn to do is how to create, and stick to, a budget. Yes, keep an eye on the cash. It may be tempting to throw one big party when you move away from home but, in reality, you won’t be able to afford it, and don’t forget, you’re at university to study too! Here are some helpful ways to stay on budget.

Where you live

Paying rent for student accommodation is probably going to be your biggest monthly expenditure. Therefore, when you’re looking for a place to live, make sure it’s not only comfortable and convenient, but it also suits your budget. There are lots of options out there, so pick carefully. It’s a commitment that you don’t want to tie yourself to if you can’t afford it.

Draw up a monthly budget

It sounds dull and boring, but it’s essential if you want to keep track of where your cash is going and make sure you’re not going to run out when you need it. Sit down each month and go through your income and outgoings and draw up a monthly budget on your phone, tablet or computer and keep it up to date with your spending. You need to be factoring all of your costs, including food and drink, study costs, public transport and money for items such as toiletries, clothes and socialising. You should be strict and make sure your budget is realistic. It will become the backbone of your spending each month, helping you to keep on top of your finances.

Transport costs

If you’re looking to keep your transport costs down, whether it’s taking a bus, tram or train, then think about how you can make your journeys to and from university cheaper. Could you walk? How about investing a bicycle and hitting the saddle to get to lectures? Both of these will also help keep you in good health. If you do need to take a bus, you could check if the university has any of its own transport available where you’re living and studying. Or, if you need to pay, take a look at what passes are available for regular use; weekly and monthly ones, for example. They can help save you money on the daily ticket price.

Plan your groceries

Now you have to prepare all of your meals, plan out what you’re going to eat and when. It will help keep your bank balance looking a bit healthier. There’s no point in rushing around the supermarket impulse buying lots of different things, then getting home and realising that you don’t have anything that will make a full meal! Or you’ve just loaded your basket with expensive ready-prepared meals. Write a list before you head out for the groceries, think about the meals you’re going to cook in the week ahead and stick to your plan. It will help save you some cash.