GFF contributor Faith Richardson hunts down the best budgeting and money apps, sites and accounts to follow to keep on top of your finances while at university.
One of the most exciting things about going off to university is the independence you suddenly find yourself having – you’re usually away from your parents for the first time, and in charge of your food, your money and how many times a week you get to go out. It can be so easy to suddenly feel like your money is indispensable and “free” when it just gets deposited into your bank every few months, and trying to manage your money feels like something you don’t need to worry about. One thing you do quickly come to realise though, is that student loan doesn’t seem to stretch quite as far as you’d like, and a month of nights out, online shopping and maybe one too many Dominos pizzas has left you a little short until your next loan comes in.
Getting into the habit of budgeting your money is one of the greatest life skills you’ll ever learn and the sooner you figure out just how to keep an eye on the incomings and outgoings of your bank balance, the easier it will be. The average student loan for students living away from home and outside of London is around £8,700 a year, with students in London getting around £11,300. This sounds like a lot of money, but when you factor in your essential outgoings that can quickly diminish. Rent, food, travel and phone bills are all things that need to be paid monthly and it all quickly racks up, which is why budgeting should be your new best friend when you start your degree.
Don’t let a monthly budget put you off, it’s never been easier to organise your money and sort out exactly how much money you can spare for a late night takeaway with your flat mates or just how many nights out a week is feasible. We’ve scoured the internet to find some of the most useful apps, accounts and websites that’ll help you get your money in order, making sure your time at uni is as stress free as possible.
Squirrel me is the most straight forward way of managing your money – you simply upload your essential monthly outgoings (rent, bills, food etc.) into the app and it calculates exactly how much you have left to play with each month. You can even set it up so it gives you a chunk of your left over money each month to help stop you from over-spending.
This app is brilliant at stopping you from over spending on your food shop, as it compares the prices of all your local supermarkets to make sure when you do a big shop you’re not unnecessarily wasting money when you could be getting the same shop somewhere else for a fraction of the price. You can compare an individual product or create an entire shopping list for it to check for you – the ultimate way to save yourself some money for a treat or two.
It’s always good to keep some money in savings in case of an emergency – or to put towards paying off your loan or overdraft once you’ve graduated, and Chip is a really easy to use app that takes a look at your bank balance and spending habits and makes suggestions on how and where to cut back. It automatically puts some of your money aside for you each month so you can save up for something without having to think about it. Regardless of if it’s saving for something life changing or just to be able to treat yourself in an online sale without feeling guilty, saving money is always a winner all-round.
For an all-round app to help you manage your money, find you better deals and generally help get your finances in order, PocketGuard is the app for you. It looks at your spending habits, tracks your money and helps you make tweaks where necessary. It also looks at your regular outgoings, like phone bills, food shopping etc. and suggests better deals elsewhere so you don’t even have the hassle of doing your own price comparisons.
Instagram Accounts to Follow
This is a great Instagram account for anyone looking for a little bit of encouragement, helpful tips and a good old-fashioned checklist or two when it comes to saving money.
This account has so many useful tips and tricks that make saving your money feel completely accessible and not too overwhelming. They aim to help their followers look at money in a “real life” way, not to mention their totally share-worth meme content about money struggles.
Catered specifically for the younger generation, Stefanie aims to inspire students and young professionals alike to be savvy with their spending as, in her words; “The longer you opt out of your financial life, the harder and longer you’re going to have to work to get and keep more of your money”. Definitely a rule worth remembering!
Catered specifically for students, this gives a great oversight into how to manage so many different areas of student living, including a super useful checklist of different ways to keep track of your student spending.
UCAS is how you started your university journey, and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d seen enough of it to last you a lifetime, however they also offer some really handy lists and ideas on ways to thrive in student life. Their money saving tips and tricks easy to follow and cover a huge range of bases.
Aside from being a brilliant source of advice and articles covering everything from relationships to fashion, Refinery29 also has a section on work and money which gives a really thorough insight into everything in the working world, including career advice, financial help and guidance on a whole variety of related topics. The “Money Diaries” segment gives an insight into how different people on different budgets spend a weeks’ worth of money – great for making you stop and think about your own spending habits.
Words by Faith Richardson