You need to set up a budget if you expect to have your maintenance last until the end of the year. I recommend either using apps or spreadsheets. The apps I would recommend are Emma or Money Dashboard. They both offer the same features as they track how much you spend and pulls all or most of your financial accounts into a single place so you can view all of the money coming in and going out each month. The main differences between the apps are that Emma is better looking whilst Money Dashboard is more customizable. They also help you to set up budgets and give you notifications for transactions. Emma is more helpful in giving you ways to improve your spending by allowing you to compare prices for bills and by giving your insight into what accounts you should try opening like SIPP’s or investment ISA’s so it’s like being able to access the money-saving experts’ recommendation on accounts to open but it’s all in the app.
If you aren’t confident with sharing your banking details with an app, I recommend using spreadsheets as you could replicate what these applications do however, you have to manually enter the transactions that have taken place on each of your accounts into the spreadsheets. When budgeting please take into account monthly subscriptions, direct debits and standing orders and compare whether there are any unnecessary expenses that you can cancel and if there are any subscriptions you can remove.
Identify all monthly outgoing expenses. This includes the total amount of money used for subscriptions and bills, amount of money for eating out, entertainment, grocery shopping, personal care, general shopping and transportation. You should also try to factor in any expenses for enjoyment like drinking or clubbing. Also, be aware of the amount of money you spend during fresher’s week at university.
Reduce your spending
Or at least try to so that you have more money to spend on important things. Freshers only last a week or 2, spending most of your maintenance during freshers could leave you without money for food or rent. Try to see if you can bring down any of your expenses. For example, if you have multiple streaming services and only use Netflix maybe get rid of the other subscriptions. For your phone bill try to see if you can get a better deal from somewhere else for example, if you only use data and don’t need to get the latest phone all the time maybe go on a pay monthly or pay as you go sim instead of a contract. Also, if you have an unlimited plan for data but only use 10GB, check if it’s cheaper to switch to a 10GB plan with your current provider or a different one. To save more money, learn to cook so that you don’t spend so much money on take away and try shopping at Aldi or Lidl and try using non branded items as they may be as good as branded items but cheaper. Also, if you’re going out to drink or going clubbing try pre-drinking so that you don’t spend so much and taking public transport or walking instead of getting taxis or Ubers could save you quite a bit.
If your living at home or worried about your family’s expenses try to bring down their payments for broadband, gas and electricity. With broadband providers, if you get a landline with your broadband most of the time it is cheaper. Also, if you join money savings expert energy savers club, every 6 months to a year you should compare prices for gas and electricity as new customers get better deals than old. If you want a more autonomous process you could use switchd.co.uk between £0-5 per month to switch you to the cheapest gas and electricity provider, the site tries to save you at least £300. I haven’t used swtichd.co.uk but from my experience with the energy savers club, I was able to save nearly half of what my parents were paying on gas and electricity.
After bringing down your expenses, see how much of the money in your current account you could save. For example, if I have a budget of £500 every month but my total expenses for bills, eating out, entertainment, groceries, shopping, transportation and subscriptions total to £300, you could save £200. This will give you a rough idea of how much money you will be able to save each month then decide how much of that money will go out each month into each of the accounts you choose to set up.
Smarty is the phone service I use as its cheaper than O2 while providing good service. If you want a mobile phone plan that gives you upgrades then sorry it probably isn’t for you as it is a no contract sim provider. Also, they’re customer service is all online and they don’t have a mobile app so if being able to talk to customer service or having an accessible mobile app is important to you I recommend that you use a different service. If you decide to use the link I provided then you and me both get a free month.