University is a defining period for lots of young people. For many, it’s their first time away from home and a chance to experience what it’s like to be away from the safety net of mom and dad. Whether you’re going to be attending your first semester in the fall or you’re a returning student looking to better keep their finances in check, here’s five money management tips you need to know.

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Creating a Budget

Creating a budget may sound complicated, but it doesn’t need to be. Compare your expected income with your expected expenditure and remember to always keep some savings left over in case any unexpected expenses come up. Remember to be flexible with your budget. Keep making changes every month as you start to learn more about your own spending habits.

Focusing on the Essentials

It can be tempting to immediately go shopping the moment your next student payment kicks in, but you need to remember that this has to last the next few months. Student life can easily devolve into non-stop partying and, while you’re expected to socialise and have fun, you should always make sure you have enough to money left over to cover your essentials, like the rent, utility bills, and food.

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Increasing Your Income

Sometimes you’re student loan just doesn’t go far enough. If you’re sick of only being able to afford to eat instant ramen until your next payment kicks in, consider getting a part-time job to help supplement your lifestyle. Just remember to try and find something with flexible hours that won’t interrupt your studies.

Reducing Your Expenditure

Similarly, consider some of the ways you can reduce your expenditure. If you travel on the train a lot, invest in a 16-25 Railcard which will earn you a third off all future fares. You can also apply for an NUS extra card which will entitle you to discounts at a bunch of different high-street retailers.

Handling Tough Situations

Finally, even the most frugal of us can find themselves in a tough situation. If you’re short on cash, and you’re next student loan payment isn’t due for a couple of months, consider taking out a short-term loan from lenders like Smart Pig. If you decide to do this, make sure you borrow only what you need. Since you’ll be paying interest, the more you take the more you’ll have to pay back in the end.