Moving into your first digs is an exciting time. One filled with independence, responsibility, decision making and plenty of fun. But learning to manage your money when you’re living alone for the first time can be a little daunting. As a student, you probably don’t have much money to spare so it’s important you manage it correctly. So, here are some tips for managing your money when you move into digs. Create a budget It’s important that you know how much money you have coming in and how much you can expect to go out each month. Understand what you need to spend money on and allocate amounts accordingly. Remember, you don’t have to go out every weekend but you do have to eat. Creating a budget now, right at the beginning of living in digs, will ensure you're on the right track financially. Personal finance blogger Paula Pant says: “You need to have a plan in place to keep everything in order, or you’ll find yourself falling behind fast. You don’t have to track every dollar (who has time for that?), but have a basic idea the money that’s coming in and going out every month.” Decide on your priorities Now is when you need to decide what’s important to you. Are you going to take advantage of your opportunity to obtain an education or spend every night partying? This will decide whether you buy the textbooks you need for class or go out with friends. Yes, you can enjoy yourself but you need to remember you’re there to learn. Plan meals in advance When you’re leaving class after a long day of lectures, you’re probably going to want to head out to eat with your friends. But these trips out can add up pretty quickly. Rather plan meals ahead of time and go to the grocery shop. Preparing food at home is one of the easiest ways to save money. The good news is it’s cheaper than eating out, so you can splurge on some of your favourite ingredients. In addition, ask your digsmates if they’d like to take turns to cook. That way for a couple nights each week, you’ll eat dinner without buying ingredients or cooking a meal. Make use of student discounts Many shops and restaurants offer savings for students. Make sure you use these at every opportunity. You wouldn't say no to free money and not taking advantage of these discounts is basically doing just that. But remember not to increase your spending just to enjoy the discounts. Only use them for things you really need. Ask your friends for advice Whether they’re studying actuarial science or corporate finance, all of your friends will be in the same situation as you when it comes to money. Everyone will be looking for the best deals, the easiest meals and the best hacks for scoring freebies. One of your friends will be able to hook you up with something you need, so chat to everyone and someone will help you out. University isn’t cheap, but by making smart financial moves now, you can keep these costs to a minimum. Image: Unsplash

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