Someone will probably read the title and think - well, there's an app for that. Yes, there's a few apps, which will help you budget. However, this shouldn't remove our responsibility. Here's a few things I learned since I began managing my own finances. (If you're not interested in these, you can scroll down to the list of budget tips)
1. Respect your belongings. What I'm insinuating by this is - maintain your belongings. Maybe this is something that one learns with age. But this year I've really grasped what my mum used to always nag me about - if you want to have your stuff, you have to take care of them. That goes for electronics, clothes, shoes, books, anything. Everything needs some kind of maintenance, so lasts longer. Hence, you won't have to waste money on replacements and if you really want an upgrade, you can sell your old version (and a well maintained product will sell better)
2. Brand loyalty is not always worth it. While I prefer Spotify, I'll sure as hell make use of a free trial of Apple Music and Tidal. If British Airways don't have the cheapest overall tickets (though when they do it's a really happy purchase) to fly home, I'm gonna go for Ryan Air, I'll even look at Wizz (though the airport is so inconvenient for me!). It's worth weighing out your options. Sometimes, staying loyal to your favourite is not the best thing for your wallet.
3. Three month rule. Or whatever amount of time you find necessary. Something pops up online and you think you really want it... wait a few weeks and see if that's still the case. You might find that you don't actually want some of the items you were looking to buy. And if you know you want them but you're not in a great place financially, save them in a list and come back to them at a later date.
These are just three quick observational tips. Now for the longer list of things that will help you budget!
My brother suggested it to me and it's one of the best things for my budget. You can can define your monthly spendings per category and then keep track of how you're doing in each one. You get notification ever time you pay. Monthly reports that show your spendings. And probably my favourite feature - you can create money pots. They can be used for savings, which can be carried out in a few different ways. I have one pot which gets filled automatically - Monzo rounds every spending and puts the extra change in the pot. And one where all the funds that get withdrawn from the GoFund me campaign for Liminality go, because they're not mine to spend, they're MomaMomus money. Also, if you are referred by a friend, you both both get £5, so erm, use my link.
Planning your meals
You don't have to make a really extensive list of step by step recipes for every single meal (unless you want to, of course) but having an overview of what you want to eat/cook during the week can really help in terms of shopping. It will help you make better shopping lists. You can look at recipes online for ideas, you can browse through the online versions of the supermarkets you go to, etc. All this will definitely help when you have a tighter budget.
Look at the reduced sections, go to your local supermarket on Sunday before closing to see what they're reducing. Last week, I got a set of three cheeses for .40p down from nearly £3. Watch out, though, don't fall into the temptation of buying everything that's reduced in the dessert isle.
This one is kind of obvious, but keep track of discounts and always have your student card with you. This especially goes for food and going out - check when student nights are and know which places have discounts for food if you're a student.
You can sign up for free if you're aged 16-25. Open to everyone. You get tickets to paid exhibitions for just £5. And you can bring up to three friends aged 16-25 with you to any exhibition (with ID) even if they're not members. Sign up is super easy and you get extra benefits like discounts in the gift shop (10%) and cafe (20%). But honestly, to me, it's worth it because of the exhibitions. I've got tickets to Dorothea Tanning and The EY Exhibition: Van Gogh and Britain.
For the cinema lovers
I usually make use of the offers from the VUE or go to Peckham Plex. Don't forget your community cinema, such as Deptford cinema. There are also loads of offers with memberships, such as the Prince Charles Cinema, which offers a £10 annual membership or £50 lifetime membership (add tote bag for £5) for which you get access to regular £1 screenings among other discounts (this is also a great gift idea). Don't forget the BFI 25 & under!
Is this too obvious?
Try to do your big shops at budget-friendly supermarkets like Aldi, Asda, Lidl and Iceland. If you do all your shopping at M&S and Waitrose you're food budget for the month is definitely going up. Take a look at the £1 fruit and veg bowl at your local shops, you might see something you like. Coupons for experiences. Going out will be your biggest spending, so making use of something that happens to pop up (like the £22 two course bottomless brunch + Burlesque Show at Proud Embankment I recently went to), gives you the opportunity to have an amazing experience at a good price! Do I need to mention part-time jobs?
When I budget, I think about how I can get the most out of what I have. I like cooking at home, I have some very budget friendly and lovely recipes that I make fairly often, but I also like experimenting with new food. I like going out, I like going to exhibitions, brunch, cinema, etc. So to me balance is key.