Money Tips for Uni Students
The beginning of September marks the official end of summer and can mean going back to education 🙁
As a university student, you could be living away from home, balancing different loans, and are exposed to new bills all through a tough transition period. So being able to manage your finances effectively will be one of the most important skills to learn. Below are 5 tips to help you manage that transition and keep on top of your finances.
1. Keep expenses low and have a budget
Creating a budget is probably one of the most critical things you’ll need to do as a student. By creating a budget you’re able to truly get to grips with your monthly incomings and outgoings. The first step to creating a budget is to examine the past few months and see how similar or dissimilar this will now be as you go back to studying. Additionally you’ll need to have an idea of how much money is coming in and from where. As you write down your expenses think of them in 2 main categories
- Non Negotiable expenses i.e. rain or shine you must pay these – Rent, insurance, utility bills
- Discretionary expenses – Food, transport, hair, waxes, petrol, alcohol etc.
Once you’ve drawn up your expenses, look at the difference between what is coming in and what is going out. If your outgoings are greater or even the same as your incomings then you have a problem to address. You can do this by going through your expenses and looking at where you can sustainably cut back or alternatively increasing the amount of money coming in.
A few ways to cut down expenses:
- - Second hand books or borrow from library
- - Shop around for best gas & electricity deals
- - Council tax discounts
- - Don’t go food shopping when hungry!
2. Grab those deals and freebies ... shop smart!
Be smart and savvy! The freebie lifestyle is something which I am most proud of when I was a Uni student. Fresher’s week and career fairs, these are the true gold mine when it comes to collecting freebies. I’ve even heard stories of students who would use evening Campus Company events to pre-drink before going out! This isn’t something I’d advise doing, but the mentality of these opportunities to lower your outgoings is the correct one. Other than that, collect loyalty cards, be on the lookout for deals, and use your student discount as much as possible. Your student ID should be your best friend and the first thing you should ask everywhere you go is “Do you have student discount?”.
Install plugins such as Pouch and Quidco or even join the HotUKDeals Whatsapp group so that you can see what deals are available for what you need. Make sure you apply for a Railcard (is free with some student accounts), a discounted Oyster and an NUS card!
3. Don't spend it all at once! - Student loans & grants
Student loans & grants are a blessing. But the way that they are deposited into our accounts tests our discipline to the highest degree. With instalments up to £3K deposited each term it can become very easy to get carried away. By carried away, this could involve spending the money too quickly or buying designer clothes / expensive bottled beverages rather than putting it towards important things such as rent & books. As hard as it may be to believe, there have been many people who thought it was a great idea to do this and ended up evicted or even expelled.
The best way to treat your Student funds is to have it deposited in an account that is different from your main account and drip feed it to your main account monthly. If you apportion it equally then you can set up a direct debit that will pay it into your main account automatically.
4. Don't go crazy with the overdraft
Overdrafts are a silent killer - if you don’t watch it and have a credible plan of how you will pay it back you could land yourself in trouble. In order for you to not fall into its snare, remember that you may not need to use up all your overdraft. After checking your budget you should know how much to you’ll need to utilise.
There are too many horror stories of people who are still swimming in their overdraft after 5 years of working. In fact, there are people who have to pay over £100 a month in charges just because they went a bit overboard with their overdraft usage. Make sure you check with your bank on when you need to begin paying it back and have a credible plan of how you will reduce it to zero by the time the interest free period is over.
5. Make money on the side
Jobs – working at places such as the local supermarket has the advantage of not only giving you some money, you’ll be privy to when the deals i.e. discounted items come on sale plus you’ll get discount naturally as an employee.
Grants – Check out here to see if you’re available for any grants to help towards your studying. I didn’t believe I was able to get one since I didn’t receive any from Student Loan Company or my Uni, but I did some research and found that I can get £800 just for going to a primary school in a certain catchment area.
Side hustles – Events promoter, eBay extraordinaire, tutor, writer on Fiverr – so many side jobs which you could do in your spare time to make some extra money. Why not?
Now it’s time for you to act. Keep your expenses low, be savvy, manage your loans and overdrafts effectively and try to make some extra income on the side. Trying to get good grades is enough hassle so don’t let money matters be another burden on your mind. Apply these tips and stay on top of your finances.