Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Four top tips to managing your money at uni

The thought of managing your money while at university may appear daunting, but with a bit of planning it doesn’t need to be. We’ve got plenty of finance information on our website but if you need a bit more advice, we spoke to Izabella, from the Money Advice Service, who shared her top tips on how to make your money go further.

Make sure you know what to expect
If you’re starting university this September, it may be your first taste of independence and looking after your money. Being aware of the costs of being a student from the start, and knowing where you can cut costs will mean your money will go further and you won’t blow your budget.

1. Average costs of being a student
Each university will charge an annual tuition fee, which could now be up to £9,000 a year.

On top of this, there are other costs you should consider. The below table is from the NUS (National Union of Students).

Cost type
Cost per year
Personal items
Travel to university
Other travel and holidays
Household essentials, including toiletries
Books and equipment
Total cost per year

2. Work out a budget
A budget is simply a record of your incomings and outgoings. As a student, you may not have many incomings, unless you get a part-time job, but include your loans, any grants, and any money you may get from your family in your budget.

Try to work out how much money you will have at the beginning of each week or month, and remember this budget needs to cover accommodation, food, and books as well as socialising! Seeing the figures in black and white will make it easier to not overspend.

The Money Advice Service’s blog on budgeting as a student will help.

3. Review your spending
Having more money going out than coming in is a common worry for students. The first step is to review your spending. Could you cut back anywhere?

You may also be able to get a part-time job to help boost your income. Are there any jobs going at your students’ union, for example?

You should try to avoid getting in high levels of debt or missing any important payments, such as your utility bills. This can impact your credit rating in later life.

Your credit rating is used to help lenders decide whether to lend you money, how much to let you borrow, and, in some cases, how much interest to charge you. Learn more about your credit rating with the Money Advice Service.

4. Save money where you can   
Making certain choices over others could also save you money. For example, many bank accounts are very competitive when it comes to students, so there are often freebies up for grabs. A popular one is a 16-25 railcard, which gives you money off when you’re travelling (however, the railcard isn’t available in Northern Ireland).

If you think you will need to use an overdraft facility, it may be worth finding a bank that gives you an authorised overdraft, as long as you remember this isn’t free money and you will need to start to repay it when you graduate. The Money Advice Service has a useful guide on student and graduate bank accounts.

You can also save money by shopping smarter – by shopping around, using vouchers, and using outlet stores, for example. The Money Advice Service has more tips on saving money when shopping.

If you have any further questions, you can contact the Money Advice Service for free, impartial advice on 0300 500 5000. They can also be contacted on Twitter and Facebook.

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