How to manage your student finances

Getting a degree is expensive, but making every penny count means you can enjoy your university days without getting saddled with debt. Here are some essential tips on how to manage your student finances:

  • Work out a budget

It’s hard to set a precise weekly budget before you get to university and see what things really cost. However, trying to work out a rough budget before you go is still a good idea – even an estimate of how much disposable income you will have each week will help you avoid blowing all your money before freshers’ week is even over.

The simplest way to do this is to make a list of all your monthly income (loans, part-time work, parents etc.) and another of all your expenses. The more accurate you can be the better. Include everything – rent, bills, food, books, library fees, transport costs. Once you have these 2 lists –all you need to do is subtract the expense from your income to see what is left over for entertainment.

  • Get the right bank account

Before you choose a bank account, work out what features are important to you and pay attention to monthly fees, overdraft facilities and charges – not just the freebies that are being offered!

  • Spend wisely

Try to stick to the budget that you have worked out and shop around for bargains. Learn to cook for yourself rather than eating takeaways and ready meals.

  • Be smart about part-time jobs

Many students rely on part-time jobs to cover monthly bills and to pay for their social life. However, you should try not to over-do it. Evidence suggest that working more than 15 hours a week will have an impact on your studies. Make sure you get paid what you are owed – the minimum wage for 18-20 year olds is £5.30 an hour. If you are over 21, it’s £6.70.

  • Look after your finances

Regularly review your bank balance so you always know what money is in your account. You’ll be better able to avoid unwanted bank charges for an unauthorised overdraft and spot any fraudulent activity quickly.

  • Make the most of your student loan

If you are taking out a student loan to cover living costs, you will be paid a lump sum at the beginning of each term. When you receive the payment, put it in an instant access savings account which means your loan will earn interest and you will be less tempted to blow it all straight away.

  • Protect your possessions

Get contents insurance for your possessions. This is a must as both halls of residence and student housing tends to be very popular with thieves. (You won’t need buildings insurance as this is the responsibility of your landlord or the university).

Make sure any valuable items, such as computers and bikes are properly covered. Some policies have a “single item” limit (which means that any single item is only covered up to a maximum amount).

Find out more about contents insurance

Sources: www.money.co.uk; www.nus.org.uk/en/advice/money-and-funding/; www.gov.uk/student-finance