Starting university can be a difficult transition for everyone, whether you’re moving across the country, staying local or even living at home. Having a large amount of responsibilities sprung on you at once can be difficult to manage, especially when it comes to finance. A lot of students have never had to deal with such a large sum of money at once, and spreading the cost amongst things such as rent, it can be difficult to manage.
The majority of students receive student finance to enable them to progress into, and through university. Understanding your student finance, when your payments are, and how much you’ll receive is important.
You need to apply for your student finance every year, it won’t be automatically done for you just because you applied before starting University. If you apply too late, your tuition and maintenance loan payments may be delayed. I believe the deadline date usually lies around May!
Maintenance loans will be paid three times during the academic year, usually once in September, January and then April. The amounts for each installment will alter based on the amount of time they need to cover, so ensure you know what you’re going to receive, and when, so that you can work out a budget from that.
Income differs from student to student, as it does in the working world. Some have support from family, some work part-time during their degrees and some purely rely on their student loans.
Add up all forms of your expected income, so you understand the total amount of income you’re expecting. Include all forms of it: maintenance loans, money from parents or family, grants, scholarships, part-time work, etc.
Estimating your outgoings is a must in order to work out your budget for the week or month. Make a list of all of the essential things that will be coming out of your bank account, and the dates. Essential things include: rent, bills, food, transport, course materials. Note down the non-essential things too, such as any night outs, hobbies, and memberships.
By doing this you can then take away the total amount of essential outgoings from your total income. This is the amount of money you will have left to spend on non-essential things. Divide this number by the amount of weeks that income needs last you, and that will give you your weekly budget.
I stressed so much about finding a student bank. I had only worked part-time for two years during A-Levels, and earned a small amount that went into the bank account I have had for as long as I can remember. I had no idea what half of the information meant when it came to choosing a student bank account.
Some of the incentives can be tempting, such as a £100 gift card or free Amazon prime membership. It’s important to do your research, find out information such as the terms and conditions of that student bank. How much money needs to be going into it, and how often. Find out how much overdraft you’re provided with, and whether interest is charged on this or not. You don’t need to rush into choosing a student bank account, but you will need one set up ready for your student finance payments to go into it.
I personally went with Santander, it enables me to have a £1500 interest free overdraft, and also allowed me to claim a free rail card. This is perfect if you’re someone who wants to go home every weekend and avoid the steep train fares.
You can find some more information about the break down of student banks on this website: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/students/student-bank-account/
It can be hard to save as a student, but my advice would be that if you have any money left over from your weekly budget, transfer it straight into savings. You never know when you’ll need a little extra cash, and it’s nice to have some sort of security net there if you need it.
Everyone has their preference when it comes to supermarkets, but as a student it really is important to shop as wisely as you can. Aldi and Lidl are usually situated right in the centre of student life, and most of the time there will always be one near your student accommodation. In Cardiff we have a Lidl a 5 minute walk away from the campus!
Choose somewhere to shop where you know you can get the most for your money, that’s why so many people like Aldi and Lidl. Set a budget for how much you aim to spend on food each week, talk to your flat mates and see if they eat similar meals, and if they do then try to do a big shop and split the costs!
Most retailers also offer student discount, with the co-op even offering students 10% off. Sign up to student discount websites such as UniDays and Student Beans, so you can get an extra 10% or 20% off any purchases.
Plan what is going to be happening with your money, and when. Having a visual representation of all of your incomings and outgoings will make life so much easier for you.
Create a spreadsheet in excel, or even download budgeting apps like Yolt on your phone.
Be as realistic as possible with your money. It’s going to be hard, but you need to prioritise what you can and cannot afford. Your rent and bills need to be your number one priority, even if that involves you cutting out something like a night out a week.
Don’t stretch yourself too far with your money, and don’t be scared to say no to people. Ensure you’re splitting any shared costs with your flat mates or friends.
Finances can be a hard topic for everyone of any age to talk about, making a lot of people feel uncomfortable. It’s time to break that down and be more open about our situations. I don’t mean telling everyone in the world how much you earn, or have to your name. I mean not being afraid to ask for help when you need it.
There are so many services and support networks out there to help people deal with their finances, especially students. Universities will have student support available to help with any issues surrounding money, so if you need them make use of them, it’s what they’re there for.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends, family or even personal tutors in university if you’re struggling.
I hope you guys will take these budgeting tips on board, and I hope they help!