Whether it’s your first year at university or your third, the way you manage your money will have a huge impact on your uni experience.
So, to help you experience the joys the student living without going completely broke, we’ve pulled together these easy to follow student money management tips.
1. Keep track of your spending
Tracking your spending is crucial when it comes to money management. It allows you to understand exactly where your money’s going, forecast for the future while giving yourself with enough to live on day to day.
The great thing is tracking your money isn’t hard to do! Nowadays, there are plenty of apps that can help you keep tabs on your spending - for example, DollerBird and Fudget. Your bank’s app might even offer insights to your spending that can help you track your outgoings.
2. Stick to a monthly budget
The moment your maintenance loan hits your account, it can take all your strength not to go on an ASOS/Amazon blow out. But remember - this money has to last you the whole term. Dividing your loan into monthly or even weekly budgets will allow you to see how much you can spend and what you can realistically afford.
If you’re still tempted to overspend, get your parents to hold the loan and transfer your budget to you every week or month.
3. Avoid credit at all cost
Life happens and sometimes you can’t afford it. That’s when credit cards come in handy. However, for general day to day stuff – listen carefully: AVOID CREDIT CARDS.
If worse comes to worst and you do end up with a balance on your credit card - don’t panic! Just prioritise paying it back ASAP, even if the repayments are small. This is the key to avoiding paying more interest than needed, while also keeping your credit score high.
4. Try and keep an emergency fund
Keeping an emergency fund is crucial. Unforeseen events such as a drowned laptop or a last minute coach fare home can hit you hard if you’re not financially prepared. That’s why most financial experts advise keeping a fund worth between 3 to 6 months of living expenses. However, if this isn’t possible don’t panic – even a small financial cushion will come in handy in an emergency.
5. Use vouchers and discount codes
Everyone loves a good ’ol discount code and these will be your good friends while you’re at uni. Use them wherever possible to save money on the day to day expenses of life. One of the biggest discount codes sites is UniDays, and is completely free to sign up to. It has discounts on everything from restaurants and gyms to bathroom starter kits. In addition, this complete list of student discounts from student crowd should be your new bible. Happy vouchering!
6. Use second hand books and learning materials
It’s not uncommon for a degree course to ask you to spend over £100 on textbooks and reading material every year. While owning your own copies can feel like an obligation, the truth is that the majority of course books and materials can easily be borrowed from the university library, found online or bought second hand.
7. Use comparison sites
Shop smart. Finding good deals will save you lots of money on day-to-day life essentials. Even looking for the cheapest place to buy food on MySupermarket can save you a chunk of money, not to mention other expenses like phone insurance or travel costs. By searching for an item and seeing where the cheapest place to buy it is, you’ll have more pennies for that big night out everybody is planning.
8. Take advantage of all student discounts
Take note: the next time you’ll eligible for these sorts of discounts will be when you’re a pensioner. So, make use of your student card! All you need is proof you’re a student in the form of an NUS card and you can start getting discounts straight away. For just £12 per year you’ll be eligible for any student discount going. Happy shopping!
9. Buy products in bulk
Buying in bulk is a simple and effective way of saving money in the long run. When you buy items in large quantities from places like Costco, individual items in a pack work out cheaper than individual high street buys. The only downside is that it costs £25 to become a member of Costco – but this can be split between flatmates to make the cost fair and more affordable.
Just be aware of things you’ll actually need in bulk so you’re not actually spending unnecessarily. Things like toiletries, noodles, toilet roll and shot glasses are good examples of responsible bulk buys.
10. Plan your meals
The key to financial freedom at uni is planning. Knowing what you’ll be eating every day of the week allows you to plan what to buy. This will help you avoid food and money wastage while also eating more healthily.
11. Join a student gym
Keeping fit at uni is key to having a healthy mind and being ready to study. The best idea is to join a student gym either near to or on campus. Student Central’s Energybase Gym is a great example of a gym designed specifically for students. Combined with the lil’ discount you’ll receive, you’ll be able to keep in shape without breaking the bank!
12. Choose a good bank
Talking of banks - choosing the right one can be a lifesaver when you’re a student. Most student bank accounts will have offer a load of useful extras, from things like an interest free overdraft (for emergencies only!) to a year’s subscription to Amazon Prime.
13. Finally, find free or cheap things to do where you live
There are load of free or super cheap things going on that can help enrich your time at uni without breaking the bank. For example, many art galleries and museums offer free admittance, while pub quizzes, meet ups, university societies and even sports teams provide a great way to meet people and stay active.
You can also take a look at what’s on at Student Central each month. There’s an abundance of things to do – from a range of student societies, regular music concerts and bar nights.
So, tell your mum and dad not to worry. You’ve got this student money budgeting thing down! Just remember to keep a balanced approach to everything and allow yourself to have fun. And don’t splash all your cash all on the vodka and red bull.