No matter your background, it can be difficult to understand your finances at university. With loans and maintenance grants all landing in one lump sum at the beginning of a term, it’s essential that you have a plan to keep track of your money. Read on to find out our 5 top tips for managing your money at university.
Set a budget and stick to it
It might seem obvious, but one of the easiest ways to understand your finances is to set a budget and follow it. You can use things like the UCAS budget calculator to help with this.
Your budget doesn’t have to be complicated. All you’ll need is a list of all of your incomes and outgoings, divided up into monthly instalments. This can be tricky as your maintenance loan will come in at the start of every term, but you can just divide it by the number of months in the term.
Once you’ve set your budget, it’s important to try to stick to it. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever treat yourself, but you need to understand your finances so that you don’t get into trouble later!
Save lump sums
As a student, you’ll often find that you’re getting money in lump sums. Whether it’s your maintenance loan, money from your parents, or other sources of income, you may find that you’re getting money to last you for a whole term in one go.
One easy way that you can earn a little bit of extra money is to place some of this money that you’re not immediately using into a savings account. Try and find one with a high interest rate, or you can use accounts with even better rates of returns like ISAs.
Investigate grants and studentships
Many universities have pots of money that you can use to augment your student loans or other income sources. These grants or studentships are available to many students for lots of different reasons.
Some of these grants may be targeted at underrepresented groups, while others are for those who have achieved academic success. You’ll often be automatically entered into competition for these awards if you accept an offer at that institution, but in some cases you will not be – so it’s important to do your research.
Many shops and other places offer student discounts. Take advantage of these as much as you can, as they can offer significant savings. Some shops will offer the discount if you show your student card, whereas others will ask to see an NUS card.
As a student, you’re entitled to a number of different discount cards. For example, you can purchase an NUS card for £11 a year, which gives you access to a huge range of guaranteed discounts. A student railcard is also a great investment, offering you discounts on rail fare – great if you’re travelling back home.
Save on your bills
Once you’re out of halls, you’ll usually rent privately as a student and pay bills. While your rent might be fixed, you can save money on your bills. Use comparison sites to find the best deals on your utilities. Don’t just keep the supplier that’s already in place at the property, as these are often more expensive.
Students don’t have to pay council tax, either. If you’re living in a house that’s just students, you can simply inform the council of this when you receive your first council tax bill.
Use these tips to save yourself money at university. If you’re still figuring out which university or course to go, try Centigrade. It’s an easy way to carry out your university research, offering you recommended courses based on your interests.