How to manage your money at University!
Money saving tips from Loans 2 Go…
So your A-level results are in and you have gained the Uni place of your dreams. Congratulations! You’re probably now busy checking out all the social media channels and maybe starting to make new friends already. Also planning to shop for everything you need to buy to set up your room just the way you want it to be.
But before you go any further let’s just talk about money. Once you get your student loan this is likely to be the first time you have a decent sum of money in your bank account. The temptation is to start spending it all straight away but don’t do that! Your loan will be paid in three instalments – each of which needs to last a whole term. So resist the urge to splurge!
It is really important to establish good financial habits right from the start. Many people find that the way they handle money whilst at Uni becomes their lifelong way of doing it. And many people are hopeless with money. So get off to a good start now and it should help you manage your money well for the rest of your life.
But what do you need to do? Here are five important and money saving principles for you as you get ready to head off to Uni.
1. Choose a good bank account
There are so many student bank accounts around that it can be difficult to choose, particularly when they offer a range of incentives to lure you in. But you need to look beyond these. It’s really important to check the terms and conditions to make sure you understand what you are getting into and any requirements that you may need to fulfil.
Also, whilst it’s great to have an interest-free overdraft for emergencies, remember that this is a form of debt and needs to be used wisely. Also remember that it will need to be paid off at some future stage – and the last thing you want when you start a job in the future is a huge overdraft.
To compare different accounts, take a look at the Which? list of the best student bank accounts as voted for by undergrads.
2. Buy second hand
When going off to Uni it’s tempting to buy everything new, from items for your room, second-hand university books and equipment for your course, and new clothes to reflect the new Uni you. But you can save money by buying goods second-hand where possible.
As additional impetus to this, Oxfam are currently running an initiative called Second Hand September that encourages people to pledge to say no to new clothes for 30 days. Their aim is to highlight the amount of clothing that ends up in landfills. So if you decide you need a new wardrobe for Uni then you could also become a trendsetter by buying everything second hand.
3. Create a budget – and stick to it!
Each term your student loan will need to last you for the whole of that term. So it’s important to make it last. You need to set aside money for all the essentials, for example:
- tuition fees
- bills, eg phone, internet, insurance, TV licence, water, gas, electricity
- credit card repayments
- food and toiletries
If your income is not enough to cover all the above, then you will need to find ways of increasing this. As well as looking for a job (see below), investigate whether you are eligible for any other source of income such as such as scholarships, bursaries, fee waivers and hardship funds.
Also make sure that you are spending money carefully. Make the most of student discounts and railcards, and be aware of the items that students do not have to pay for, for example Council Tax and medical prescriptions (prescriptions are free to all residents of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales; in England if you are 19 you can apply to the NHS Low Income Scheme. The same applies to dental treatment and eye tests.)
Always try to find ways of spending less. For example, group together with other students to buy and cook food, and only take cash for a night out, to limit your spending.
4. Get a job
If the demands of your course permit, it’s a really good idea to get a part time job whilst at Uni. As well as bringing in some much-needed extra income, it also gains you valuable work experience and looks good on a CV.
If possible, why not visit the town or city where you will be going to start sounding out possible job opportunities, before the rush starts? Although you may not yet be able to finalise days and times you are available, it would be good to get to the front of the queue. Try asking at pubs, restaurants and shops. You could also pursue some kind of freelance working, for example tutoring or babysitting.
5. Have savings and insurance
Last but by no means least, make sure you have some kind of financial buffer for when things go wrong. Insurance is important: it can be tempting not to bother, because payments can seem to be expensive. But imagine the cost if something was lost or stolen, such as your computer or phone or bike. So it’s worth paying insurance just in case you need it.
Also try to start saving. This is a really important financial habit that the earlier you start, the better. Why not treat savings just like another bill? Set up a separate account, put some of your student loan in there straight away, and try not to touch it. Top it up whenever you can, whether from earnings or family gifts, or by selling stuff on eBay etc. Every little helps, and when you are faced with either an emergency or a fantastic opportunity to travel or do something else special, you will have the money for that situation.
So good luck as you head off to Uni! We hope that you have a fabulous time and that it is the start of an exciting new life for you. And we hope that our money saving tips help you to establish good financial habits that will last you for the rest of that life.
Check back here soon for more lifestyle and money saving tips from Loans 2 Go.