How to manage your money
It can be expensive to be a student. Use these pages as a guide to help reduce your financial worries at university.
- Looking at your personal situation and draw up an annual expenditure list
- Looking at what your minimum income for the year when you have your financial support in place
- Balance the two, work out what your budget should be and refer to it throughout the year to keep on track.
Sticking to a budget can be difficult, but it should help you to not overspend. It will also indicate how much the following years at university might cost you.
On top of student funding, there are other possible sources of income to help with your living costs.
Taking a gap year could help you earn extra money. Many students take a year out before starting university to gain money as well as experience.
Make sure you question your motives before embarking on a gap year. If money is an issue, consider how a gap year could boost your bank balance ahead of being a student. Read more about gap years.
There are plenty of opportunities for students to work during their studies. Income from working part-time should not affect your entitlement to loans and bursaries. Read more about student jobs.
Most universities have a student employment office that can help you find part-time work. Our university profiles also provide information.
Many universities also offer sandwich courses. This involves a placement year or industry programme integrated into your course. These can be great experience and good for graduate employability. Many include a salary.
Outside of term time there are opportunities to earn cash and develop skills for your CV. Several organisations offer placements or internships that can be sponsored and only last for a few weeks.
Banks are keen to help out students, because they are likely to bring in money in the future. They are sympathetic and can permit modest overdrafts to ease money problems. Make sure to be careful when weighing up different the offers available. Check out advice on sites such as MoneySavingExpert.com.
There are several different costs students have to face every day. It is important to think about what you spend. Students can underestimate their expenditure by as much as 50%.
This is the biggest expenditure. Living costs include accommodation, food, and travel. We suggest:
- Try not to be tempted by offers such as 'two for the price of one,' especially when you didn't want one in the first place
- Use local markets for groceries, charity shops for clothes, and students' unions for stationary
- If living with others, share essentials and buy in bulk if possible
- Take time to look at different options, as there may be something cheaper available.
These are costs associated with your degree such as books, equipment, or certain fieldwork or electives. They can often be compulsory. You may be able to receive extra financial support for study costs.
For most students, there is a recommended reading list. Get to know the library at your university, and look for second-hand book sales from your students' union or online bookshops. Sometimes fellow students are willing to share!
University isn't all about work. You will have other interests you may wish to pursue that come at a cost. Your students' union should offer a selection of shops, places to eat and drink and other services at minimal expense.
The social scene – whether it be the cinema, nightclub, eating or drinking out – can be a significant cost. Keep an eye out for student discounts and offers.
Phone bills can also be a sizeable item. Make sure to weigh up the options to find the best package available as a student.
You should have insurance for expensive possessions such as TVs, laptops, mobile phones and bikes. Read more tips on how to stay safe at university.
It is a good idea to estimate your annual budget. Do this by listing all your expected income. Include any savings you may take with you to university. See how this compares with your anticipated expenditure.
- Don't be too optimistic in your first budget
- Start by identifying bills that you must pay, and include this in a small contingency fund
- Be aware of what you do spend. Try writing down everything you spend over a week or so
- Budget for big events on the university's social calendar, friends' birthdays, and travelling back home
- Consider having two bank accounts – one for essentials, the other for non-essentials
- Keep holidays in mind as you may want to budget more for these
- There are budgeting apps you can download for free. These can help with day-to-day spending, and saving.
Remember to keep track of your finances so money worries do not detract from your studying and enjoyment of university life! Take a look at our sample budget.
Next page: Budgeting