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University student

Survive as a student without blowing your budget

University or college is about having a good time and making new friends, right? Well, yes, but hopefully you’ll learn a lot and get a good qualification as well.

However, as you’ll probably end up spending around £4,000 a year on rent , according to the National Union of Students, it makes sense to take care of your cash.

Here are some tips to help you get through uni or college without touching the sides.

Don’t blow your student grant or loan

You may feel loaded when your student grant or loan comes through, but it’ll soon disappear unless you budget.

Work out what you’re likely to spend over a term (or month in Scotland) and divide the total by the number of days you’re away at university or college to give you a daily budget.

Be realistic. For instance, if you reckon you’ll spend more at weekends factor that into your calculations.

Establish what you’re likely to spend each week on meals, other food and drinks, travel, downloads and other likely or essential costs. Also, factor in occasional expenses, like clothes, books, and rail tickets.

With all your expenses taken into account, put your grant or loan into a savings account and set up a regular transfer to your current account every week or month. Try not to dip into the savings in between times.

Review your spending

Don’t forget to review your budget a few weeks after starting as you’re likely to spend more around freshers’ week, and to account for the different length of each semester. Our Cut-back calculator could help if you need to reduce your spending.

Ad hoc spending can quickly eat away at your finances. So, if you’ve given yourself a budget take your daily spending out at a cash point and try to keep to the money you have in your wallet. You will overspend on occasion, but this approach will help you to budget.

Look for ways to save money

Here are some quick ways to save money:

•    Get a student bank account that comes with a good authorised overdraft.
•    Public transport might seem necessary, especially if your digs are some way from your lectures, but you could save plenty by walking or biking instead.
•    Book early for coach or long train journeys, such as going home at the end of term.
•    Look out for sales, take note of special offers, as advertised in local newspapers and online, and use vouchers offered on discount sites.
•    Buy or sign up to student-friendly discount cards and schemes, such as the 16-25 Railcard and the NUS Extra Card

Don't panic - there are options

If you find your money is draining away too quickly, you could consider getting a job. There will be plenty of employers looking for workers to cover shifts in pubs, cafes and shops at the start of the new academic year, although the plumb jobs will be filled quickly, so if you fancy boosting your budget start looking around for work as soon as you can. 

If you really feel worried, check if your unversity or college has a student money adviser (and your parents) before considering something really expensive, like using an unauthorised overdraft or taking out a payday loan.

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  • Mohamed Satti / 12 October 2015

    Great article, this may be useful as I may be going to university next year.