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What is the secret of good student money management?

Are you currently a student at university or college or about to graduate? Keeping control of your money can be daunting, so it’s important to keep tabs so you don’t end up running out of money.

In honour of National Student Money Week here are our top three student money tips, including one everyone should try to follow.

1. Budget, budget, budget

Budgeting is key to keeping your financial situation healthy and is easier than it sounds.

A budget is based on the money you have coming in – your income, and the money you have going out – your expenditure.

You may have income to help with your living costs from student grants and loans, contributions from your family and also a part-time job. To make a weekly budget you should try to work out how much income you will have coming in at the start of each term (or month in Scotland).

Once you know your income and how much you have to spend each week you can begin to look at what is essential expenditure – such as paying for accommodation and bills – and what discretionary spending you can cut back on if money is getting a bit tight, e.g. socialising with friends or splashing out too much on takeaways or branded food.  

The costs of living in student areas can be high. So if despite your best efforts to cut back you need to borrow more money to keep on top of your bills, you could check with your bank whether you can extend your interest-free overdraft while you complete your studies.

But only ever borrow what you need to help you get your budget back on track –and don’t be tempted to borrow more money just because it’s available to you. Remember: an overdraft or other forms of credit are not free money!

2. Research some discounts

As a student, you could qualify for discounts, and these could easily add up.  

  • Rail travel – a 16-25 Railcard in England, Scotland and Wales offers valuable savings. You should also check with your university, college or local bus company as many areas offer travel discounts for students, and
  • Shopping – with the National Union of Students (NUS) card. It provides discounts at lots of places, including high-street stores for books, clothes, food and entertainment. But don’t buy discounted stuff just for the sake of it if you have priority bills to pay!

3. In money trouble? Talk about it

It can be easy to feel pressurised to spend money at university. If you feel your spending is getting on top of you, your university or college is likely to have a student money adviser who can help you budget and manage your income.

If making sensible cutbacks to meet your repayments isn’t helping, getting free debt advice should be your next step. There are lots of free, confidential services that can help. Check where you can access free debt advice.

Don’t ignore your debts if you can no longer pay your bills on time as it could affect your credit record for years to come. If you are in real financial difficulty then seek help immediately.

For National Student Money Week, NASMA are also hosting daily web chats at 1pm throughout the week on specific issues on behalf of Student Finance England, in The Student Room.

Are you a student?How expensive is your student area? What do you do to try and budget?

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