Managing one’s student finances can be quite a daunting prospect for many, especially if university is the first time you have needed to approach money independently for the first time.
Keeping on top of debt and managing a tight budget is something that never really gets any easier but that very first time is a steep learning curve for the majority of students in the UK.
However, there are ways of making ends meet and ensuring that you get the most out of your university experience from a financial perspective and that is exactly what we are going to cover in the latest student advice piece here at Almero Student Mansions.
Learning some simple money management techniques and getting financial advice before you go to university, will not only make your university life a lot more enjoyable but will teach you some skills you are likely to utilise for the rest of you career and indeed, life.
Having provided student accommodation to students across the country over the years, we’ve had the privilege to speak to thousands of students about how they manage their finances over the years. So read on to learn how we recommend you manage your finances effectively with some top tips to take with you to your place of study.
Learn to Budget Effectively
Making your money last the entirety of each given semester can be difficult, especially with the temptation to go wild once your student loan drops.
It’s important however to determine just how much you are able to afford before you start splashing the cash. Do this first and you will know exactly how much you can use on those new sneakers or some well-deserved nights out with your friends.
Budgeting is usually the first tip anyone will give a student when it comes to managing their finances. Although advice on how to work out income is rarely offered though.
Prospective or current students should work out their expected income versus their expected outgoings in order to work out a budget with what is left over. This may well depend on any employment you may have arranged and your rent instalments.
We recommend that you add together any student loan and grant that you will receive, along with any wages you might get from a part time job and any money you might get from parents or other sources. This will then represent your net income and allow you to start budgeting accordingly.
If you’re worried about setting a budget, UCAS offers excellent financial advice and have an easy-to-use budget calculator which helps to work everything out for you. If your circumstances ever change you can always refer back to this to see what your new budget level has become.
Choose The Right Bank Account
Choosing the right bank account is paramount to ensuring that you are managing your finances effectively.
Often, banks will compete with each other to get your attention by offering big student overdrafts or free gifts, but it’s important to think long term and what is going to be best for you throughout your university life. Don’t be wowed by the promise of free phone insurance, if you rate of interest is not prudent.
It’s likely that you already have a bank account before you start your university course and in the most part banks will offer a student account to existing customers. That doesn’t mean however that you can’t shop around to make sure that you are getting the right deal.
Freebies might well be tempting but our top factors to look out for when choosing your student bank account is one with the biggest interest-free overdraft, and one that will remain interest-free for the longest once you graduate. You will have to pay it back eventually, so it won’t harm to think a few years ahead and ensure you don’t spend your twenties paying back extortionate overdrafts.
Check what services the banks can offer and what support they can provide for various financial situations, this might come in useful should you find yourself in trouble. You could even set up some meetings with the bank managers of the ones you have chosen to get a feel for what is your best choice.
Take Advantage of Student Discounts
One of the many advantages of being a student is of course being able to take advantage of student discounts. Saving money on things you need during your course will help bring your outgoings down and allow you to spend more on the fun things in life.
The NUS Extra Card is one of the most popular student cards out there and can offer savings of up to £525 a year for the small cost of £12. The card offers student discount across a wide range of retailers such as ASOS and Co-Op as well as the likes of Odeon and National Express.
Likewise, the Unidays website provides students with information on the top discounts across the web, all for free. So, whether you want a discount off your next outfit or money off a meal with your housemates, Unidays can help at the click of a button.
Balance Work and Play
Being able to manage your student finance doesn’t mean that you have to give up on the social aspect of university. It’s all about focusing on enjoying things outside of the lecture room for a bit less.
Looking for student discounts is a great way of saving money but getting yourself a part-time job might be the perfect way for you to bring in some extra income to put towards going out with friends. This will help towards setting the budget we recommended earlier.
UCAS tells students that most universities recommend working less than 15 hours a week to ensure work can be scheduled around your timetable. A part-time job can be just as fun as it is rewarding and plus it will help to boost your CV as well as your bank balance for when you come to find a graduate job. Remember quite crucially though, not to work at the expense of study as your degree qualification is the most important thing!
That concludes our top tips on managing your finances at university, we really hope you find them useful. Managing a budget, choosing the right bank balance and taking advantage of student discounts might be our best advice for financial planning, but if you have any more tips on how to make the most of your university finances, we would love to hear them.
As always, we are committed to bringing you the very best in advice on all aspects of your student experience. If you want to check out more guides just like this one, click here to see them all and let us know if there is anything you’d like us to cover on the Almero Blog.