Top ten budgeting tips

University is probably the first experience you will have of managing your own money...

You might not even know where to start when your first lump sum of student funding arrives in your bank account, but managing your finances correctly is essential. Otherwise, you might find that you have spent your whole term’s income on Freshers’ Week and have nothing left to pay your rent.

Here are the top 10 budgeting tips from our current students:

  1. Interest-free overdraft. Shop around for a student bank account which has an interest-free overdraft. Make sure you don’t spend over your limit and be aware that you shouldn’t consider the overdraft as income, it is more a solution to short-term cash-flow issues.
  2. Separate accounts. As loans and grants are allocated in large lump sums, create a separate account just for your direct debit commitments like rent and bills. This way you know how much you have left to spend for the rest of the term and can’t accidently spend your rent money!
  3. Keep track of your finances. Once you have separated your direct debit expenses you will be able to see how much you have left to spend per term. Divide this up so you know how much you have to spend each week. Knowing your income will help you to see whether your outgoings match, and if they don’t then you can think of ways of reducing them.
  4. No credit cards. Don’t get credit or store cards! They charge high interest rates and if you fall behind with payments you will get a bad credit history which could adversely affect your financial situation in later life.
  5. Part-time and summer jobs. Supplement your student loan with income from paid work. Either work part-time during the term or get a full-time job during the long university summers.
  6. Discounts. Look out for deals, offers and discounts. Sign up for an NUS Extra Card to get discounts at your favourite shops. Use student discount websites such as Student Beans.
  7. Local knowledge. Ask locals where the cheapest places to shop are. If there is a market, go at the end of the day for cheap deals on food.
  8. Make your own sandwiches. Buying lunch on campus or in town can add up. Make your own sandwiches and make a saving every day.
  9. Second hand books. Getting all the books on your reading list can be expensive. Buy used textbooks to reduce the cost of your reading list significantly and then sell them off again when you have finished with them.
  10. Get help. You don’t have to do it alone. Student advisers are available at most universities to provide you with advice on funding and budgeting. Your university bank branch will also be able to provide you with free advice on student banking, overdraft interest rates and charges.

Just remember: if you manage your money correctly, you can stretch your student budget and have plenty of money available for your social life!