From education to employment

Finance expert reveals top budgeting tips for new students

How to manage your money as a new student 

Budget for your new lifestyle

“As tempting as it is to splurge when you start university, make sure you properly budget for all of your new spends. Try to set aside some money for going out and leisure activities whilst factoring in how much you’ll need to spend on university essentials, from bedding to books.”

“Calculate how much student loan you will have coming in each month and how much your essential financial commitments are (e.g. rent, tuition fees etc.) and therefore what you can afford to put away into savings and what your disposable income is. Once you have your budget – stick to it! Post it up somewhere in your accommodation where you will regularly see it or set reminders on your phone to prompt you to check how you are tracking against your budget.”

Cancel those unused, or under utilised, subscriptions before starting

“It’s important to make sure that you cut out all unnecessary outgoing funds before going to university, where money can get tight.”

“One easy way to do this is to check your subscriptions. It’s easy to sign up for a new subscription service – particularly when many companies offer free trial periods or low cost sign up offers – and then forget to cancel it. Or perhaps you have a number of subscriptions that you do use, but you could ask yourself how essential they really are. If you can live without it then you could save money by cancelling the subscription or choosing a cheaper alternative.”

If you’re going to spend, spend smart

“With all of the exciting activities that come with becoming a student, there is the temptation to splurge on everything from event tickets to new clothes. It’s important to always keep your budget in mind when splashing out, but if you’re planning on treating yourself, try using comparison sites that offer savings incentives in order to get your money to go further.”

“There are a number of ways you can save money when you are purchasing online. Firstly there are cashback sites that offer money back in your pocket when you purchase via a special tracked link – it costs you nothing extra, takes just seconds longer, and if you were going to buy the product anyway it’s a no brainer. Secondly there are browser extensions and apps you can use to hunt out bargains. For example, InvisibleHand is a chrome extension that runs in the background of your browser and automatically notifies you if it can find the product you are shopping for at a lower price on another site. Similarly, Honey is an extension that automatically finds and applies discount codes at the checkout when you shop online.”

Food bills

“Save money on your weekly food shop by planning a menu and a shopping list to ensure you only purchase the items you need. Embrace batch cooking and freeze portions to be eaten at a later date – this may help avoid being tempted to use costly food delivery services when you haven’t got anything in for dinner.”

“Consider choosing one of the budget supermarkets such as Aldi or Lidl for the bulk of your shop and downshift from brand name items to own-brand. You will also find that most other students that you live with will be in a similar financial situation, so sharing meals and splitting the cost will benefit everyone!” 

Save on travel to university 

“Most first-year university halls are located conveniently close to lecture theatres and seminars, meaning that walking in every day is a very feasible option. If this is the case for you, try not to give into the temptation of taking public transport, which can often total up to around £50 a month (depending where you are in the country). It may even be worth investing in a bike if timing is an issue, which could save you money in the long run if you often cycle to university throughout your time there.”

Put savings away

“Don’t let the excitement of university stop you from putting money away for a rainy day. Try to put a small amount away as soon as you get your student loan, or try saving a few pounds a week to kick-start your savings pot.”

“Banks such as Monzo have lots of great features in their app to help students save money, and would be worth signing up to before starting. They make it easy to split bills and communal purchases with housemates, and have a feature which rounds up the costs of your purchases and puts the excess into a separate pot to help you save without having to think about it!”

Paul Wilson is a Consumer Finance Expert at Financial Conduct Authority authorised and regulated credit broker Cash Lady.

Paul Wilson – Personal Finance Expert at Cash Lady


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