As university fees, living expenses and other costs continue to rise, learning to effectively manage and budget your money as a student is more important than ever. This is especially true if you’re studying in the UK, where tuition fees can be as high as £9,250 per year for an undergraduate course.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to cut costs and stay on top of your finances while attending college in the UK. With discipline and planning, you can achieve financial stability and develop sound money management habits that will benefit you far beyond your student days.
Understand Your Budget and Track Your Spending
The foundation of any good financial plan is understanding your budget and keeping close track of your spending. Estimate your monthly living expenses, such as rent, tuition, and groceries, and determine how much money you have left over to spend on leisure activities and other expenses.
Keeping a close record of your spending is also essential. Allot yourself a daily or weekly budget and create a detailed ledger of your purchases. This will help you stay on budget and spot any potential spending leaks. You can also use an app like Emma, which specializes in helping students better manage their money.
Get the Most out of Student Discounts
Many companies in the UK offer special student discounts or loyalty programs. Take advantage of these offers when you can to get the most out of your money. Look out for discounts on travel, clothing, restaurants, and entertainment. Additionally, make sure to research any educational discounts that may apply to your course.
Keep track of discount events and promotions, and ask store associates if they offer any student deals. A quick search online can often bring up more discounts that you didn’t know about.
Earn a Side Income
If money is tight, consider getting a part-time job or working a freelance gig on the side. Online opportunities such as tutoring or customer service positions are especially helpful for students, as they allow you to work remotely and more easily fit into a busy school schedule.
Having an extra source of income can help you cover any unexpected expenses or boost your savings. But it’s important to make sure that working doesn’t interfere with your studies. Make sure you only take on work that won’t negatively impact your academic performance.
Live Within Your Means
This point might seem obvious, but it’s important to keep in mind. Don’t succumb to peer pressure or buy things you can’t afford. Avoid taking on too much credit card or student loan debt and find creative ways to have fun that don’t cost a lot of money.
It may also be worthwhile to buy second-hand textbooks and other academic materials. Online stores like Amazon and eBay often offer good deals on used university textbooks.
Prioritize Your Savings
Though it might seem difficult when money is tight, make an effort to save as much as you can. Keep a portion of your income in a savings account and consider opening an ISA or other long-term savings options. Creating a budgeting plan and sticking to it can help you sneak in more savings.
Additionally, make sure to take full advantage of any tax relief options available, such as student loan repayment incentives—or even a tax refund.
Reap the Benefits of Technology
There are numerous free apps and websites available to help you stay on top of your finances. Try setting up an account with MyBudget or another budgeting platform to easily track, monitor, and manage all aspects of your finances.
You may also want to consider opening a budgeting account with a bank such as Monzo, which helps students save money and keep track of their expenses.
Reach Out for Help
If you’re struggling to make ends meet and overwhelmed by your finances, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. The Student Advice Service at your university can provide resources and assistance. Additionally, some universities offer free financial counseling and workshops on budgeting and money management.
Finally, remember that managing your finances while in university doesn't have to be overwhelming. With the right tools and strategies, you can stay on track and enjoy the student experience without getting too deep into debt.