Student Finance

student finances

Going to university can be a fantastic experience in so many different ways. New people, experiences and much new knowledge as you complete your studies. The finance part can be a little daunting when you haven’t had to manage your money before in the same way. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some tips for managing your student finances! 

Maintenance loan 

You won’t need to worry about your tuition fee loan because this will go straight to your university without you having to lift a finger! Your maintenance loan is a loan that you are paid to cover your living costs and help you to make ends meet during your course.

These loans are based on your household income. So with a lower household income, you will qualify for more support. If your household income is higher, you will be expected to make up the difference that you will need to fund all your expenses. The extra money could be achieved via your parents, savings or you own part-time income. 

  Once you get your maintenance loan approved, you’ ll need to know how to manage it. The most important thing to do is to budget properly and stick to it. Write a record of all your expenses from your rent to your bills, an approximation of groceries and materials you will need to buy for uni. (Don’t forget to factor in your leisure fund for some nights out!)

Once you know how much you need to spend on everything per month, you can track this against your maintenance loan payments and ensure that you don’t overspend. It’s good to keep a record or spreadsheet of your budget, but if that idea makes you yawn- why not try a budgeting app?

There are plenty of great budgeting apps out there right now, which can help you to manage your finances in a tech-savvy way! 

Budgeting apps 

One great budgeting app out there right now is ‘Mint’. The app can be synced straight to your account and update your spending on the go. You can use mint to create all the budgets you could dream of from rent to food and even more niche ones like beer or clothes! There is a top feature on mint which allows you to track credit cards against the money you have to pay them back (an excellent feature if you’ve got your first student credit card)! 

 PocketGuard is another excellent app that helps you to stop overspending. This one links to all your accounts and allows you to compare your spending with your budget. Put all your expenses and bills into PocketGuard, and it will work its magic! There is also a helpful feature which allows you to analyse your monthly bills, be this the internet or your TV. PocketGuard helps you to see if you can find a better deal on these costs elsewhere. You can end up reducing your spending this way (yes please)! 

Student grants 

Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for other means of financial support in the way of grants or bursaries. These options will again depend on your financial circumstances. You may have been awarded a bursary if you are from a low-income household or have children to look after.

When you are applying for your student finance, it’s worth looking into anything extra that you can apply for, even if you’re unsure if you qualify. When you are at university and trying to manage your studies and money, you’ll be happy with any extra pennies you can get!

If you do get a grant, it’s best to put this straight into your budget for your living costs as opposed to seeing it as some extra cash to splurge with. Remember, you got this money for a reason, so it’s best to keep it for that reason! 

Student credit cards

Student credit cards are sometimes considered a no-go area because it’s just another debt to pay back. However, if you use a credit card to your advantage, you can both help yourself out financially and build a good credit ranking.

The key is to understand the interest rates because if you can master this, you will be less likely to overspend. When you are searching for a credit card, you should pay close attention to the APR, the credit limit and any late fees. Having a good understanding of all of these things will allow you to stay on track.

You will want to try as much as you can to pay the balance off in full each month to avoid any interest or charges. You can put your credit card into your budgeting app to help you to do so. 

Student bank accounts

 To apply for a student bank account, if you don’t already have one, you will need to take with you some proof of address, proof of being a student and a form of photo ID.

You can have a shop around online and look to sources like this to see which student bank account might have the best perks and be the right fit for you. It’s a good idea to get an account with an overdraft because then if you run out of the money you will have some backup funds to help you out. Most student accounts will not charge you interest on your overdraft.

Having said this, it’s better to use your overdraft as a backup as opposed to relying on. If you spend a huge overdraft and never pay it back, once you graduate the interest will start being charged at some point!

Part time jobs 

If you want to keep on top of your finances at university, you could consider getting a part-time job. While you won’t want to take on too much that puts a strain on your studies, a few hours a week might be something that you could manage.

Even a little extra cash a week could make a world of difference. Once you get your schedule and figure out your hours in uni and workload, you could try and look for something that could fit around your lifestyle. Try it for a while, and if the workload becomes too much, you can always leave the job by giving enough notice.

You could end up saving a little bit of money this way if you can be sensible with your finances. 

Shopping lists 

When you first become a student, it can sometimes be a little difficult not to overspend. If you write a shopping list of exactly what you need before you get to the supermarket, this will make it much easier for you to stick yo your budget and not waste anything.

You may have had a favourite supermarket when you lived back home, but now that you’re paying the bills, why not check out a budget supermarket? There are plenty of great offers at places like Aldi and Lidl where you can get lots of fresh produce at a reduced price to a more ‘upmarket’ store.

You can make small savings every day but purchasing the essentials as opposed to splurging on lots of items that you didn’t really need! 

Parental contribution 

If you are from a higher-income household, it likely that your parents may be contributing to your university expenses. Again, you should factor this into your normal budget as opposed to spending it on leisure items.

Sometimes, it’s not always so easy to stay on top of your finances, but with a little trial and error, you will find some good habits! If you get into an emergency situation, don’t be afraid to reach out to your friends and family for help. Sometimes we all need a bit of extra help, and you can always pay people back when you can. 

Phone & wifi costs  

Mobile phones can be a significant expense, so it’s a good idea to have a shop around before you sign up to an expensive contract. Consider opting for an older model; you’ll still be able to get something high quality at a reduced price.

If you buy an old phone with no contract, you could opt for a sim only deal which will save you money. If your wifi isn’t included in your accommodation, then you will want to ensure that you check out all the options and find the best price you can. Sometimes it’s tempting to go for the first option you see, but this may not be the best one to save you money! 

It’s not always easy to manage your money, so don’t stress if you get it wrong and blow the budget once in a while. Once you get into good practices with your finances, the whole thing will become second nature. Remember, you can use the summer holidays to work full-time if you wish when uni is out! Doing so could give you a real boost with your money when you return for the next year in September. 

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