Going to university? 10 top tips for managing your finances

Going to university or college will probably be the first time you’ve had to manage your own living costs.

On average the maintenance loan is just £540 a month so many students rely on additional funds from parents, a part-time job or a savings account.

Whatever funds you have available to you, we share our best financial strategies to help you get the most from university life without running into difficulties.

  1. Write a budget

Work out your monthly income including student finance, money from parents or a part-time job and any savings you are planning to use.

Next calculate all your essential monthly outgoings – rent, utility bills, phone bills, transport costs, food, course materials etc. You may need your parent’s help to do this in the beginning and there will probably be some guessing.

Then work out how much money is left for non-essentials such as nights out, gym membership, new clothes or any of the usual things you spend money on.

Make sure you give yourself a bit of a buffer. Don’t budget down to the very last pound. Remember unexpected expenses are likely to occur such as repair to a phone or an extra trip home. There are student budgeting calculators you can use to help you calculate a budget.

2. Make sure you aren’t missing out on money

You may be entitled to a grant or bursary you didn’t know about – check the UCAS guide to student finance in England.

3. Have two separate bank accounts

The best way to stick to a budget is to have two separate accounts. You might have a current account and a savings account – consider opening a student bank account (see below).

When you receive your student finance and any other income place it in one account. Have a separate account for your weekly expenses. Transfer money each week by direct debit from your income account to your weekly account.

4. Pay for essentials straightaway

Make sure direct debits for rent, utilities etc. come out of your account at the very start of the term or month.

5. Plan your meals

Before you go out shopping for food plan your meals (Monday – lasagne, Tuesday – chili con carni etc) as this is the best way to make sure you don’t overspend. Never go shopping on an empty stomach.

If you have freezer space it’s cheaper to cook big meals and separate them into dated containers. Read 24 supermarket saving tips for more advice.

6. Resist sales and non-essentials

A bargain is only a bargain if you really need it so avoid Black Friday. Remember that takeaways, gig tickets, new shoes etc. are non-essential expenses. If you pay now with an overdraft, that’s less money you will have next week.

Never impulse buy – sleep on purchase decisions – you may feel differently in the morning.

7. Keep track of your spending

Check your online bank account weekly or use your bank’s mobile app to manage your finances. You can set up alerts to tell you when your balance drops below a certain amount.

8. Be aware of student bank account benefits

Student bank accounts offer all sorts of extras such as free travelcards and discounted cinema tickets. Before you open an account consider which benefits are most financially worthwhile to you.

9. Remember student discounts

When you go out to a museum, theatre, clothes shop, cinema or restaurant you may be able to save money if you take student identification with you as many places offer student discounts. It’s always worth asking if you’re not sure.

10. If you find yourself in financial trouble seek help

Speak to your university or college’s student welfare service as soon as you find yourself struggling. They can give you tailored, confidential advice about any emergency funding available. They can also put you in touch with job services if you need them.

Never be afraid to ask for help. Whatever the situation you find yourself in they will have seen it before and they are there to help.

TutorMyKids would like to say…

We are incredibly proud of all our GCSE and A level students in what has been a strange and challenging year. For those about to leave home for the very first time, we wish you a happy and successful future!