It’s been a few years since I went to University and I can’t believe that my oldest daughter is almost at the age where we will have to start planning which University she would like to attend. Once the formalities of choosing the campus and of course getting the right grades are out of the way, the next step is to carefully plan how to stretch the finances and make sure that the transition from living at home to living at University is as smooth as possible. Take a look at these top tips for effective student budgeting.
Get An NUS Extra Card
The first thing to organise once you know you are heading to University is to apply for an NUS Extra card, I had one when I was studying and now they are even more useful. You can get discounts and savings from over 3,200 different stores and the card itself only costs £12.00 and you can use it to get discounts both online and in-store. You have 12 months to use the card and you can renew after each year while you are studying. It’s worth investing the £12.00 if you are going to shop in the participating shops from Superdrug, Odeon Cinemas to ASOS and McDonalds (and many more) for up to 50% savings in some cases.
Stick To A Budget
It’s important to set a budget each month and stick to it otherwise you may find you can run out of funds without even realising it. Take into account your income, student loan, any grant you receive and any money from your parents and ensure you don’t exceed this amount every month. It’s a good habit to get into and will help you get to grips with budgeting and being more aware of your finances, and to know that once you have reached your limit from all the money coming in, never spend any more unless it is an emergency.
Set-Up Bank Accounts & Overdrafts
Once you are at University and have to manage your own finances it’s important to set up a bank account and arrange an overdraft facility for emergencies only. It’s a good idea to find a bank that won’t charge you for having an overdraft
many have a limit before they start charging interest but it’s worth talking to your bank to find out what the interest rates are and your limits.
Once you have regular money coming into your bank account from your income (student loans, grants and any money from parents) banks are more likely to want your business and discuss your lending needs. Take into account that any time you apply for credit including an overdraft you will be credit scored, also don’t go over your agreed overdraft amount as the charges are often high.
Manage your banking online so you can keep a good eye on what’s coming in and going out and if you find you are struggling to stay within your overdraft make an appointment to see your bank as they can take a look at your individual circumstances to see if they could either increase your overdraft i limit or offer you a short term student credit card to bridge the gap.
Books – Buying New Or Borrowing?
Once you have chosen your subjects you will have plenty of books to buy so instead of buying all the required books why not source them from your local library to save some money. You could alternatively find the books you need secondhand in bookshops or from Amazon and eBay where you can save a considerable amount of money on essential student literature.
Save With A Railcard
If you are planning on using the train to go home a lot it’s well worth investing in a 16-25 Railcard as you can save a third of the cost of your rail tickets for a £30 a year fee or £70 for three years. If you have also bought an NUS Extra card you will get 12% off the price of the card and some bank accounts offer the 16-25 Railcard as a freebie for signing up to a student account with them so it’s worth shopping about to see which bank can offer the deal that is right for you.
Find Grants, Scholarships and Bursaries
Even if your course is part time you may be eligible for a grant to help you financially through your studies, it does depend on your financial circumstances and each case is looked at individually but it is worth checking to see if you are eligible. You may also be eligible for a scholarship grant or bursary based on your location, religion and in most cases your parents finances.
These are just a few budgeting tips that I found helpful when I went to University and some I will be using when my daughter goes off to study too, if you have any other tips or ideas I would love to hear them.
For more tips and ideas on how to save money as a student head to the Savvy Student Guide that TSB have put together to help students.
Thank you for reading, I hope you have enjoyed reading about my Tips For Student Budgeting. If you liked what you read today, subscribe to my blog by adding your email address to the box on the right, you will be the first to hear of all my updates.