Some Useful Tips
Most students have to manage on a low income, so planning a budget early should help avoid running out of money and getting into financial difficulty. You may find this budget planner helpful and budget information leaflet.
Maximising Your Income
The first thing to do is to make sure you are receiving the funding that you are entitled to. For more information see www.direct.gov.uk/studentfinance. Remember: The online student finance calculator can help you calculate the financial support you might be entitled to.
Depending on your credit rating you may be entitled to a student bank account with an overdraft facility, shop around to find the best offer.
Most students can supplement their income through part-time employment. Check that you are paying the right amount of tax for the job you have. If you have paid tax and it turns out you didn’t need to, you can claim back the tax. For the latest information www.studenttaxadvice.org.uk
If you are struggling financially you may be entitled to Hardship Funds. The main one is the Access to Learning Fund, contact the Student Advice Centre for more information and an application form. The University may also be able to help all students in emergencies in the form of a grant or a loan.
Working Out Your Budget
To work out your budget divide all the income you have over the year.
When calculating your expenditure it is important to be realistic, it is easy to under estimate how much you spend a week on such things as entertainment, mobile phone costs and ‘luxury’ items such as magazines, haircuts and cigarettes. You can use the Advice Centre’s Budget Sheet to guide you.
Remember to include costs such as payments on debts, travel home, clothes, make-up, birthday and Christmas presents; don’t forget to include course costs. Everyone expects to buy a few new core textbooks, but don’t go rushing into it. You don’t always need to buy every book on your reading list.
Remember to check your course hand book for additional costs such as lab fees, field trips, art materials, travel costs to work placements, studying abroad, lab coats, PE Kits, music accessories.
You may also wish to add a small amount per week as a buffer for any emergencies that may occur.
Minimising Your Expenditure
As well as simply cutting back on what you spend, there are other ways to reduce your outgoings:
Lower payments on your debts. If you are making large payments on credit cards etc., you may well be able to reduce them or even suspend your payments.
Shop around. This can be for anything from the cheapest mobile phone, gas and electricity companies, to buying second hand textbooks, shopping where your NUS card gives you a discount and buying a student rail card, www.nus.org.uk, www.16-25railcard.co.uk
Food and housekeeping is an area where you can make significant savings, try shopping in bulk for non-perishable items, compare supermarket prices, look out for special offers, avoid takeaways, make your own sandwiches, cook communally and avoid impulse buys – stick to your shopping list where possible! Take advantage of any loyalty card schemes your supermarket has.
- Buy value/saver/economy brands as the quality is just as good.
- Plan your meals a week in advance so you don’t have to throw food away.
- Plan where you go for a drink, the SU bar provides drinks at student friendly prices!
- Don’t take your debit card out with you to avoid drunken generosity.
Keep a careful eye on your spending. If you do have a problem, don’t panic. Don’t just borrow more money to solve your problem. Credit cards and loans can make the problem worse. If you are having a problem or anticipate one in the future then come and visit the Student Advice Centre.
Consumer Credit Counselling Service Student Beans-Discount for students
Tel: 0800 138 1111 www.studentbeans.com
Credit Action National Assoc. of Student Money Advisers
Tel: 0207 380 3390 www.nasma.org.uk
Student Loans Company Ltd Citizens Advice
Tel: 0845 026 2019 www.citizensadvice.org.uk
National Debt Line
Tel: 0808 808 4000