Students + money = problems. That seems to be the accepted wisdom, however, it doesn’t always have to be the case. Ok so you won’t leave with your finances in the best shape ever (unless you have a lottery win, of course) but it’s perfectly possible to graduate without the kind of financial issues that can really slow you down in later life.
Money is all about management, whatever stage of life you’re at. It’s actually quite a simple equation too – your incomings, minus your outgoings and not spending more than what is left. Check out our section on Affordability for tips on budgeting and getting to grips with all the hidden costs of renting as a student.
Top tip: there are lots of really handy money management apps for your smart phone that can do everything from helping you budget to reminding you when bills need to be paid. Get technical to get organised.
When you don’t have a huge income, it’s the savings that can make all the difference. These are just a few ways in which you could help save on the essentials.
– Get a 0% student overdraft. There are plenty of these around so there’s no need to pay fees.
– Sign up for all the student discounts. In particular, the NUS Extra provides 10%-50% discounts at the kind of stores you’d used every day.
– Get the cheapest energy tariffs. Sign up for a ‘switching club’ that ensures you’re always on the cheapest deal on the market.
– Pay on a credit card. There are many credit cards that offer cash back for spend, as well as air miles and shopping tokens. Don’t run up a balance – pay for your purchase and transfer the cash straight from your bank. You’ll still get the points but you won’t pay the interest.
– Share the cooking. Splitting the cost of household essentials and food with your housemates can help keep costs down – as long as you’re not funding their huge appetites!
– Buy in bulk. Look out for supermarket deals that might benefit you on the basics you really need (avoid getting sucked into those that you don’t).
– Go vintage or ‘second hand’ as it’s also known. You can find clothes, shoes, books, textbooks and even electronics at a fraction of the price.
You’re not going to earn your fortune as a student but you could generate enough cash to make life much more comfortable.
– Are you eligible for help? There are few grants available anymore but it’s working checking the Educational Grants Advisory Service and Scholarship Search to see if anything might help you.
– Get a part time job. Bars and cafes are traditionally where you will find students earning their beer money but they are not the only options. If your studies allow, a part time job in an office might provide valuable experience, as well as better pay.
– Sell online. The great benefit of ecommerce is that you can do it wherever and whenever you like. You can sell everything from home made T-shirts, to old textbooks, antiques you’ve discovered and art you’ve made – and generate enough extra profit to take the pressure off your finances.