Money can be one of the biggest concerns for new university students. The reason is that for most people it's the first time they have to handle their own finances and pay bills and stuff.
That's why we've come up with this really thorough guide to managing your money at university. We'll talk about what the deal is with student loans, tell you a tonne of ways you can make money as a student and also how to save money and cut costs along the way.
This is the first important thing to think about because student loans will be the main source of income for most students. What’s more the process of applying for and receiving cash from Student Finance can sometimes be problematic.
Then when you do get your loan you need to make it last until your next instalment comes through. Basically, it’s definitely something new students need to think about and get used to. It does get easier to work out as time goes on, promise!
A student loan will be the best kind of loan you will ever be able to get in your life. It’s extremely low-interest and you don’t have to start paying it back until you’re earning above 21k per year (this is the deal for current students and is subject to change). There’s absolutely no chance of ever being able to borrow money like this again.
You might think taking out a loan for maintenance costs is unnecessary if you’re lucky enough to get a few quid from the parentals or you plan on working throughout your degree. Even if this is the case you should still take the loan and stick it in a high-interest cash ISA. You can pay the loan back when you finish, and you’ll earn a load of interest for doing nothing!
CASE STUDY: Maintenance Loans
Bryony Fairchild, a former psychology student at Royal Hollaway, did this and with much success. She worked in a few different retail positions while she was at university and because she was earning some extra pocket money she was able to put the money from her maintenance loan into an ISA.
My ISA made enough in interest for me to pay off my loan. I left uni with hardly any debt.
Problems With Your Loan
It can be very worrying if you don’t get your student loan straight away. You’re trying to make it on your own for the first time and you don’t have any cash for rent, food, travel and anything else you may need (booze probably).
There are a few reasons why you might not have received your loan. You should get your loan a few days after registering with your university. So, even if you have a Fresher’s Week hangover make sure you get your ass into university to register or you won’t get your loan.
You or your sponsor might not have supplied all of the documents Student Finance need to assess what you’re entitled to. To resolve your money problem, you’ll need to simply send those documents as soon as and wait.
If you’re unsure as to why you haven’t received your loan yet or if there’s any other kind of issue then contact Student Finance. Don’t forget that the call centres will be extremely busy at this time of year because every student and his backpack has problems to begin with.
Your First Instalment
This might be the first time you have your own money and/or the first time you have to organise your finances yourself. It’s really tempting to just go out and buy a load of flash new gear or clothes and spend a wad of cash down the pub every night. If you do then you’ll be broke before you know it and praying for the next instalment to come in as soon as possible.
Thankfully, student loans do come in instalments which means you won’t get the opportunity to blow it all in one go. You do however need to remember that you have outgoings now. You might want to pay for all of your accommodation costs when you get your loan so you know that you have a roof over your head and the rest of your money can go towards the other stuff in your budget.
Alternatively, you could put each instalment into a savings account and only transfer your monthly budget into your current account each month to make sure you have enough to pay for the important stuff like your accommodation costs and travel into uni.
You'll probably want to supplement your loan by making your own money. This is the way forward if you want to be able to afford any "luxury" items such as nice clothes, holidays or meals out. The question is, how are you going to make that cash?
The most obvious method of earning some extra money as a student is to bag yourself a part-time job. There are a few things to take into consideration before you can get a job such as knowing what kind of job is right for you, making sure your CV is in tip-top condition and that you're able to strike a good balance between working and studying.
Let's not forget though that there are lots of alternative ways to make money as a student. We've come up with a few strong ideas for you in this section.
If you want to earn while you learn you should consider getting a part-time job. There are a few steps you’ll need to take before applying however. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What is my main priority - work experience or cash?
- How much money do I need per week?
- How many hours will I spend studying / at university?
Firstly, this will help you to determine the type of job you want to apply for. For example, if it’s work experience you’re after then you’ll want to get a job in the field you’re hoping to work in. If it’s just the cash you’re after right now then it doesn’t matter where you work.
You will also determine approximately how many hours you need to work each week. Your studies are the most important thing right now so you’ll obviously need to treat uni work as a priority. This means being realistic and not working so many hours that you can’t fit in your school work. The amount of money you think you’ll need each week will also contribute to the number of hours you’ll want to work each week.
Another route to take is to work as flexible/seasonal staff for companies like events agencies.
Top 10 Student Jobs
- Bar Work
- Charity Fundraising
- Flexible/Seasonal Work
- Work for the University
Top 5 CV Writing Tips for Students
Writing a CV when you're first starting university can be extremely difficult. This is because you probably don't have much in the way of work experience yet. So we've put together some top tips specifically for students:
1. Add some personality within your personal statement to stand out from the crowd. Employers are looking for more than just academic skills.
2. Add a "Hobbies & Interests" section if your CV is looking bare, it's another way to put your personality across too.
3. Emphasise your "soft skills" (personal skills) such as confidence, work ethic.
4. Back up your statements with clear examples, such as "I am a confident speaker, a skill which I developed through joining my high school debate team."
5. Present your CV in a neat and clear fashion, it doesn't have to be anything fancy.
- Bonus Tip: Download a CV template to help guide you in the right direction.
Selling Stuff Online
This is becoming an more and more popular way for students to make some extra money while at university. There are a few options when it comes to selling stuff to make cash.
Thanks to online platforms like Etsy it’s easy to make decent money from your very own creations. So if you’re crafty and enjoy the types of DIY projects you see on Pinterest then this is the job for you. You don’t even necessarily have to be a master crafter, if you can come up with a unique idea you can get somebody else to make it.
The other way to go about this is by buying cheap wares and selling them for more money. For example, you could pop into your local charity shop and pick up some cheap “vintage” pieces. We all know that vintage or retro style clothing sells for big bucks, so sell your finds on eBay for a profit.
This is a really fun alternative way for students to make money. It shows entrepreneurial acumen too which is brilliant for your CV. It’s certainly worth giving a go, and who knows you could wind up raking it in.
Alternative Money-Making Methods
If you’re the kind of fresher that laughs in the face of tradition then you may want to find some alternative routes to making money. This could be much more beneficial to you because these more unusual kinds of methods don’t have a strict regimen. Essentially you’ll make money when you can be bothered putting in the time to make money.
There are lots and lots (and lots) of ways you can go about making money while you’re studying. There are some notorious cases in which students made a tonne of dough by doing something completely random.
CASE STUDY: Million Dollar Billboard Club
You've probably heard of the young guy who set up The Million Dollar Homepage back in 2005. This year a student by the name of Richard Wilson has created a site on the same basic principal but with a twist.
UCL fresher Wilson sells pixels on his site Milliondollarbillboard.club to advertisers and is cashing in around £13,000 per week. He will later go on to use some of his profits to purchase billboard advertisements for the advertisers who have purchased pixels.
Because there are so many ways of making money we've put together an infographic you can take a quick look at and get some bright ideas. There really are too many to write about in depth here so you'll have to do a little research for yourself. Don't moan about it, you'll have to get used to that kind of stuff at uni anyway!
30 Unusual Ways to Make Money as A Student (Infographic)
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Whether you have a job yet or not money is always tight while you’re at university. It’s not that you want to make savings on your outgoings it’s often the case that you absolutely have to. Saving money while at university is absolutely vital so that you’ll worry less and can make the most of your university experience by doing as many things as you can (doing things costs money).
The first thing you’ll have to do is create a budget and try your very best to stick to it. You’ll also want to think about how you’re going to make savings by cutting the costs of the things you buy whenever and wherever you can. It’s almost always possible to make even just a small saving on everything from food to transport to clothing.
Creating a Budget
The sooner you create a budget the better. It doesn’t have to be set in stone and can be altered at a later date if your incomings and outgoings change.
As you’ve probably guessed therefore the first thing you’ll need to do in order to create a budget is to work out how much cash you’ll have coming in and when. This includes any money from your parents, your student loan and grants, your earnings from a part-time job and any other income you’re going to have.
- Bonus Tip: Only use your overdraft in an emergency - it doesn't count as part of your budget.
Split the total into a weekly (or monthly amount), so it’s easier to manage. Then split this again into how much you’re going to spend on different expenses per week or month i.e. food, transport, toiletries etc. Put the most important things first (the things that will help you stay alive), and work out how much money you’ll have for other types of spending such as going out, luxuries, takeaways etc.
When creating your budget, it’s important to factor in smaller expenses that you may not have thought of such as, we don’t know, staples. But as we said previously your budget can be changed later when you get more used to what’s coming in and going out.
NO. OF WEEKS
COST PER WEEK
COST PER YEAR
Course Related Costs
Sport & Social
Phone & Internet
Transport to Uni
£3,640 - £4,420
Source: York University
Top 5 Tips for Sticking to Your Student Budget
Not only do you have to create your budget, you have to stick to it too unfortunately. But here are some tips for doing just that:
1. Keep your bank statements and check them regularly to make sure you're on track.
2. Don't just follow the crowd if you haven't got enough cash to do something.
3. Only have enough cash in your purse/wallet that you can afford to spend, especially if you're going on a night out.
4. Whenever you're making a purchase ask yourself whether you just want it or you actually need it.
5. Don't get too stressed out or too constrained with your budget because you might end up going on a spending binge.
The savviest students attempt to make savings in all walks of life and you should too. Think about it, if you make savings now and have a little extra cash at the end of each month it means you can treat yourself or simply be in less debt by the time you finish university.
In the following you'll find some general tips for lowering the cost of each expense. You'll also find out where to find the best deals and discounts.
- Take a shopping list with you and only buy what you need.
- Share food with your house mates so you can buy cheaper items in bulk.
- Freeze food so it doesn't go off and is therefore wasted.
- Get a discounted weekly or student travel card e.g. a student Oyster card.
- Take the bus or walk wherever you can, it's cheaper than trains, trams etc.
- Always book trains home in advance or take the coach.
- Buy second-hand online or from former students.
- Use Gooogle Books for excerpts of the texts you might need.
- Instead of buying the books, use the library's copy as long as you can. Reserve the books where necessary.
- Always check if there's a student discount available.
- Buy second-hand from charity shops and the like.
- Use price comparison sites for everything you need.
- Have a couple of drinks before you go out rather than going to a pub or bar.
- Go to local student nights for cheaper drinks.
- Get friendly with promoters for discounted tickets or free entry.
- Use Skype to call your friends and family to lower your phone bill.
- Don't bother with a TV, license and subscription, watch your fave shows on demand.
- Be careful with your use of electricity and heating.
We hope you've found this post helpful and you're feeling well-equipped to deal with the money perils that could come your way during your first year at university.
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Sources: This is Money, Student Crowd, Money Saving Expert, Bright Knowledge, Save the Student, Student Profit, Pixabay, The Guardian
Money is one of the biggest concerns for university students. As well as attending lectures, completing essays, and revising for exams, you have the added task of making your student loan stretch as far as possible to cover your rent, bills, travel costs and food, not to mention your socialising budget! Our tips will help you make the most of your money without the financial stress impacting on your degree.