Written by Tia
BA (Hons) Communication and Media
One thing most students worry about before coming to university is money. But, don’t worry, you won’t have to live off Pot Noodles because that is all you can afford. That is a myth. You can eat well and do all the things you want to. The trick is budgeting. Some people do end up with little money left. However, this is often because they haven’t budgeted, or the night their loan drops they go out and buy everyone a round. So here are my top tips for budgeting and how to navigate your student finance.
When you apply for student finance, one easy way to possibly get some extra money through bursaries and scholarships is to tick the little box that says you agree for student finance to share your information with the university. By doing this, it means the uni can assess whether you are eligible for any extra money that you don’t have to pay back. I received a bursary in my first year and it really helped ease any nerves about money.
Your Tuition Fee Loan is paid straight to the university (if this is the method of payment you choose), so you don’t need to worry about this. Your Maintenance Loan is paid straight into your bank account in three chunks: first term, second term and third term. The first term is usually the smallest amount and the third term the largest. It typically is paid into your account just before the start of each term. When you get paid, make sure you work out how much you roughly have per week, then work out how much you want to spend and how much you want to save. Make sure (especially during freshers week) you don’t splurge and spend all your money, leaving you with little for the rest of the term. When you first move to uni and gain some independence it is very tempting to do this, but try not to!
By budgeting and putting some money aside, it means you can save for things you want to do like going to festivals, events, buying something you’ve wanted for a while, or if you’re like me you can save to go travelling after you graduate (Covid-19 dependent of course!).
Opening a Student Bank Account
Before you start uni, or even once you’re there, do a little research into the different bank accounts offered to students and the perks of choosing one. A lot of them will offer a little incentive so you pick them. For example, Santander offered a four-year 16-34 railcard for free or some offer Amazon vouchers. A lot of them will offer interest free overdrafts too so look into what suits you.
I personally didn’t get a part-time job in my first or second year as I didn’t need one and wanted to spend my time doing uni work. However, they are a great way to make a little extra cash each month and so in my final year I applied to be a Student Ambassador with the university allowing me to save money for travelling. Once you join the university, you will have access to the BU Careers Hub where companies post jobs for students making it easy to apply for roles.
How I do my weekly (or sometimes fortnightly) shop for less than £20
One major change of mine was reducing how much meat I ate. I haven’t cut it out but reducing how often I eat it not only helps my wallet but it helps the environment too!
I recommend taking a list to the shop with you. I used to go to the shop and just buy what I fancied when I was there but this meant I was often eating the same stuff, spending loads of extra money and ending up with a load of random ingredients that I can’t really make a meal with. Before you go to the shop, have a look through some cookbooks, recipes online, or even supermarket’s free magazines or recipe cards. By doing this I’ve cooked something new most nights, tried lots of new things and eaten on a budget. Try and match recipes that use similar ingredients too, that way you reduce the amount of waste and save some money. Another way to reduce waste and make your shops last longer is to make up a few recipes or have a few easy go to ones you can whip out with the leftover ingredients at the end of the week. See my 4 easy student recipe vlog for some budget-friendly recipes.
If you have any questions about how I manage my money at uni, please feel free to message me on Unibuddy.