Money. It can be a great word, it can be a scary word.
As a student, managing your own money can be daunting if you haven’t done it before. Whether it is your first pay check from your part-time job, or your first student loan, things can go downhill fast without a proper plan in place. Managing your money is not a matter of luck, chance or talent. It’s more about willingness, discipline and time – and knowing how to manage your money is an invaluable life hack.
Assess your income
You’ll probably hear a lot about budgeting and or you might have attempted it before even. The key thing that you want to know about it is that you want to have your expenses lower than your income. Keeping it that way will heavily contribute to you having a good night’s sleep and making you worry less about money. Start with looking at how much you get per month. If you don’t have a fixed number then it is always better to undervalue it than overvalue it. Your income should give you a clear idea of how much you should allow yourself this month. If you can, put aside some money for a rainy day, but don’t cut back on essentials because of it.
Assess your expenditure
Look at your expenses. Now this is where you want to be real with it. Food, rent, bills and other essentials will most likely have a fixed rate, and you should never compensate on them. Without proper food, you can’t function, without rent money you don’t have a roof over your head. Think of them as the pillars of your budget – immovable and uncompromising. The money that you dedicate to leisure activities, treat-yo-self purchases, and goings-out should always be the most flexible and fluid part of your budget. If needs be and you need to compromise but don’t have an emergency rainy-day fund, that part of your budget will probably need to shrink.
- You might be paying for things that you don’t have to pay for!
- If you are a full-time student, you are exempt from council tax. If you are living in a household with someone who is not a student – and you are – you are still entitled to a discount.
- If you are a low-income working student, you may not have to pay Income Tax.
- If you have a student card (and we hope that you do by now), you should know that many retailers offer discounts. Present your student card for a nice little discount, or head over to UniDays (which also comes in app form) for the full list of brands and retailers that offer discounts.
- Don’t forget about travel discounts! Scotrail offers 1/3rd off your ticket if you have a railcard. You can apply for one if you are 16-25 years old – just pick up a form from your nearest train station or apply online.
Food is an expensive necessity, but it doesn’t mean you have to pay loads to eat well. Buying products in bulk does work, so grab a friend when shopping next. You might also find that having a second pair of hands when carrying the bags is quite helpful too! Avoid processed food which costs so much and does your body no good, but rather explore the magic of cooking more and freezing leftovers. Many food stores also offer online deliveries so you can buy more stuff in bulk – snap up all the deals and have your cupboard stocked for the whole month.
Boost your income
There are ways to boost your income, too. If you find yourself with too much time on your hands, why not consider having a part-time job? It will get you out and about, you’ll get some experience and you might meet some seriously cool people on the way. Some charities even seek student researchers in a particular area of study, and they offer grants if you help them out. The NUS page has an excellent guide on finding that particular support.
As technologically advanced people, we don’t use the help that comes in apps nearly often enough. Dedicate some space on your smartphone to money-managing apps, such as Mint.com, OnTree (both available on iOS, Android and Windows). If you need to keep on track with your taxes, use the official HMRC app (iOS and Android). For on-the-go updates of your bank account situation, pick an official app from the bank that you use (most major banks have one).
Sometimes financial hardships can sneak up on us even if we’re careful with how we handle money.
If you’re having financial troubles Student Support Services can offer one on one sessions with a financial advisor who will look over your budget and either suggest improvements or direct you to a source of help. If you’d like to speak with someone about finances, come to Cottrell room 2Z to book an appointment on Mondays (11am-12.30pm ) and Thursdays (9-10am), or give us a call on 01786 466022. Drop-in sessions are available on Wednesdays 2-4pm in Cottrell 2A1.
– Gabriele Misgirdaite, Student Assistant