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Managing Your Money

Whilst your finances may not be the most exciting part of university life, managing them well is really important in order for you to have the best time!

Whilst many young people have had part time jobs before, if you are moving away from home, chances are it will be the first time you have had to manage your own living costs. Read on to find out what living expenses you'll incur during your time at university, how to support your studies and how to budget for a successful university experience.

 

Living Costs

When you are a student, money can be tight sometimes and you need to make sure that every penny is accounted for. This is a list of the most important costs you have when living away from home:
 

Rent

If you're living away from home, chances are you're going to have to pay your own rent. If you're living in university owned halls of residence this could cost you anything from £70 - £130 per week, in fact given the extortionate prices many universities are now charging it's actually far cheaper to rent privately and many students choose to do this in their second and third years.

 

Bills

Most university owned halls of residence include bill payments in their rental cost, although you may find yourself hit with a bill if you use "too much" electricity so be careful and make sure you read the small print. If you're living in privately rented accommodation you'll need to pay for electricity, gas,  and water. You may also need to pay for a telephone line and internet connection if you want them. Typically the more people you share a house with, the cheaper the bills will be as there are more people to share the cost. Around £50 a month each should cover your bills, based on 4 people sharing a house / flat.  

 

Socialising

Socialising is a big part of university life, but that doesn't mean it has to be expensive. The student union at your university will offer a range of clubs and societies which offer a way to meet new people with similar interests to yourself and take part in your favourite pastimes, whether it's computer games, football or skydiving, at a cheap rate. In addition signing up for an NUS (National Union of Students) card can get you discounts all over town including shops, hairdressers, restaurants, nightclubs and the cinema - so many places offer student discount it's impossible to list them all!

 

Books

No matter what course you study at university, you're going to have to read some books. Whilst the university library will carry a selection of what you need, it's often quite difficult to get hold of the right books at the right time when 50 people are all after the same book at once! Luckily if you shop around, websites like eBay and Amazon offer a large selection of second hand books at a fraction of the cost of buying new ones, and when you're done you can always sell them on again. If you're working with friends on a group project, why not club together and buy the book between you?

 

Travelling Expenses

The closer you live to university, the less you'll have to spend on transport, so make sure you bear this in mind when choosing somewhere to live. That being said discounted student rail and bus passes offer a great way to get around at cheap rates.

 

Clothing

If you're at university for three years, chances are you'll want to buy some new clothes during that time, and with the large variety of city centre shops it's easy to get carried away - and many people do. The trick is to set yourself a monthly budget, and make sure you stick to it.

 

Telephone Costs

Having a hectic social life can also mean a hectic telephone bill. If you're spending a lot on pay as you go, take a look at some of the student only contracts offered by big companies such as Orange & Vodafone, it could save you a small fortune.

 

Getting Paid

Most students take out a student loan, and many students are eligible for a maintenance grant to cover the costs of university (see our student finance section for more details). The loan tends to cover your tuition fees and living expenses. If you are paying for your own accommodation, the student loan tends to just about cover that so you may well need a part-time job to cover your spending money.

Even if you aren’t paying your own rent, part-time part time work during term time is a great way to earn some extra cash, meet new people and learn some new skills, not to mention a great addition to your CV. Most students work between 12-16 hours per week in various jobs such as shops, restaurants, bars and call centres. Most universities also have a Job Shop to help you find part-time work to support your studies. 

Working full-time over the summer holidays is a great way to significantly boost your wallet!

 

Budgeting Tips

Whilst your student loan may seem like a lot of money, it's got to last you all term, so it's essential to make a budget and stick to it! Before your loan arrives, work out your monthly outgoings for living costs (rent, bills, clothing, etc) and work out how much you can afford to spend each week on your social life. At this point you can work out if you're going to need a part-time job and how many hours you'll need to work.

Once you've worked out your budget - make sure you stick to it. More students drop out of university because they've got themselves into a mess financially than for any other reason. Don't be one of them!