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Managing your finances as a student

By StudentLiving 21 Aug 2023

Live comfortably by keeping an eye on those pennies.

The urge to blow your student loan as soon as it drops is real. But with a little restraint, you can live stress-free knowing you have money for both the essentials and the fun stuff. All it takes is a few smart decisions here and there and you will be financially sound. Here's how you should manage your finances as a student:

Come up with a budget

Work out how much money you will have coming in and out each month so you can figure out where you can save money and how much you can spend on certain things. For instance, you will be able to calculate what exactly you will need for rent, bills, food shopping, etc and how much spare cash you have for fun things like nights out and takeaways.  

You will need to decide how strict you need to be following the budget, such as whether you give yourself a weekly allowance but we would recommend putting money aside as contingency for a rainy day (any surprise costs). The MoneySavingExpert has a fantastic step-by-step guide that you can follow to create your budget.

Always be on the lookout for discounts


The good thing about being a student is you now have access to lots of new discounts. Most shops and restaurants have special offers/discounts targeted at students and not all of them are advertised well, so there's no harm in asking if you're unsure. These discounts might be small sometimes, but 10% off here and there will save you a big amount in the long run. 

Find out what discounts are currently available both online and offline using services like UNiDAYS or Student Beans, where you can search for specific shops or items to easier see if you can save big. If you can get into the habit of bargain hunting then you will end up with more spare cash each month.

You can also save money on travel by either choosing to walk or cycle when possible, cutting back on expensive public transport such as Uber or investing in a travel card for certain modes of transport. For example, you can save 1/3 on train tickets by getting a railcard. Do your research and you'll discover plenty of discounts easier available to you.

Shop smart, eat smarter

Food usually ends up being one of the biggest costs for students but that high number can be seriously reduced with a few easy steps. Start by using your budget to come up with a meal plan, which details what ingredients you will need each week. This will save you from overspending on food that will just go to waste. If you need ideas for meals, then check out some easy beginner recipes you can try.

Aim to get the ingredients from cheaper supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl. Doing your food shop based on convenience alone (e.g. shopping at your closest corner shop) will add up over time so get in the healthy habit early by comparing prices and finding your cheapest option.

Consider a part-time job

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If you're struggling with finding income each month then it might be time to get a part-time job. Your studies should be your focus but if you have the time then having a little work on the side can make all the difference. You could even try to find work within the field you want to go in after uni so you're getting some applicable experience alongside the cash. UoN offers part-time opportunities to students that keep their studies in mind, so it's worth checking through us first before anywhere else.

Can the University help?

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You may find yourself in financial difficulty as a result of the cost-of-living crisis. There are university support funds you may be eligible to apply for, along with services and facilities that could help manage and stretch your budget.

If you are already claiming all the support you are eligible for from the Government - including your student loan - but are still struggling to make ends meet, you may be eligible to apply to the Student Hardship Fund.

There’s also the Student Crisis Fund. This provides small, interest-free loans to students experiencing financial difficulties because of an unexpected change in their circumstances after admission to the university.

Find out more about financial support and the universities advice here.

Balancing your finances during your student years might pose a challenge, yet there's no need for it to become a source of stress. Embracing these straightforward suggestions will help you extend the longevity of your loan while still enjoying your student life.