Becoming a student for most people means stepping out into the big bad world on your own, fending for yourself and taking control of your own finances. But don’t worry, it’s not as scary as it might sound! Here are some tips on how to manage your finance as a student!
Open up the right student bank account
Let’s kick off from the very beginning and before you even start spending money on coffees for your early morning lectures, you need to think about what account you’re going to set up. There is a tonne of student bank accounts out there, most of which offer interest-free overdrafts and freebies.
According to moneysavingexpert.com, the best student banks in 2021 are:
Nationwide FlexStudent: Guaranteed £1,000 0% overdraft in year one, £2,000 in year two and £3,000 in year three
Santander 123 Student Account: Free four-year railcard and guaranteed £1,500 0% overdraft in years one to three
The keyword is ‘guaranteed’ as other student bank accounts state they offer ‘up to’ a certain amount of money which means it’s not set in stone that you can receive that full amount. This is something to watch out for so if you are eyeing up another great student bank account like HSBC’s one, which offers up to £3,000, you’ll need to work on improving your credit score to give you a better chance of securing a larger overdraft.
Something really important you need to remember is that overdrafts are not free money and the bigger they are, the more debt you’ll be in! It’s up to you to find the balance between having an overdraft large enough to accommodate your needs, but not too large that you’ll struggle to pay it all back. If you know budgeting isn’t exactly your forte, perhaps gunning for the £3,000 overdraft isn’t the best option!
Budget budget budget
So, you’ve got your snazzy new student account set up but how do you go about controlling your spending and not diving too deep into your overdraft too soon? Everyone knows that the majority of students don’t live the most luxurious life but that’s just part of the fun of uni! After all, you haven’t lived until you’ve raided the reduced section in Aldi at 9.30 pm or counted out enough coppers to pay for a McDonald’s cheeseburger!
But on a serious note, budgeting is a crucial part of managing your finances as a student and not something to be overlooked, particularly if things are a bit tight!
How to Budget Finances as a Student
- Write down your monthly income including your student loan, part-time job earnings, money from scholarships, bursaries or grants and if you receive it, money from your parents.
- Work out how much your essential expenses cost including rent, bills, insurance, food shops, transport, textbooks, etc.
- Work out how much your non-essential expenses cost including subscriptions, nights out, sports memberships, beauty treatments, eating out, shopping, etc.
- Subtract your essential expenses from your monthly income so you can see how much disposable income you have left. Can it be divided up into your non-essentials or do you need to cut them down a bit? Do you really need to order Dominos three times a week or could you just cook that 67p pizza sat in the bottom of your freezer? Could you cancel your gym membership and take up running instead?
- Set up a spreadsheet (if Excel isn’t your thing then just download one) to automatically calculate your spending or consider joining Monzo or Starling Bank and setting up a card purely for your disposable income. As well as being banks, they offer incredible budgeting functionality which allows you to control your spending. I swear by Monzo and wish I had it when I was back at college!
Don’t be afraid to invest in your future
When you’re a student, finances are the last thing on your mind. It’s easy to get caught up in the here and now and forget about your future. However, there are a few small things you can do which I guarantee your future self will thank you for.
Set up an emergency fund
We all know things go wrong in life. Cars break down, phone screens crack and laptops crash- life happens! So it’s sensible to have a little emergency fund on standby for when these events occur.
Open a savings account
Saving is something a lot of people struggle with so why not try and get into the habit early on? No one’s saying you need to save thousands! But depositing just £20 a month into an easy access savings account before you start spending the rest of your money can get you into the right mentality.
Improve credit score
Your credit score impacts a lot of things. From financing a car, renting a flat and securing a loan/mortgage so you need to keep it in check. It can be difficult to constantly improve it as a student but by paying your bills on time, registering to vote and regularly spending and paying off a credit card (even if it’s just £10 a month), you may start to see it increase.
Set up a Lifetime ISA
A Lifetime ISA is a bank account designed for first time buyers (and people saving for later life) where you can deposit up to £4,000 a year and the government will add a 25% bonus to your savings. This money is only to buy your first home (or for later life when you’re over the age of 60.) It is game-changing when it comes to buying your first property. As a student, buying a house might be one of the last things on your mind but it’s important to get one set up anyway. Even if you just deposit £5 a month into it, you’ll be grateful in a few years!
Apps like Trading 212 and Freetrade make it possible for any Tom, Dick or Harry to invest! If you do your research and ensure you’re investing in the right companies, you can see some huge returns. Who knows, you could buy £10’s worth of shares in an up-and-coming tech company and in a few months, it could be worth £150!
But I’ll make it clear now, you should only invest your money if you can afford to lose it. Whether that’s a tenner or £200, don’t invest more than you’d be happy to throw down the drain!
Download useful apps
When you’re a student managing finances apps are your best friend! From budgeting to discount codes to making money and we all love an app, don’t we? Here are a few of my favourites!
If you struggle with saving, Plum could be the perfect app for you. It just transfers a small amounts of money from your main account into a savings account without you even noticing. It can also round up your transactions to the nearest £1 and transfer the spare change into your savings which is such a great way of saving money!
Too Good To Go is a genius app which allows you to buy food from supermarkets, farm shops, cafes and other eateries which is about to go out of date or hasn’t been sold to prevent it from being chucked in the bin. Great for your bank account and great for the environment, what’s not to love?
If you’re not already using cashback websites then what on earth are you doing? I’ve made over £180 in the last two years from using TopCashback which is basically a website you use to click through to your favourite online shops. So it’s quick and easy money!
With all this advice, you should find managing your finances as a student much easier. But just remember, it’s all about living within your means! And if things get too tough, no one will judge you for asking for more hours at your part-time job or having to beg your parents to pay for your next food shop… It’s just part of being a student!
Do you have any tips on managing your finances as a student? Or is there anything you wish you knew before you started first year?
About the Author: Katy is a lifestyle blogger who discusses all things adulting from saving money and getting a job to moving out and mortgages on thegrownupsclub.com.