Managing your money at university can be difficult especially if it is your first time living away from home. Making your income last throughout the academic year and holidays can be a challenging. With a little bit of planning and organisation you can take control of your finances and we have provided some advice below to help.
Opening a student bank account
Various banks will offer a ‘student bank account’ with extra benefits such as interest free overdrafts specifically for students in higher education. MoneySavingExpert.com provide more detailed information on the best student accounts for 2019/20 on their website.
Maximise your Income & Benefits
Make sure you are receiving all of the income such as student finance and funding that you are entitled to. Financial help may be available to students in certain circumstances such as if you are a care home leaver or have a disability that affects your ability to study. Aston University also has a number of bursaries, funds and trusts available to students in certain situations. The University’s Student Hub can provide advice on Student Finance available and the financial assistance available from the University.
Many students increase their income by working part-time. Visit the University’s Job Shop for help finding a job.
Most full-time students won’t be eligible for payment of welfare benefits. There may be exceptions such as if you have children, a partner who isn’t in full-time education, a disability or long-term health condition or are over pensionable age. Our advice service can provide basic advice on benefits for students. Additional benefits advice for students can be found on Turn2us website or the Citizens Advice Bureau (Birmingham) who specialise in benefits advice.
Creating a budget plan can help you to avoid financial difficulties which can have a negative impact on your wellbeing and cause stress.
You can do this by creating a spreadsheet or writing a list with your income and spending. Work out your income by adding up all of the sources of income you’ll receive over the year. Then do the same for your spending making sure to include any tuition fees, rent and to budget food/drink, electric/gas/water/phone bills, books, travel costs etc. You must make sure your income is either more than or equal to your spending. You can then convert your income and spending for the year into monthly (divide by 12) or weekly amounts (divide by 52) to help you manage and balance your budget. While budgets are flexible and can be changes, you must put money for essentials aside (rent, tuition fees, bills etc.) before spending on other items.
We can provide help you create a budget plan and provide advice on your budget. Moneysavingexpert.com also has a very helpful webpage on student budgeting and saving tips. Other websites such as UCAS, Money Advice Service and National Debtline have examples of budget sheets, calculators and planners with guidance on costs you should remember to include.
Saving Money – A few tips
- Budgeting - Use your budget sheet/planner to work out what you can afford to spend each week. You could then carry that money out in cash to spend and monitor your expenditure.
- Shopping - Buy a Totum/NUS Card and use it to receive a student discount online and in stores
- Food Shopping - Towards the end of the day, supermarkets reduce the price of some items to very low prices usually because the food has a short best-before or use-by date. You could buy this low priced food and freeze it on the same day to use at a later date
- Cooking – Cook big meals for more than one day and freeze the leftovers. A list of quick and affordable student friendly recipes can be found on the BBC Website
- Lunch – Make your own lunch and use a reusable water bottle which you can refill on campus instead of buying lunch and drinks everyday
- Books - Use the library or buy books second hand. If you have to buy new books remember to sell them when you no longer need it.
- Travel – Buy a 16-25 railcard and save 33% on train fares
- Exercise – Save money on going to the gym by exercising at home. Search for a suitable free exercise at home video. Also walk more and if possible take the stairs instead of using the lift. If you travel in by bus you could get off a couple of stops earlier and walk. It’s cheaper than going to the gym.
Money Problems – If things go wrong
Please contact us for advice as soon as possible if you are having money problems or find that your spending is more than your income. We can help you to review your budget and try to find ways of increasing your income. Please don’t wait until you are in debt or unable to afford your essential bills such as rent, tuition and household bills like electric/gas/water/phone. If we are unable to provide the level of help you require we can provide information about other specialist advice organisations who may be able to help.
Additional Specialist Support
Student Hub – Aston University (Main Building)
Provide advice on tuition fees, student finance and funding. Email: FinancialSupport@aston.ac.uk or telephone 0121 204 4007. More information can be found on their website. https://www2.aston.ac.uk/current-students/hub/student-advice.
Charity providing free confidential debt advice on 0808 808 4000. Helpful resources such as sample letters and factsheets can be found on their website. https://www.nationaldebtline.org
Money Advice Service
Free and impartial money advice set up by the government. They can provide online and telephone support on 0800 138 7777 over the telephone and helpful resources and advice on their website. https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en
Charity providing free confidential telephone advice on 0808 802 0925 for single parent families on a variety of issues including money matters such as benefits entitlement.
Disability Rights UK
Charity with information for disabled students in further and higher education, including a range of factsheets and resources. They also have a helpline 0330 995 0414. https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/
Charity for international students that provides extensive information on funding, as well as support for UK students intending to study overseas. They also have a telephone advice service on +4420 7788 9214. https://www.ukcisa.org.uk/