There is no doubt that studying can be expensive time, and that student loan or nest egg can soon disappear if you don’t manage your finances carefully.
There are a wealth of resources online to help you budget and manage your money, including handy guides published by UCAS, the NUS and the Money Advice Service. There are also a number of apps which can help you organise your finances on your phone.
To help you plan your finances effectively, we asked our students to share some of their personal top tips for budgeting and saving money, as well as some of the lessons they’ve learned the hard way.
“Plan in advance what your expenses will be for each month and stick to it.”
“Use money management apps”
"The Monzo card provides a breakdown of all your outgoings. Set up a standing order for a set amount each week and use it for all your day-to-day payments. It will help you keep track of what you are spending."
“Make a spreadsheet recording your ‘leisure expenses’.”
“Don’t be tempted to spend all of your student loan straight away. Put some of it aside and plan in advance for any bills.”
“Save your receipts and go through them at the end of each week to understand how much you have spent.”
“I keep my current account and student account separate. That way I can transfer money from one to the other as I need it. I’m always aware of how much is in each account and what I’m spending.”
"Put your student loan into a seperate account and then work out how much you have to spend each month and per term. Only transfer that amount into your current account."
“Put something away into your savings and then budget what’s left – that way you have a back up if it’s ever needed. And if you don’t have a savings account, open one!”
“As London life can be expensive, trying to save where you can is my top tip. That will allow you to have the occasional amazing trip or incredible night out without having to count every penny.”
"If you work for yourself and are studying part-time, building a financial cushion around exam time helps make time for revising."
"Work in the summer months to try to build up some cushioning and spending money."
“Leave your purse at home, bring a packed-lunch and keep a jar of coffee and mug in your locker.”
“Make large dinners so you have food for lunch the next day.”
"Buy secondhand text books - it saves so much money!"
“Visit charity shops for clothes and get a bike! Most councils in London provide free one-to-one cycling lessons and it’s not as scary as it looks.”
“If you have to drive to a station before catching a train to the UCO use the Just Park app on your smartphone. People advertise their available driveways for parking for less than typical station car parking fees.”
"Try staying at uni to study so you miss rush hour prices on trains."
“Don’t quick buy, buy with intent. Otherwise it’s a waste, whether it’s on food, equipment or a treat.”
“Savings accounts don’t always have the best interest rates. I moved my savings into my student account as the rates were much higher (you just have to remember not to spend it all).”
Top discount schemes and places to grab a bargain
“Better Bankside’s ‘Dr Bike’ offers free cycling courses and bike maintenance.”
“Anything on Save the Student.”
"My NUS card is my saviour, but also get a railcard if you travel home to visit family often."
“Unidays is amazing. It’s free and you just need your university email address to sign up.”
“Amazon Prime for students.”
"Open every kind of student saving app you can find, they all differ and can help. Use your student discounts - don't be ashamed or think you are being cheap."
“Network Railcard (if you’re too old for a Young Person’s Railcard).”
Expenses to factor in from the start
“DCP equipment – it’s worth getting good quality gear which is expensive (ask the tutors for their recommendations).”
“Travel costs – they can really add up in London if you decide to use public transport.”
"Bills - some accommodation doesn't include bills and they can surprise you, especially in the winter months."
“Cost of clinic outfit and DCP kit – don’t skimp on the stethoscope!”
Expenses you could have easily lived without
"Transport - you can walk everywhere pretty easily in central London."
“Buying lots of text books. It’s best to wait and see what you really need.”
“Takeaways, although my brain at the time would probably argue differently! They are pricey but sometimes you really need a treat.”
Financial advice and assistance
Remember that our Student Support team are also on hand to support you with budgeting or financial concerns during your studies, and the UCO offers several bursaries and loans for students who find themselves in unexpected hardship. It’s important not to let money worries affect your studies or your mental health, so if you think you might need help don’t hesitate to contact the student support team at firstname.lastname@example.org