More Money Tips and Tricks I Learnt At University

It is that time of year again. Student finance applications just opened for next year and that got me thinking about money. I am back at it again with more financial tips and tricks that have helped me at university so far. This part has more tangible things you can do about working, saving and investing your hard-earned cash.

One of the first things I did as soon as I was eligible was sign up for a student bank account. These often come with good discounts and offers. Who doesn’t like free money? Santander has 1/3 off 16-25 railcards and 15% cashback with retailer offers (something I have used when at Costa, ordering of Just Eats or buying shoes from JD).

Having an emergency fund is so important and genuinely a life saver. A good rule of thumb is to have 3 months’ worth of basic expenses set aside in a bank account that you do not withdraw from unless in an emergency. A popular basic emergency starter fund usually is £1000.

Students often have fluctuating income, in my case, I make the same amount during the school year barring exam season when I take time off to dedicate completely towards studying. My peak months are during Christmas break when its very busy at my job and I pick up extra shifts and, in the summer, when I pretty much work full time. Week to week it is different, and so it can be difficult to budget your money. The way I tend to go is listing out the amount I made in each month of last year, then take the average of the three slowest months (except exam season when I make nothing) and I use that as a baseline of what I will generally get in a particular month.

On the 28th of each month, I review my finances. I fill in my Excel trackers and make my pie charts and work out total income and expenses. This gives me a good picture of my month. I also write in my planner when I am expecting to be paid so I can chase up any missing money as quickly as I can. If you are the type to spend money as soon as you get it, get separate accounts for daily spending and savings. Set transfers into savings on direct debit so you don’t forget to do it, pay yourself first before you pay anyone else.

Write down your grocery list to stop impulsive shopping. It is so easy to buy unnecessary food when shopping if you are hungry and this also contributes to food waste. I plan out what meals and snacks I want to have so I am not stuck for ideas of what to make but then a fridge full of food that you don’t eat. I shop at the larger branches of supermarkets where the prices tend to be cheaper as well. Unsubscribe from newsletters that are advertising sales, without them, you won’t be tempted to spend money on something you are feeling lukewarm about.

To stay focused on my money goals, I write them down. I write down a specific amount I want saved in a particular time frame and how I am going to get there. For example, I want to save £1000 in 3 months, so I need to save £84 a week so that means I will work on Sundays at my retail job and tutor 4-5 students during the week to cover some bills as well. A concrete plan is easier to stick to than making it up on the fly. I keep finance ideas and goals on a page on my Notion which is an amazing free tool for basically organising your life. You can also customise it with free templates.

Finding out your money personality using online quizzes is super helpful, are you a spender or saver? Does money make you excited or anxious? Do you prefer to spend money on practical things or fun experiences? Understanding how you view money can improve your relationship with it. Sign up for apps like UniDays that have student discounts on thousands of retailers. You just need a valid student email to create an account.

I find planning and reviewing big purchases so tedious but vital. Have somewhere that you keep all your important financial documents. Something I always have to dig up to find is my DBS background check certificate so having dedicated spaces for payslips, receipts, letters, bank statements and bills helps to keep organised. Sometimes you need to prove your identity with some of these important documents so keep them safe.

Buying second-hand items like clothes on Depop, Vinted or ThredUp and furniture on Facebook Marketplace will save you a lot of money. I just recently bought a new bookshelf from there. Start slowly investing even if is a little each month. Caution with this, I wouldn’t recommend investing if you don’t know what you are doing and haven’t done your own research. I’m not talking Wolf of Wall Street or cryptocurrency energy, look into setting up an ISA (type of account that has tax advantages) for saving and investing.

Sinking funds are a genius thing to do when savings for annual expenses like Christmas or birthdays. Just decide how much you want to save for that occasion and work out how much you need to save each month, so your budget isn’t feeling too tight around that time of year.

Me and overdraft are not friends, we do not talk. Dipping into your overdraft can give you a lot of stress and you may be unable to repay it with an unstable income. Always remember that even the student interest free overdrafts have fixed terms and after that has run out (ie graduating) you are being charged interest.

Hopefully this eased some of your worries around student finances!

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