Managing your money
Before you get too excited about thinking of all the ways you are going to spend that grant or loan in your first term, you have to think about the essentials first! It may seem like a lot of money, but as the year goes on, your outgoings may far outweigh your income.
This article will help you figure out how to balance the books in your favour so you can enjoy stress free studies as far as possible. Here are the main things to consider.
Your outgoings or expenditure
- Course materials. Stationery such as notebooks and pens - and depending on your course - books, art materials, tools, lab coats, stethoscopes, cameras, recording equipment, musical instruments...the list goes on.
- Computer or laptop. You could cut costs by using the computers available at college or university, but if buying one make sure that you budget for it.
- Transport. Train or bus fares, if you live far off campus. Or weekend visits to family.
- Food. Also toiletries and household goods.
- Entertainment. Big nights out, concerts, weekends away - budget in advance for these.
- Household expenses. If you live in private rented accommodation, you'll pay gas, electricity, TV, broadband and phone bills. You are liable to pay council tax too, if you share with non-students.
- Contents insurance. Computers, laptops and musical instruments can be expensive to replace in the event of fire or theft. Check if your parents' or family's insurance policy can cover your belongings first.
- Debt repayments. Credit cards, store cards, bank loans.
- Mobile phone. The latest phones are trendy and tempting, but consider what you really need in terms of minutes, texts and data and then compare monthly contract and SIM only deals.
- Sundry costs. This can include printing and photocopying costs at the library (try to avoid overdue book fines). You might also have to go on field trips or work experience placements. Regular purchases on personal items such as toiletries and clothing all add up.
- Tuition fees. Unless you are responsible for paying these, the Students Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) will pay tuition fees direct to your institution.
- SAAS living expenses grant or loan. If you are eligible, this is a non-repayable grant, or a repayable loan, and takes into account travel expenses.
- Money from parents or family.
- Job income. You might also get tax credits while you work.
- Grant, bursaries or scholarships you have applied for. Also living or hardship funds from your college that you can apply for.
You definitely need budget spreadsheets or online calculators for planning your money. Some are listed in the resources at the end of this article.
Tips on being smarter with your money
Student Discounts - these are usually cards that will give you a percentage off the full price for being a student. The main ones are;
- NUS student card (National Union of Students). For a £12, £22 or £32 fee (valid for one, two or three years), you can save 10% on many big name retailers.
- Young Scot card offers discounts on travel, clothing and books amongst others.
- 16-25 rail card offers anyone aged 16 to 25, or over 25 and in full time study, a third off rail travel fares.
- Online student discount codes. Many websites offer exclusive student discounts for all sorts of products and services.
Student bank accounts. Many major banks offer excellent student accounts with interest free overdrafts between £1,000 to £3,000 a year, depending on your year of study.
Transport. Walking or cycling to campus would not only save you money but improve your overall fitness too!
Book expenses. Wherever possible borrow from the library rather than buy course books. You should try to get the books on your reading list as soon as you have it, to avoid the rush by other students. If you need to buy, colleges and universities offer second hand book sale events.
Student Money Advisers are on hand at your college or university if you need to discuss money worries or budgeting strategies.
Debt upon graduation needs to be considered before taking on extra student loans. You should know if you are able to make the monthly repayments once you leave your course.
UCAS Online Budget Calculator
Which? University - Student finance
The Complete University Guide - Student budget sheet
The Student Room: Student Discounts
NUS (National Union of Students)
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