Starting uni is many people’s first solo adventure in life. You could make new friends, have lots of new experiences, and lay the groundwork for your dream career. To get the most from the experience, it helps to have a good idea of how much it’ll cost and how you can boost your bank balance by cutting unnecessary spending.
University is expensive, but it has some financial advantages, too. You could have lots of options at the freshers’ fair, as banks fight to earn your business. You may be offered current accounts with interest-free overdrafts, or free railcards, gift vouchers and more.
Interest-free student overdrafts can sometimes be helpful because they give you an ongoing form of finance without additional charges. It’s important to understand what your overdraft limit is and any terms and conditions that may apply, especially in the event that you go over your limit. To learn more about boosting your score, check out our guide on how to improve your credit rating.
Managing your money at university is really important, so take advantage of every student deal and discount you can.
Travel discounts. A 16–25 Railcard currently costs £30 per year but saves you a third on all rail journeys. If you’re in London, you can pay a £10 fee for an 18+ Student Oyster Photocard, which will get you 30% off the price of adult-rate Travelcards.
Food. According to SavetheStudent.org, the average student in 2017 spent £126 per month on food, around 15% of their total monthly outgoings. Unlike rent, food is something you can cut costs on by changing your buying habits. Replace pricey ready meals with home-cooked food. To save time, cook lots in one go and freeze individual meals to eat throughout the week.
Utility bills. Sometimes utilities are included in your rent, but in private housing you might have the freedom to find a better deal. Find out if you can cut your electricity, gas, water and internet bills by comparing suppliers on multiple price comparison sites.
While there are fancy ways to track what you spend, like itemising transactions using a student budget app, the simplest and easiest approach is to add up all the money you have coming in each month and then take away all the money that goes out.
The trick to doing this right is making sure no small costs are missed, like online subscriptions and off-the-cuff food purchases. Once you’ve worked it out, you’ll have a good idea of how much is left over to spend on things like clothes, entertainment and nights out, which means you won’t dread checking your bank balance at the end of the month.