We know that student finance isn’t the most exciting of topics, but having to manage your money is something that affects almost every student. It is good to know early on how to prepare for budgeting as a student.
We spoke to some of our current students to find out about their experiences (including mistakes and blunders) managing their student finance and their top tips for prospective students for applying for student finance and managing their money whilst they are studying.
Making up our panel are:
- Jess is a third year, BSc(Hons) Biomedical Science student. She is living away from home in private, rented accommodation. She currently has a part-time job as a student ambassador at the University and has previously worked as a waitress at Manchester City and Manchester United.
- Rejoice, a third year psychology student, who is living at home whilst she is studying. She’s worked in part-time retail jobs whilst she has been studying.
- Sam who is currently in his 4th year of BA(Hons) Business, last year he undertook a sandwich (work placement) year working for Hays Recruitment. He is living at home whilst he is studying.
- And Chloe, a first year BSc(Hons) Ecology and Conservation student. Chloe is living in private halls. She currently has a part time job as a student ambassador.
What challenges have you had managing your finances as a student?
During my studies, I have found it hard to keep track of money and keep to a budget, as it was my first real experience of having an income and the excitement of having lots to spend was incredible. I found that I spent a lot more money than perhaps I should have on nights out.
It seems like a large amount of money, so you don’t bother to budget, which is a bad idea because you actually have to use it sensibly e.g budget/transport/food/supplies/rent as soon as you get your loan then you can do what you like with the rest knowing that all necessary expenses are covered.
The biggest financial challenge I have encountered during my time at university is having to pay a deposit for my second year home which I had not planned for. In order to secure the accommodation I wanted for my second year of study, I had to pay a large deposit which I wouldn’t have been able to afford if it weren’t for my 0% interest student overdraft. It is worth bearing in mind that you are likely to have to pay a deposit for your second year home during your first year and you should therefore try to budget for it in advance.
How are you able to manage your time between working at a part-time job and studying?
My course is great in the fact that it is quite flexible. During all 3 years of the course, I have had at least 1 day off per week that I have been able to work. I am also able to work at the weekends, provided I have spent enough time on uni work during the weekday evenings. To help me manage my time, I create a monthly timetable to organise work, Uni and extra-curricular activities as well as those all-important trips home.
I believe that saying no to extra shifts/hours while working is important as this can encroach on possible study days and time in university. It may be difficult to do so but your studies should be always be your focus.
I use an online calendar that is synced to my phone and computer to help keep me keep organised, I downloaded my course timetable onto my calendar and add all other work commitments, extracurricular activities and social events. This way I can plan the week ahead and ensure that I have enough time reserved for study.
It is hard but prioritise your study! But remember, You are paying a lot of money for your degree and you do not want to pay 27,000 for a 3rd class degree that you’re not going to get use.
Did you find applying for student finance difficult? If so, why?
I did not find student finance difficult to apply for however I would advise prospective applicants to follow every instruction carefully and always submit your application before important deadlines, which can change year on year.
What do you know now about student finance that you wish you had known when you were first applying for your student finance?
That if you submit late, you will get the money late! You do not want to get to October still without your finance, apply as soon as you can!
Do you find living in Manchester as a student expensive?
I find that if you are living with others, Manchester is a very affordable place to live. Accommodation is relatively cheap compared with other cities and the nightlife is very affordable even on a student budget. Transport in Manchester is quite cheap and you can walk almost everywhere you need to go.
I find Manchester a very affordable place to live, there are countless shops, cafes, restaurants and gyms that offer student discounts, the public transport is cheap (although the city centre is compact and you can walk to most places!).
What are your top tips for saving money as a student?
Make a list of what you need before you go our shopping, don’t just decide when you get there or you will come back with silly things that you don’t need. When it comes to your money it’s better to be more conservative than liberal!!
Take advantage of money saving offers that you may find online or at university/the students union in places such as fresher’s fair and always ask yourself the following questions when buying something; do I really need this? How will this benefit me? Can I afford this? Is there an alternative?
Plan your weekly meals so that you do not waste food. Make lunches to take with you instead of buying it every day and buy in bulk with housemates for things like washing powder; washing up liquid, toilet roll as this will save a lot of money.
So there you have it, we think our students have imparted a lot of very useful advice. Our own top tip is to apply for student finance as early as you can and remember you do not need to have university offers to make an application, you just need to select a preferred university and course. If this changes at a later stage, you can log into your student finance application and change this.
There’s lots more useful advice on all things money related, including information on our Academic Achievement Bursary and Student Support Package on our Money Matters web pages.