Freshers Finances: top tips on managing your money when starting university

Ban Mahsoub, Spend and Save spokesperson for Tesco Bank

Starting university is an exciting time, partly because it means starting to lead an independent life. However, with all the fun and freedom of Uni life, so too comes responsibility including cleaning, cooking, and budgeting! For many, this will be the first time they receive and then manage larger sums of money such as student loans. 

Ban Mahsoub, Spend and Save spokesperson for Tesco Bank, shares her top money tips for students starting out.

1.   Know your income

If you receive any loans, grants, or bursaries to help fund university, they tend to get paid in lump sum instalments throughout the year. This may seem like a lot of money to receive in one go and it’s important to make sure you budget so it lasts across the term. Don’t forget you’ll have essential outgoings to factor in first, such as rent, bills, insurance, food and study materials, before you spend on non-essential items like going out or new clothes. Once you’ve got your essential expenses laid out, work out how much you’ll have left and split it into a weekly budget, this will help you live within your means and avoid you going overboard at the start of the month, then finding yourself penniless at the end. It’s also worth factoring in making regular contributions to an emergency savings pot in case of any unforeseen expenses, such as theft, bills, or travel.

2.   Make use of loyalty points

Many brands offer customer loyalty schemes when you shop with them meaning you gain points as you shop. Some also offer exclusive discounts to help with your weekly shop. There are many different ones available from a wide range of retailers. Tesco Clubcard Pay+, for example, comes with a debit card you can load money onto so that you can ringfence your groceries budget. The card can be used anywhere that accepts visa debit cards, and you collect some Clubcard points wherever you spend.

3.   You’re a student, take advantage! 

When the money starts leaving your account for accommodation, food and the like, it can be easy to forget that being a student does have its perks. There are lots of student discounts available, so make sure you’re checking what’s around for you to take advantage of. From Spotify and Apple music through to UNiDAYS and Student Beans, keep an eye out for discounts, deals or extra points you can gain on your purchases. Signing up is often free and you can get some good discounts on everyday purchases.

4.   Stay insured

Going to Uni will probably mean heading off with all the necessary tech and gadgets, from a laptop, tablet, phone, speakers, or even a bike for getting around campus.  Insuring your items will offer peace of mind that you’re covered in case of any thefts or accidental damages. It might seem like an added expense you can do without, but if the worst were to happen your excess cover will be considerably lower than buying everything all over again.

5.   Be aware of your overdraft

Many banks may offer student accounts which come with attractive offers, such as a student railcard. Some banks offer a ‘free’ overdraft which effectively allows you to spend more money than you have with no fees or charges incurred. However, it’s important to be aware of your overdraft limit so you don’t accidentally go over it. Be aware though that this is not free money and if you go into your overdraft you’ll need to pay it back eventually! It’s a good habit to try and stay out of your overdraft altogether if you can.

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