Let’s be honest, the prospect of money management at university is really daunting for many people. If you have anxieties about finances, don’t worry. My aim is to try and offer some ways to make this seemingly massive task a little more manageable.
Start as you mean to go on
Organise yourself early!
Preparing yourself before you’ve even started term helps you feel more confident about your spending once you arrive at university. You’ve got lots of other things on your mind – like trying not to get lost on the way to your lecture or working out how exactly the washing machines work.
Many students apply for student loans, for tuition fees, living costs, or both. Not all students are eligible for the same amount of loan, or feel they need one. But if you have or are thinking of applying, the loan is an excellent starting point for calculating your funds.
Remember: student loans cover one academic year at a time, so you’ll need to reapply in subsequent years if you want a new loan. Student loans for international students have different application processes to UK student loans. Research your options beforehand. If you’re not applying for a student loan, consider your expected income on a weekly basis, monthly basis or otherwise.
Check out the University’s accommodation pages for details on accommodation for your starting year. You might create a shortlist of accommodation you’re interested in so you can compare costs. It’s useful to compare your maintenance loan or equivalent with potential accommodation costs. If your accommodation costs look like they’ll exceed your personal finances, you might reconsider your accommodation choices.
Once you’ve worked out your annual income and potential outgoings, you can calculate a weekly budget. It’s really difficult to predict living costs before you’ve started university, and much easier to work out how much you could spend per week. Creating a budget will help to set you up mentally for money management at university.
Once you’re here
Review your budget
Take time to review your week’s spending in relation to the weekly budget you calculated for yourself. Don’t be alarmed if the first few weeks (even months) look really different – this is normal! You’ll still be settling in and working things out.
Get a job?
Lots of students decide to get jobs during their degree. There are many job opportunities for York’s students, with the University (such as blogging), our student union YUSU (York University Student Union), or external employers. Most employers understand that students have busy schedules so are willing to be flexible with shifts that suit you. Getting a job is great for your CV, but it’s also good to do something different from academic work!
Tips for saving on food
Think about where you’re shopping: supermarkets like Aldi, Lidl and Iceland are great for students on tight budgets. However, if you have dietary requirements, other shops might be a better option.
- Meal plans will help you make sure you don’t buy things you don’t need, and stick to your budget.
- Canned and frozen goods tend to be cheaper than fresh produce, although prices will vary between supermarkets so be sure to check before you buy! Cans and frozen food can also keep for longer, which will reduce the amount you spend on a weekly basis.
What to do if things go wrong
If you struggle with money management at university, don’t panic!
If you still feel like money is causing you serious stress, or even if it’s a background anxiety, there are people you can talk to at the University.
Get expert advice
The Student Hub is the primary place to go for advice – not just for financial issues! You can contact the Hub via email, live chat, over the phone, or visit their office on campus. They also have a link to a self-referral form on their webpage
Get an emergency loan
There are also emergency and hardship loans available to students. For more information, you can contact YUSU. The emergency loan applies to situations where student funding has been delayed, and the hardship loan to students in unexpected financial hardship. Hopefully you’ll never need these loans, but they’re here if you need them.
I hope you’ve found this blog useful! Thanks for sticking with me to the end. Good luck with your applications!