Coming to a new country where you are learning to be independent for the first time can be extremely daunting. However, the key to making sure you are financially secure is to take time to learn how things work in the UK. Here are some of my top tips relating to money matters, like setting up your bank account and budgeting as a student!
Opening a bank account:
When I first came to York, I was very confused about opening a bank account on my own. However, after talking to a couple of people and surveying my options, I picked the perfect bank.
When setting up an account think about things like whether your parent’s bank has a branch in York or the application process you’d like most.
This need not be very complicated and the university can help you with this. On the University of York website, you will find a list of banks in York that you can look through. This can also help you to set up an account before you arrive if you need your debit card immediately.
However, keep in mind that most banks ask for your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) which you will only receive once in York. You may also need your passport, offer letter and university letter, which you can apply for through your e:vision account. Depending on which bank you choose, you may have to visit the bank in the city to finish your application. Banks like Barclays and Starling, however, have an entirely online application if you want to skip that.
Remember that opening an account can take time and it’s important to be patient with the process. Therefore, make sure you have enough cash with you when you first arrive or an international card. Note international cards may not always work for some transactions in certain shops or websites.
Other money matters – spending and saving:
Once you get your bank account set up, you are now free to spend anywhere. As a new student, you will want to experience everything York has to offer, but if you’re not careful, you could spend more than you intended.
Things in York may be expensive compared to prices in your home country, yet there are ways to spend effectively. You can perhaps, get your groceries from places like Lidl, Morrisons, or Aldi, which are much cheaper alternatives to the Nisa store on campus. It is a bit further out of campus but a once a week trip to fill up on groceries is worth it.
As someone who spends a lot on food and travel, using apps like Unidays can be a real help to find student discounts in different shops and restaurants. Many places in York also put up signs offering a student discount, which can be very helpful.
Another beneficial tip to avoid spending too much is to use reusable bags to carry your shopping in. Almost all shops here charge for a plastic bag so it can be handy to have your own with you. Because of the pandemic you might also find yourself spending a lot on masks which can easily be avoided by getting reusable masks that you can wash and wear again.
Your university student status can also help you if you are someone who orders a lot off of Amazon; you can make use of a discounted Amazon Prime subscription, with the first six months free. Travelling around York using the First Bus app to get tickets for £1 is also very useful.
One of the most helpful ways I budget as a student is by tracking my expenses on an excel sheet. This way you can monitor what you spend on regularly and things you can cut down on as well.
Enjoy your university experience:
Above all, while it is easy to get wrapped up in money matters, allow yourself to enjoy your university life and feel free to treat yourself when you need it. Remember to remain calm throughout the initial process of setting up your life here in York and ask for help with money matters whenever you need it through the international support team here at the university.