Coming to uni means you will have to juggle lots of different responsibilities – and perhaps the most important (and dullest) of those will be your finances. Financial trouble and money mismanagement can lead to a decline in your wellbeing and mental health. Therefore, it is so important that you budget effectively and keep on top of your finances.
There a several key things you will have to consider when it comes to budgeting. Perhaps the most important part is to work out exactly how much income you will have during your time at uni – this includes your student loan, any grants or bursaries you are eligible for, income from a part-time job, and any money you might get from your parents or guardian. Once you determine your income, it is essential that you calculate every outgoing expenditure you can think of. This helps to prepare you for any expenses you will have to cover whilst at uni. The main culprits are rent, bills and food. However, it is also important to budget for nights out and having fun – it is easy to be oblivious as these expenses rack up.
The stress of having to work whilst also being committed to your degree is often the root of a lot of stress and anxiety for students. The balance between working and studying is one many struggle with – so much so, universities such as The University of Cambridge deny students the chance to work whilst studying. Here at UEA, if you work for the student union, they advise you to not commit to any more than 15 hours to a job, helping you to maintain the correct work- study balance, helping to reduce any money related anxiety you might experience.
As a course representative, and now school convenor – it has come to my attention that lots of students consider how expensive modules will be before picking them. Especially for humanities subjects, students often must buy multiple books or contribute to the cost of printing dossiers for our modules. We can be spending up to £100 on materials for each module, despite already paying £9,250 per year to be here. This is a large expense that many students don’t budget for – and can lead to students finding themselves short on money.
Once you have accounted for the money you have to spend whilst at uni, it is important that you save. Download apps such as Unidays or buy an NUS card to receive discounts in high-street shops and restaurants. Another useful card to purchase is a 16-25 railcard, which helps you to save a third on your rail fare.
Once we turn 19, we are no longer able to receive free medical care. However, you can apply to the NHS Low Income Scheme. If you are accepted you can get prescriptions, tests at the opticians or dental appointments and treatments for free.
It is so important to see going to university as a place to be independent and have fun, however with independence comes responsibility, so be smart and savvy with your finances to help limit any anxiety or stress you may experience.