Student Budgeting Tips

Your finances won’t look after themselves; here’s what you need to do to keep them in a decent state

Feature by The Skinny | 11 Sep 2018

Keep yourself informed
Money Dashboard, Monzo, just actually reading your bank statements for a change – the easiest way to stop yourself from getting into financial difficulty is to pay attention to your finances. Keep track of what you’re spending, and when; if you can't engineer a situation where all your main bills come out on the same day, set regular email and calendar reminders for a few days ahead of rent day to give future you a bit of a heads-up.

Shop around
Once you move out of halls and into a ‘real’ flat, if you’re directly paying for utilities like gas and electricity then you’re legally entitled to pick whichever suppliers you want. Use comparison sites like uSwitch and MoneySuperMarket to find a cheap deal, and combine that with a cashback site like Quidco to get cash in you and your flatmates’ pockets as a thanks for saving yourselves some scratch.

Save your spare change
One easy way to do this is to physically put it away; one of our staff has a giant ornamental boot for all their small change, and regularly saves enough to pay for actual things. You can also use an app like Chip, which regularly checks your spending habits, calculates how much you can afford to save, then stashes it away on your behalf.

Get your money back
Got a part-time job? There’s a fairly high chance that, particularly during the holidays and times you work more than usual, you’ll pay a little bit more tax than you really should. Keep hold of your payslips, and get your request for a tax refund in with HMRC as soon as you can, particularly if we’re talking about big sums. If you’re consistently paying too much tax, your employer is probably doing a bad job of filing your paperwork – stay on their case until it’s fixed.

Wave your student card about
Seriously, in any and every circumstance, just mention that you’re a student and see what happens. Sometimes it’s a few pence off a coffee, but in others, you can save healthy chunks of cash. Never hurts to ask...

Ask for help
And speaking of asking, if you’re struggling – either with not feeling up to looking after your money or simply not having enough of it – your university has facilities that can help you out. Hardship funds and discretionary payments are available from each of Scotland’s universities, but you’ll need to take the initiative to get in touch. Here’s where the ‘keeping track’ from earlier comes in handy, as in most cases you will need to offer proof of your finances to be eligible.

We’ve distilled this advice down from the recommendations of EUSA, DUSA and the University of Glasgow’s SRC; contact your student union for in-depth advice and assistance