Becoming financially independent for the first time as you start university can feel like a huge step – but it definitely doesn’t have to be something to fear.
So to help you spend a little smarter, our Student Money Advice Manager Lynne Condell shares her top tips on how to make your pound stretch that little bit further this semester.
1. Budget brilliantly
Creating a budget is the first and most important step towards financial security at university. Until you do this, you may not even know exactly how much money you have. Whether you choose to plan your spending through a trusty spreadsheet or a student budgeting app such as Blackbullion – the main goal is to be clear on your definite incomings and essential outgoings. Once you’ve assessed these you can work out exactly how much you have left for your food shop, nights out or phone bill.
2. Travel smarter
As a student in Liverpool, you’ll probably find yourself walking more than ever to cut down on costs. But when it comes to visiting friends and family in other cities, travel can be an expensive business. Planning is key here as last-minute train tickets are always expensive. Look for cheap train tickets by splitting your journey. Keep an eye out for student discounts on bus passes and coach tickets or if you often travel by train, investing in a student railcard could save you up to a third on journeys.
3. Take advantage of student discounts
As you’re probably aware, being a student makes you eligible for a huge amount of discounts and perhaps even some freebies too (hurrah!). Purchasing an NUS card or signing up to websites such as UNiDAYS will open the gates to hundreds of helpful offers and deals. But discount shop with caution! Remember discount vouchers are intended to encourage you to buy things in the first place. It’s important to only make purchases you can afford, rather than falling down the trap of overspending on too many tempting offers at once. Don’t forget to check out all of the cheap or free things the University offers too.
4. Seek out additional income
Keep a lookout for seasonal work such as Christmas temp posts or even for potential roles within the University that may pay, such as becoming a Student Advocate or working at the Student Union. Find out more about working part-time while at uni.
5. Avoid the blowout
As tempting as it can be to hit the high street as soon as your student funding lands in your bank, you probably won’t thank yourself for this later. Refer back to your budget plan and ask, can you honestly afford that new pair of trainers? Can you justify another meal out? Spending too much of your money too quickly has the potential to leave you in a sticky situation later on, so try to spread out your spending and avoid those impulse purchases.
6. Switch up your shopping habits
You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference some small changes can make to your bank balance. That daily coffee on the way to lectures may seem like a tiny expense, but remember that everything adds up. Your weekly food shop is a great place to save money. Make a list, plan some meals in advance and shop once per week if you can. Switching from your usual branded favourites to supermarket value items will see you make some big savings without necessarily compromising on quality. Fruit and vegetable markets are also a great place to pick up fresh, locally-sourced products on the cheap. When it comes to revamping your wardrobe, have a rummage around the many charity and vintage shops Liverpool offers or organise a clothes swap in your halls and see if you can make a stylish saving.
7. Save when you can
Being a student can throw up all kinds of unexpected costs. That textbook you forgot to buy, an unexpectedly expensive heating bill or replacing the house kettle that’s mysteriously broken… That’s why it’s good to try and put a little money aside here and there for any surprise outgoings. Open a savings account and save a small amount each month or term, or even try something a little more old school and throw your loose change into a trusty piggy bank. Every little helps, after all.
8. Find a happy medium
It’s important not to let yourself become consumed by financial worries or set yourself too many unrealistic limitations. University is ultimately a time for you to learn and have fun, so the occasional splurge is often inevitable (and well deserved) after all of your hard work. It’s all about balance!
Here at LJMU we know that money matters which is why we’re here for our students every step of the way when it comes to financial help and guidance. As well as having our own specially-trained staff within Student Advice and Wellbeing Services, we’re also proud to work in direct partnership with Blackbullion, where students can access a huge range of online planning tools and helpful resources. You may also be eligible for a scholarship or bursary to help with your finances, so don’t forget to explore this as an option too.
For more advice or to book a Wealth Check with us, contact a member of our team: