Magoosh GRE

Get the Most Out of Your Money at Uni

| February 3, 2015

Everyone knows that being a student can be tough on your wallet. With course fees, rent, bills, food, textbooks, drinks, travel – the list of expenses goes on and on.

Many of you will also be slaving over bars or tables working part-time jobs to help fund your studies, but that isn’t always enough. Fortunately there are several things you can do to cut the costs of living and even save some money in the process! Today we go over the things you can do to get the most out of your money at Uni…

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Budget
Yes, it’s boring, but if you’re going to live on the money you’ve got, and afford a social life too, you need to learn to budget. Make a weekly or monthly budget and stick to it. Try using an online student budget calculator, such as the one on the Ucas website, which allows you to key in all your income and outgoings.

  • Prevent impulse buys in the supermarket by making a shopping list – and sticking to it.
  • Cook in bulk and freeze. This way nothing gets wasted, it works out a lot cheaper and you always have a back-up plan when the cupboards are bare
  • Before you buy something, ask yourself: Do I really need it? Can I afford it? Can I get it cheaper elsewhere? If any one answer is no, think again.

Have Fun!

Being sociable doesn’t have to be expensive – think nights in with housemates, free events at your union or two-for-one cinema nights. From freshers’ week to club subs, student nights, gigs, fancy dress, sport or a quick catch-up with friends at the union – the cost of socialising can soon mount up. Try and allocate yourself so much a week during term time for ‘entertainment’.

Websites such as NUS Extra, Student Beans and Urban Tribe offer deals on cheap days and nights out including theme park visits, cinema and theatre trips and eating out.

Save money on your Travel

Whether it’s a bus to lectures or travelling back home for the holidays, you’ll need to factor in travel costs. To help, there are student travel cards out there to help you reduce the costs of getting around by as much as a third:

  • 16-25 Railcard – £28 a year for a third off rail fares.
  • 18+ Student Oyster Photocard – pay a £10 admin fee for 30% off London travelcard costs.
  • Young Persons Coachcard – £10 a year (plus £1.50 p&p) for a third off coach fares.

Or take the bus – check Megabus for low-cost deals.

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Don’t pay tax
Students in the UK are liable for income tax and national insurance contributions (NICs) on their earnings, like everyone else. If you work for an employer during the term, you’ll pay income tax if you earn over a certain amount – £8,105 for the tax year 2012-13. You’ll also pay NICs if you earn over £146 a week. But if you are a full-time student and only work in the holidays and your total income for the year is below the £8,105 personal allowance, you won’t need to pay tax through PAYE provided you fill out form P38(S), available from your employer. Any grant you get, as well as most scholarships and bursaries, are non-taxable so you can get any or all of them and still keep your full personal allowance.

If you work, don’t let your employer take you for a ride
Make sure you are being paid the minimum wage. There are different levels of national minimum wage – the current rate for those aged 18 to 20 is £4.98. For those aged 21 or over it’s £6.08, rising to £6.19 on 1 October, and the rate for 16- and 17-year-olds is £3.68

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Category: Articles & Advice