Uni Money Issues And Budgeting Tips
The number one fear that people have about University seems to be the cost. With the rise in tuition fees to £9,000 and added costs of accommodation fees, buying food, books, travel, social activities etc it is very costly, I’m not going to lie. Personally, I didn’t realise how much money I would need for my first year of University on top of tuition and accommodation fees – which I don’t think people talk about enough! I don’t want to scare any of you from going to University, because I definitely think that your degree and the university experience outweighs the costs. However, it is best to be prepared so I have some money tips for those who will be starting University in October.
Get a summer job if you can and start saving! Your finance circumstances will depend on you personally, if your parents can help you with money and how much you will receive for your maintenance loan. Hopefully for most of you, your maintenance loan will cover both your accommodation fees and your general costs throughout the year. For myself, my maintenance loan only covered my accommodation fees so I was left to fund everything else myself.
Until you get to Uni, you won’t realise how many little things require money and I was in serious shock in first term when my money would go flying out of my bank account. Term 1 in particular will be the most expensive because you’ll spend loads of money on SU events and nights out in order to socialise and make friends – which I think is worth it! Although try to be prepared for it, so save up some money from your current summer job if you’ll be funding everything yourself. From what I can remember, I reckon I spent roughly £800-£1000 in Term 1. For some people it will be a lot less and for others it will be a lot more, it all depends on the person. Term 2 I probably spent around £500-£600 and in Term 3 I spent only £300 because I spent most of the term revising.
Some things that your money will go towards:
– Student Union night events
– Club nights out (including buses/taxis there and back, your entry ticket, drinks, food)
– Weekly food shop (go to Tesco as it is cheaper than the campus grocery store)
– Buses and trains to travel to places (home, friends at other uni’s, Coventry or Leamington Spa on the weekends)
– Societies (memberships, events, nights out)
– Sports and Gym (membership particularly in Term 1)
– Books and study resources (e.g. printer)
– Bedroom and kitchen things you may have forgotten to buy (in Term 1)
– Eating out
– Random things (clothes, shoes, makeup etc)
– Birthday/Christmas presents
and more! Loads of little things will add up and then you’ll look at your bank statement and be shocked… However, don’t be scared, just be as prepared as you can. The amount you spend will entirely depend on you, your flat mates, your course mates, the type of person you are and the type of people you meet, your course, your likes and dislikes. So take it as it comes, just aim to save up some money over summer for Term 1 because that will definitely be the most expensive term. Once you’ve paid for society and gym memberships in Term 1, you won’t need to pay for them again for the whole year. Also, don’t be held back by doing certain things because of money. Of course you have to budget, but I remember not being too keen on going to the SU events during freshers because I knew I wouldn’t like the music and I thought it would be a waste of money. However, the majority of my flat mates were going to all of the events so I bought most of the tickets and I’m so glad that I did. Even though I didn’t enjoy the music, it allowed me and my flat mates to get to know each other during freshers and I didn’t feel left out. Throughout the rest of Term 1, I kept an eye on my money and spent money on nights out and events to allow myself to get close to my flat mates and course mates, and essentially make friends. Nights out aren’t the key to socialising however, you can also spend money on going to Leamington Spa to eat out for dinner or going to the cinema – Term 1 is the best time to have the most fun and go crazy.
In terms of budgeting, here are my best tips:
1. Wait for book sales within your department instead of buying recommended textbooks straight away, as 2nd year students will probably be selling the recommended textbooks in the second or third week of Term 1.
2. Don’t buy every single recommend textbook (this depends on your course, but for Psychology, your exams will most probably be based on lecture content only, therefore recommended textbooks will only provide extra knowledge and added help which is not essential since the first year does not count towards your degree).
3. Buy alcohol with flat/course mates to save money and then share the alcohol equally.
4. Buy Uni Express tickets for nights out, especially for Leamington Spa clubs (Smack and Neon) as is it cheaper altogether than paying for taxis and entry tickets separately.
5. Don’t buy crazy amounts of fresh food as it will likely go off or go out of date.
6. Get a Santander Student Bank Account as it comes with the benefit of a free railcard, which will save you a 1/3 on your train tickets (or buy a railcard).
7. Purchase your train tickets in advance as it is normally cheaper.
8. For some places, if you get an open return ticket (a ticket there and back) on trainline.com it only costs an extra £1 or less for the added return ticket. For example, to get a one way ticket from Leamington Spa to Gerrards Cross it is £23.90, whereas an open return ticket (a ticket there and back) is £24.00 – only 10p extra for the return ticket! Also, open return tickets allow you to travel back on any day at any time within one month of purchase.
9. Try not to do any online shopping sprees – instead I kept a list of all the things that I wanted and gave it to people as my birthday/christmas list.
10. If you want decorative things for your bedroom (fairy lights, reed diffuser, lamp, pillows) maybe get your parents to buy them for you before you come to Uni…
11. Sign up to Warwick SONA and participate in experiments to earn money!
12. Download the Gett Taxi app (and tell your friends to do so also) and exchange your free ride codes so you can all get £5 credit – then take it in turns to book taxis but you’ll get £5 off overall each ride.
13. Apply for a Tesco clubcard to collect points and obtain money saving vouchers.
14. Constantly check out studentmoneysaver.co.uk
15. Whenever you shop somewhere or eat out, always ask if they offer student discount – also, get the unidays app!
That’s all the information that I have! To be honest, I could talk about money issues and budgeting for ages because I funded my entire first year (besides tuition and accommodation fees). If you’re in the same scenario as me and you’ll have to fund yourself, start working and saving this summer and then be prepared to work during Christmas and Easter too! Don’t worry at all though, you’ll be fine and there is plenty of support at Warwick in regards to funding and finance. If anyone has any other questions, then please feel free to leave them in the comments.