The ability to manage one’s personal finances has become an increasingly important skill in today’s world. One key to financial success as an adult is living within your means, which begins with being aware of how you spend your money and saving where possible.  Making ends meet as a student has its challenges as we’re limited to student loans or bursaries to sustain our daily needs which is why financial literacy, making informed and effective decisions about your finances, is crucial in maintaining a healthy financial status. How do I start? With the basics. This is a short guide on making small adjustments to your daily spending habits that will help you keep track of your finances as a student.

  1. Needs over luxuries

Whether you’re receiving an allowance, or you’ve taken out a student loan, make the most of what you have. This starts with having a clear budget. Sit down and make a list of all your expenses for the month, making note of what’s necessary and what can be regarded as a luxury. Prioritize your basic needs and allocate a specific amount of money to category – toiletries, groceries, entertainment. It may seem like a tedious task if you’re not into numbers, which is why apps like Monzo etc come in handy. Budgeting will help you see where you are overspending, where you can cut costs and have that extra bit of money to save.

  1. I’ll grab a sandwich later

Eating out, even something as small as a sandwich every day accumulates into unnecessary expenses that can be curbed when you develop the habit of preparing your own meal. There’s always a valid excuse for grabbing a takeaway – ‘class ended late at night’, ‘there’s an assignment to do’, ‘the deadline is tomorrow’ and in no time the year has already whizzed by and you still haven’t saved a pound. If you’re a resident at International Students House, don’t miss the free breakfast! Plan your meals in advance when you are working on your budget so you can stay within your personal limits. And if you’re utterly helpless in the kitchen, make friends who can whip up a decent meal and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Maybe in the next article, we’ll look at cheap and easy meals for the busy student?

  1. Yes, I’ve got my Uni card

From transport, food to tech, flashing your student card can get you discounts across the UK. Before you make your next purchase, check if there’s a student discount being offered, and start saving your pounds. Sites like Unidays are free to use and give students a range of ongoing discounts. Some offers include 10% off at ASOS, 35% off at Dominos, 12% discount on 16-25 Railcard, £10 off Papa Johns, 15% off at National Express tickets and 35% off at HP.

  1. Buy second-hand books

Unless your professor is being a little nit-picky and insisting that you have to buy the latest version of a particular textbook, stick to second-hand books. If you’re really on a save drive, you will have to get over shiny new books – remember why you’re doing this! Amazon has an option for you to select ‘Used’ when buying products which almost always dramatically reduces the price. You could also try sifting your way through second-hand books shops or charity shops – ones near your university often receive a heap of uni textbooks at the end of the term. Also, ask previous students – a quick Facebook post or email to the department will get you in touch with those keen to offload their books for some easy cash. And when your turn comes, target the newbies and make an offer for your textbooks.

  1. Walk away from the SALE stickers

As Kenny Rogers sang, ‘Know when to walk away, and know when to run.’ This applies to sales. Don’t get trapped in the ‘but it’s a sale’ syndrome. If you can live without it, then walk away.

  1. Get stepping

Ditch the bus and the tube whenever you can and take a walk. Not only will this save you unnecessary transport costs, but it’ll help you get fit as well. We spend the most part of our days of hunched over laptops screens, consuming endless cups of coffee with little effort in exercising. Take new routes to university and clear your mind while you explore London on foot.

7. How do you take your coffee?

Disposable or reusable? You don’t have to be a tree hugger but either take ten minutes to enjoy your coffee in-situ or take a reusable cup with you when you want a hot drink. There is no shortage of stylish, practical alternatives to the paper cup. Our resident bar, The Thirsty Scholar has a variety of reusable cups available, and every time you bring it in, you get 30p off every coffee purchase!

These tips are meant to just get you started on your financial journey. Through practice, diligence and patience, you will develop a financial maturity that will equip you with skills that for life.

Have you ever considered gaining work experience or supplementing your student budget through a part-time job, vacation placement or internship? Don’t worry you’re one of many! Studies have established that more than 50% of students are enrolled in full-time degree programmes have part-time jobs. Reasons vary from the financial pressure of student loans or in order to maintain the standard of living before committing to full-time studies to some students who are actively seeking to develop themselves and gaining work experience. Employers today are increasingly interested in specific attributes and behaviours from university graduates; skills that are developed by through a combination of academic accomplishments and work experience. While universities have adapted their curricula to provide opportunities for practical learning, through placements or internships, some students proactively engage in part-time employment to develop soft and transferable skills such as time management and teamwork. Most international students enrolled in full-time programmes are allowed to work part-time during term time for up to 20 hours a week and full-time during the holidays. This article unpacks the realities of taking up a part-time job which will require you to step up your time management skills to find a balance between the books and the job.

What do I need to know? 

Before you start combing through job sites, you need to be aware of the restrictions of your visa. If you’re on a Tier 4 Visa, you have limited working rights in the UK and the visa states the number of hours you are permitted to work per week. These hours include any paid or unpaid work, voluntary services or internship. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but the recommended 20 hours ensure that your studies are not affected by your side hustle – if you manage your time well that is. Keep in mind that your priority is your degree! The second thing to note is that even if you’re not a UK citizen you will at some point need to pay tax and make National Insurance contributions, so most employers will require that you have a National Insurance number before you start working, although you can start with a temporary one as you wait on your application for one.

 

Keep a calendar – on your wall, on your phone, on your desk

How do I find the balance? 

Taking up a part-time job will require effective time management – every minute counts. While there is no perfect formula for balancing your studies and a part-time job, there are a few adjustments you can make to ensure that you are able to deliver the best at both.

  • Don’t procrastinate. If you pile up your readings and assignments to the last minute, you will find yourself pulling unnecessary all-nighters and compromising the quality of your work. The key to optimizing your time is making a schedule and sticking to it. Whether its an app on your phone or a calendar on your wall, keep a schedule of all the important dates and deadlines.
  • Be honest. Your employer knows you are a student and that your studies are the main priority, so be sure to communicate your availability and ask for time off when you need to put more hours in your books. Be honest with yourself about how much work you can take and take stock of how you are managing your time.
  • Avoid multi-tasking. When you’re in the library, focus on your reading or writing and when you’re at work, concentrate on the job. Multi-tasking will only affect the quality of your work and leave you feeling burnt-out and stressed because you constantly feel busy.
  • Don’t over commit. The 20-hour provision is the maximum, but if you need to dedicate more time to your studies, it’s okay to take on less work. Take on a workload that you can manage.

Finding the balance between your studies and a part-time job is challenging, but not impossible. It requires dedication, sacrifice and strategic use of every minute and if you put in the work, you can succeed.

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