Managing money when you are studying is not easy. Student allowances and loans fall far short of covering student expenses and the short fall can be typically around $5-10,000 per year. The gap can be closed by taking a part time job, getting help from family, a bank overdraft, a low interest credit card and, in some cases, extra support from Studylink.
Careful money management is very important. Any income should first be allocated to financial commitments such as rent and shared flat expenses for food, power and phone. Next, set aside some income into a savings account to cover trips home, doctor and dentist bills, course costs and special occasions. Allow yourself a small amount each week for having fun and take this amount out in cash so you know exactly how much you have spent. The remaining amount of income can be used to pay for travel costs, clothing and extra food.
Here are some survival tips to help get you through the year:
- Check your bank account regularly to avoid charges for insufficient funds.
- Pay all your bills on time because if you fall behind, it will be hard to catch up.
- Don’t borrow money for non-essentials; use savings instead
- Have a flat account for rent and other shared expenses and appoint one person to make sure everyone’s payment goes in each week and to keep an eye on the balance
- Cut costs by using public transport and cooking your own meals
- Take out insurance for your personal possessions such as your computer and to protect you in the event that you accidentally cause damage to your flat
- Use the help and support that is available. Most banks have free online budgeting software and universities offer free financial advice.