University finance tips

Learning to manage your finances can be a challenge for many university students, especially for those who are living away from home for the first time. Juggling tuition fees, rent, bills, textbooks, social activities, and other expenses can quickly become overwhelming. However, it is possible to manage these and handle challenges successfully. Below are some of my suggestions for managing finances whilst still enjoying your university experience.

1. Create a budget

The first step for managing your finances at university is to create a budget. This is a plan for how you will spend your money. Start by listing all your essential expenses including rent, bills, groceries, transport, medication, etc. Work out how much money you have coming in each month or that you have aside from part-time jobs, savings, student loans, etc. You can then allocate your income to your expenses, and see how much you have left for entertainment like drinking, eating out, day trips, etc.

It’s important to review and update your budget regularly, especially if your income or expenses change. This can help you stay on top of your finances and avoid overspending.

2. Track your spending

It may be helpful to track your spending by recording all your expenses, including small purchases such as coffee, which can add up. This can help you to realise where you may be unnecessarily spending. Apps like Monzo can help you in categorising your money and limiting your spending on money on certain activities.

By tracking your spending, you can identify areas where you may need to cut back and areas where you have some room for flexibility. This can help you make informed decisions about where to allocate your money.

3. Avoid unnecessary expenses

Whilst I’m an advocate for enjoying university life, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of university life and overspend on items that aren’t a necessity. It’s important to factor in social activities for your wellbeing; however, it’s also important to be mindful of your expenses. There are many ways to save money whilst still having fun, such as cooking with friends, charity shopping, watching a movie at home, etc.

One way to avoid unnecessary expenses is to plan ahead and look for free or low-cost activities to do on campus or in the local area.

4. Use student discounts

Many shops and businesses do student discounts, so be sure to take advantage of them. You can show your student ID or app ID (like on UniDays) to receive discounts on everything from food to entertainment.

It’s worth doing some research to find out which businesses offer student discounts and what the discount percentage is. This can help you save money on things you need or want to buy.

5. Consider part-time work

Depending on your course hours, it may be worth considering getting a part-time job. There are many student jobs available that can fit around your studies through UniTemps, our on-campus job centre, or by signing up to be a Student Ambassador. Alternatively, if you would rather work outside of university, positions such as working in a coffee shop, pub, or pet sitting could be a great way to earn some extra money that can help cover expenses for groceries and social activities.

Working part-time can also give you valuable work experience and skills that you can use in your future career. Just be sure to balance your work and studies so that you don’t get overwhelmed.

6. Look for scholarships and grants

There are various scholarships and grants available to university students throughout their studies, either through the university or externally. The full list of Surrey scholarships can be found here:

It’s worth taking the time to research and apply for scholarships and grants as they can be a valuable source of financial support. Scholarships and grants are essentially free money that doesn’t need to be paid back, making them an excellent way to reduce the overall cost of your education.

7. Plan for emergencies

Planning for emergencies is an important aspect of managing finances as a university student. Emergencies can rise unexpectedly, such as medical bills or a sudden car breakdown, and having a plan in place to handle these situations can help prevent financial strain.

One way to plan for emergencies is to set aside some money in a savings account specifically for unexpected expenses. This will allow you to cover unexpected costs without having to rely on a credit card or loan, which can escalate to greater financial difficulties.

Overall, managing finances at university can be a daunting task for many. However, it is possible to balance being mindful when spending but also having fun. By using the tips above, you can successfully manage your finances. University is the perfect time to develop good financial habits that will help set you up for financial success in the future.