It’s good to get prepared by trying to make your available funds or income last until the end of term. Budgeting is a top tool to manage your money. Please download our Student Budget Calculator to find out how much money you can stretch over your time at uni or for a quick guide, use the Brightside Student Calculator online
Budgeting is a real skill and to do it effectively takes time and forward planning. Keep a list of what you spend and check this regularly against your budget. Make a budget and stick to it!
Great Ways to Save
There are a number of ways where you can save and get discounts. Here are some for you to look at:
The NUS Extra Card
For lots of savings and discounts only available to students, you can purchase your NUS Extra Card for £12 from CUSU Reception or online: http://www.nus.org.uk/en/nus-extra/
CUSU Discount Card
This discount card is only available to Coventry University students to get local discounts in the Coventry area. You can purchase yours for £5 from our CUSU Reception or on our website http://www.cusu.org/shop/
Other websites that offer discounts:
There are a number of websites aimed at helping students save money, with many offering vouchers, discount codes, and offer information. Many also have searchable mobile apps so you can have vouchers displayed on your phone when you need them. Get online and see what’s out there!
Remember, it may look a good deal but do you really need it and can you really afford it?
If sharing with housemates, why not put money in a kitty and have meals together on nights when you are all in?
Remember if you bulk your meals you can freeze the rest. For small leftovers, ask yourself if you can use it for lunch tomorrow and add a little something to it e.g. salad or pasta.
Also, don’t forget when food shopping to try the supermarket’s own brand, do you own taste challenge and see if you can save money on your food bill. Try a weekly shop online so you can keep track of what you’re spending and it saves you heading to the store – look out for free delivery at some stores!
Some local training colleges will provide beauty treatments and/or haircuts for free or at very low cost. Also, some hairdressers will want models to practice on, keep your eyes open. This could save you best part of £50 each month.
For those who like to keep their hair very short, invest in some hair clippers, they will save you a fortune!
Get online and sell stuff you don’t need or use anymore from books to clothes using one or more of the various selling websites out there. Some even trade in books for gift cards and there are several swap shop websites out there too!
Boost your income with part-time work but make sure it doesn’t interfere with your studies.
Look for part-time work or a holiday job or even work on a project with your particular skills. Look out for CUSU vacancies on our website, Coventry University also advertise their jobs for students on their website and their recruitment agency Futureworks athttp://www.thefutureworks.org
There are plenty of job board websites too with plenty of opportunities. Some also advertise for student projects.
Spare Change Jar
Pennies can turn into pounds!
Keep putting your spare change in a jar or better still in a locked tin and it’ll soon mount up.
Other Top Tips
- Never shop for food when you’re hungry or you’ll end up buying more;
- Look for ‘buy one get one free’ offers and you share with a friend if you don’t want both;
- Make a shopping list and stick to it;
- Use your interest free overdraft on a student account instead of a credit card;
- Don’t take your card out with you as you’ll be tempted to use it;
- Set yourself a limit as to what you’ll spend on a night out;
- Don’t’ spend what you haven’t got, or buy on impulse;
- Clothes should not be prioritised and be a luxury or treat. For ways to save money on clothes click here
- Don’t buy what you can borrow and don’t buy what you don’t need;
- Give up smoking, if you qualify for free prescriptions the NHS will foot the bill to help you give up, and there is normally a smoking cessation plan in CUSU or contact http://www.nhs.uk/smokefree
- Don’t buy books; borrow them from the University or local library instead;
- If you’re looking for activities that are free or, why not do some volunteering through the CUSU’s volunteering scheme.
Costs to Consider at University
There are a few upfront costs when starting out in uni, including course materials. Here are some of the ways you can save. Ask around campus if senior students are willing to sell their old textbooks at a reduced price (and once you’ve finished with them, you too can sell them on too!). You could also look on selling websites for second hand textbooks.
Which textbooks do you actually need to buy? Visit the uni library to see which ones you can borrow.
Check with your uni department if you can purchase course materials directly as they may be a lot cheaper to buy, and don’t forget to make the most of your NUS Extra discount card.
Whether you’re travelling 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;
- 18+ Student Oyster Photocard (London travelcard);
- Young Persons Coachcard.
For more added savings, try to plan ahead and book in advance.
It is possible to eat normally and healthily whatever your budget. Here are a couple of pointers to get you started:
- Prevent impulse buys in the supermarket by making a shopping list and sticking to it.
- Cook a big meal and freeze the rest. This way nothing gets wasted, it works out a lot cheaper and you always have a back-up plan when the cupboards are bare!
- Make packed lunches.
- For more ways on saving on food and housekeeping, please click here
From Freshers’ Week to club memberships, student night gigs, sport or a quick catch-up with friends at CUSU, the cost of socialising can soon mount up. Try and allocate yourself so much a week during term time for entertainment. Being sociable doesn’t have to be expensive: theme nights in with housemates, two-for-one cinema nights, free events at CUSU or our book one of CUSU’s Let’s Go trips.
Discount websites such as NUS Extra, Student Beans and Voucher Codes offer deals on cheap days and nights out including theatre trips and eating out. If you are going out in a group e.g. to the theatre, ask if you qualify for a group discount.
Use cash on your nights out and only take money you can afford spend!
For free or low cost trips in and around Coventry, please click here THINGS TO DO FOR FREE (OR CHEAP) AROUND COVENTRY
If you’re in halls of residence, utilities such as gas, electricity and water are usually included as part of your rent but that might not be the case if you’re in private housing. Along with your rent, you’ll need to put aside a certain amount each month to cover utility bills. Setting up regular payments is a good way of managing the outlay. This will vary depending on usage. Try to use appliances economically to help your budget and the environment.
Take meter readings when you move in and give them to the respective utility companies, asking them to set up a new account for you. This should ensure that you are not liable for bills left by previous tenants. Plus, take regular meter readings to ensure you only pay for what you use.
Always share the responsibility for bills. Ideally everyone should have their names on all the bills.
Pay bills by Direct Debit as you may be entitled to a discount for this. Remember you’ll need to make sure that you have enough money in your account. Why not put reminders in your diary or phone so you’ll know when the bills are coming out?
To help you to keep track of your shared household bills and manage a healthy budget visit www.ioweyou.co.uk an online calculator for expenses sharing.
Make sure you’re not paying too much for broadband. Don’t forget that there are often other costs involved when searching for broadband e.g. the cost of installing a phone line and monthly line rental. Compare deals online available to students and avoid signing up for a whole year if you won’t be around for the summer.
If you’re a full-time student and you only live with other full-time students, your house should be exempt from Council Tax. If you live in Coventry, you will need to contact Coventry City Council on http://www.coventry.gov.uk/info/55/council_tax/480/council_tax_-_exemptions
You must have your own TV licence if you live in halls of residence and have your own TV or watch live television through a laptop or computer. If you live in a shared house you only need one licence for the whole property, unless you all rent individual rooms with separate locks on each bedroom door, in which case anyone with a TV needs their own licence. If you are not at uni for the summer months, you can claim one quarter back (you need a full three months remaining on the licence to qualify) this amounts to almost £37.
Check if you need contents insurance as your belongings could be covered under your parents’ home policy. If not, try a comparison quote online for a cheap basic contents policy.
You might not realise until you become a student how much things like toothpaste and shower gel cost. Set enough aside for the basics, making the most of special offers and value brands – shop around!
It’s tempting once you get your loan to head straight to the shops but you’ll regret blowing your clothes budget in the first week. Save money by making the most of student discounts in shops and online e.g. using your NUS Extra Card. Find extra discounts and money back by shopping online through cashback websites.
Don’t forget to look at some good charity shops or market stalls or consider a clothes swapping party for a fun, cheap alternative to shopping! For other ways to save money on clothes click here
Extra Study Expenses
Printing, photocopying, library fines (avoid these, if possible). The little costs can add up and here’s how to keep them to a minimum: If you’re taking a course where you’re likely to be submitting lots of assignments, it might be worth buying a printer (you can get a decent budget one for under £50) rather than using university facilities.
Always print double-sided and in black and white where possible.
What is Finance?
Student finance is the way you fund your university education. The majority of students take up the offer of a student loan from the government. You may also be eligible for grants and other funding.
There are two main types of student finance which all British students are entitled to apply for via the government backed Student Loans Company (SLC).
Tuition Fee Loan
This money goes towards paying your university fees and is paid directly to the university.
You can get a loan to cover the full cost of your tuition fees and you only start to pay it back when you are earning over £21,000 a year.
The purpose of this loan is to help cover your basic living and academic costs whilst at university such as food, accommodation and travel. To apply for a maintenance loan you must be a full-time student. The amount you receive depends on where you are studying, entry year, household income and any additional grants. Further information can be found at www.gov.uk/student-finance.
Some students can also apply for additional support funding from a variety of sources so it’s worth spending a bit of time finding and then applying for it. There are 4 main types of student funding: grants, bursaries, scholarships and sponsorship. Further information is available at
Coventry University Student Funding Office
Other sites to help students with grants and scholarships:
Grants search on Turn2us.org.uk: https://www.turn2us.org.uk/
Directgov Student Finance: https://www.gov.uk/student-finance
Student Bank Accounts and Banking
It can be very tempting to borrow money to buy something or to help if you are struggling to make ends meet. It’s important to think carefully before you accept any form of credit. There are lots of different ways to borrow money, but before you make a decision you need to know about the different options available and work out what’s the best choice for you. The most common forms of credit are:
Student Bank Accounts and Overdrafts
Choosing the right student account can really help during your university years. Always compare student accounts regardless of the freebies they have on offer. Find out which bank offers the best overdraft as some banks offer accounts that you can borrow money for the length of your degree with no interest (0%), so long as it is an arranged overdraft.
Never go over your agreed overdraft limit or you’ll receive high bank charges and fees can add up quickly!
You must be careful as you will have to repay it all soon after graduating to avoid high interest rates, so budget accordingly and only spend what you really need. Overdrafts should be treated as a safety net only!
Credit cards allow you to pay for items instead of cash, however, you must pay back the credit card company back later and there is normally a minimum monthly repayment and interest is applied to the balance.
If you only pay the minimum balance, it will keep you in debt for longer meaning the longer you borrow for, the more interest you’ll be charged!
Store cards are credit cards except that while credit cards can be used anywhere, store cards can only be used in a specific store or store group. They tend to charge higher rates of interest.
Never, ever, use a store card to borrow on. If you have one, whatever the reason, always ensure you pay off in full!
Most banks and building societies offer personal loans which you normally pay back over a fixed term. Repayments are usually monthly and are paid by direct debit. The interest can vary depending on your individual circumstances.
Whatever credit you take out will normally mean you have to pay back more than you borrowed. The costs will vary from lender to lender, so it is important to shop around and make sure you can afford the repayments.
The interest on any form of credit is just a way to describe how much more you have to pay back than you borrowed. Normally interest is described as a percentage of the amount borrowed.
APR - Annual Percentage Rate
All lenders have to tell you the APR of any product they are offering, so you can compare different lenders’ rates fairly. The APR tells you the overall cost of the product for a year. The APR takes into account the interest charged plus any charges or fees you have to pay (e.g. an arrangement fee) and also the frequency and timing of repayments.
You can use APRs to compare the real cost of different credit and loan offers, although it works best if you are comparing similar types of credit over the same time period.
Before you sign up for a credit card, bank loan or store card, or add to an existing card or loan it makes sense to think about whether you really need to borrow money and can you keep up with the repayments?
If your expenditure is already close to or higher than your income then think very carefully if you can afford to take on any further commitments.
We know that some students can get into serious debt and it can quickly start to affect your studies. However, it is important that you don’t ignore your debt problems because the situation can become a lot worse. The earlier you deal with them the better.
That is where you can get help at Coventry University Students Union and at Coventry University Student Funding Office.
CUSU have advisers who can listen and advise you on the best way forward, and refer you to a specialist agency if necessary.
If you need help and advice on money matters, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone our Reception on 024 7765 5200 to book an appointment.
Coventry University finance department can advise you on ways to pay for your accommodation and/or tuitionhttp://www.coventry.ac.uk/study-at-coventry/student-support/finance/
Scholarships/Bursaries/Loans and grants can be explained via the University funding department
If you are a student with debts exceeding £5000, or are a student with a non-student partner, talk to
Other sites to help students regarding money matters:
The Money Advice Service: https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en
The Step Change Debt Charity: http://www.stepchange.org/