Student Communications Ambassador Georgia Stride shares her top tips on figuring out your finances during your time at Bath Spa.
Let’s be honest, sitting down to analyse your financial situation doesn’t sound like the most exciting thing to do, but we all know it’s something we should do more often.
For many, university will be the first time you’ve had to fend for yourself and it’s totally fine to admit you’re not sure where to start when it comes to maintaining a healthy bank balance. I’ve got a few tips for you to help ease the anxiety of living on a student budget.
Even though university is no longer free and grants are a distant memory, you can still apply for a maintenance loan to help you pay for necessities such as rent, food, travel expenses and the odd night out!
These loans are based on your household income so the amount you receive will be dependent on your individual situation. However, most loans are enough to cover at least your monthly rent. The maintenance loan probably won’t cover all your expenses but trust me, it does go a long way.
"Personally, when I received my payments over the year (there are three over the academic period), I would transfer it all to a savings account, divide it up by how many weeks I needed to make it last and then transfer a weekly amount over to my current account."
This was a great visual way to keep track of my spending and on more than one occasion made me think twice about buying that dress that I really didn’t need!
I’ve mentioned the obvious expenses such as food and rent, but what about unexpected costs?
As an English student, I noticed a fair amount of my money was being spent on books for my course. I’ve also heard that subjects such as Law also have a large reading list and often expensive book requirements. These are, of course, essential, but there are a couple of things you can do to keep the cost as low as possible.
First, I'd recommend taking a look at Facebook pages you’re part of or getting in touch with second or third year students doing the same course as you. Often, you can buy your books from students that don’t need them anymore at a great discount. Do be aware though that this isn’t always possible if you need a different edition, but on courses such as English, you can do this for several of your books.
"Bath Spa also has a great relationship with Mr B’s Bookshop in Bath who are the official stockists of our reading lists. They offer a 10% discount to all Bath Spa students purchasing books from them, and you get the added bonus of supporting a local bookstore!"
Working while studying
It’s inevitable that most students will have to work during their time at university but this is a great way of gaining work experience whilst also topping up the coffers.
Even though I lived at home, I still had some expenses, like buying books and running my car. Having a part-time job helped me pay for these. There are many companies in Bath and the surrounding area that are student-friendly and offer part-time or casual employment.
Over my three years as an undergraduate, I’ve worked for M&S, The Post Office and the University. All of my contracts have been under twenty hours a week and have allowed me to focus on my degree while also gaining valuable transferable skills.
I'd recommend using the Bath Spa Careers page to help you search for student-friendly positions. The Careers team are super friendly and offer fantastic support to job seeking students.
I hope I’ve helped to shed some light on how to make sense of your finances while you’re studying. Here are my top five tips to keep in mind:
- Set yourself a weekly budget and stick to it
- Put a small amount of money away in a savings account if you're able to, as this can help with unexpected expenses
- Keep track of what you're spending money on (e.g. some banking apps allow you to categorise your purchases)
- Set up a spreadsheet with your income and expenditure (nothing fancy, just so you can have a visual representation of your finances)
- If you’re struggling, get in touch with the University. There are several grants and loans that can help you if you fall on hard times.
Disclaimer: The Bath Spa blog is a platform for individual voices and views from the University's community. Any views or opinions represented in individual posts are personal, belonging solely to the author of that post, and do not represent the views of other Bath Spa staff, or Bath Spa University as an institution.
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