Page updated 11 August 2016
Many students have to manage on a very low income. Working out and sticking to a budget will help you to make your money last and avoid financial difficulties.
How do I budget?
Include all your guaranteed income. If you are not sure that you are getting your full entitlement of student loans, grants or benefits, contact the Student Advice Centre for help.
Many students boost their income by working part time. It is important to make sure that your studies don’t suffer as a result but working part time can be a source of valuable work experience as well as extra funds. For more information, visit the Student Jobshop.
Start by working out how much you need to cover priorities such as food, rent and utility bills. You can then work out how much you have left to cover other expenses such as clothes and socialising. Make sure you include one off costs such as birthday presents and that you also try to keep some money for emergencies.
Be realistic and as accurate as possible about your income and what you spend.
Be flexible - a budget can be planned over a weekly or monthly period, whatever suits you best, and can be changed as and when your situation changes.
Use the University’s online Money Planner.
Help with budgeting
If you need help drawing up your budget or can’t get your budget to balance, make an appointment to see a money adviser at the Student Advice Centre. They can help you to maximise your income and, if necessary, help identify ways to reduce your spending.
Page updated 11 August 2016
Whether you owe your housemate £50 or a credit card company £5000, debt can be worrying. While many people’s initial reaction is to ignore the problem and hope it goes away, this usually make things worse. If you find yourself in debt and need help, contact a money adviser at the Student Advice Centre. We know it isn’t always easy to talk about debt to someone you don’t know but our advisers are sympathetic and won’t judge you - we’re just here to help.
Understand your debts
Some debts are classed as priority debts. This is because the consequences of not paying them are more serious than the consequences of not paying other debts. Even if you owe more to non priority creditors, you should always aim to pay off your priority debts first.
Common priority debts for students include:
Rent (you could end up losing your home)
Electricity and gas bills (your supplies could be disconnected)
TV licence (watching TV without a valid licence is a criminal offence)
University tuition fees (if you owe fees, you will not be allowed to register for the next year of your course or graduate).
Non priority debts
Non priority debts include money debts such as overdrafts and credit card bills. Be aware that if you have an overdraft and you fail to manage it properly (for example, by exceeding your limit), your bank can cancel your overdraft and ask you to pay back the money you owe.
Although it is always best to talk to your creditors if you are struggling to pay, don’t agree to anything without first thinking about what you can afford - setting up an unrealistic payment plan which you may not be able to stick to can make things worse in the long run.
Prepare a financial statement before you contact your creditors with offers of repayment.
If you have debts (other than student loans) or you have missed a payment in the past (for example, on a mobile phone contract), details will be recorded in your credit file. Your credit file contains information about live and closed accounts, and money owed at your current and previous addresses. Most of the information remains on your file for six years.
You have the right to request a copy of your credit file from any of the three credit reference agencies for a fee of £2. You can find more information about your credit file and how to request a copy here.
There is no such thing as a credit blacklist. If you are refused credit it may be because you have a poor credit rating, but it could also be because you have little or no credit history, or because the lender simply thinks you cannot afford it.
Further help and information
There are lots of websites where you can find more information about debt and access support from specialist debt advisers. The Student Advice Centre recommends the following:
The Money Advice Service - set up by the government to offer free, independent advice.
Step Change - the UK’s leading debt advice charity.
Page updated 11 August 2016
Use the library or buy books second hand. If you have to buy new, try to split the cost with a friend and sell the book when you no longer need it.
Boost your income
Look for a part time job at the Student Jobshop.
Control your spending
Use your budget to work out how much you can afford to spend every week. Withdraw the money from the bank and leave your cards at home.
Plan a menu for the week and stick to it. Cook with your housemates to save money.
Apply for help with prescriptions and other health costs using an HC1 form.
Show your NUS card to get student discounts.
Look out for supermarket own brands and special offers.
Use cashback sites such as Quidco when shopping online.
Lots of freebies available online on sites such as MagicFreebies for otherwise expensive items.
Look for travel discounts on public transport in Sheffield, as well as travel elsewhere in the UK and internationally.
Use the Women’s Minibus to get home - at £1.50 it’s cheaper than a taxi.
Manage your bills online and pay by direct debit to get the best deal.
You may be also able to save by switching suppliers (but check in case you need to get your landlord’s permission first).