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How to manage your money while studying at university

Jan 8, 2024 | blog

From the moment you find out your ‘A’ Level results to the last exam of your course, money becomes a big part of your academic journey. Whether it’s the cost of a sandwich or figuring out your student loan, finances are always on your mind.

If you’re worried about handling the costs of living away from home while studying, whether it’s full-time or part-time, managing your funds becomes super important. Can you cover basics like food and electricity and still have enough for tuition fees? Maybe even squeeze in a night out?

University life in Leeds might not let you live like a millionaire (unless you hit the jackpot), but with smart planning, you can live comfortably within your means. This guide breaks down all the expenses you’ll face and gives you insights into how money flows in. Plus, there are tips to help you make the most of your finances.

What expenses await?

Generally, these are the costs awaiting you at university:

  • Tuition fees (usually covered by your student loan)
  • Rent for student accommodation, along with a deposit
  • Optional NUS membership
  • Transport expenses
  • Food, beverages, and toiletries
  • Stationery and, in some universities, additional printing credits
  • Textbooks and supplementary learning materials

Expenses you might skip

Concerning accommodation, beyond rent, additional costs like water, electricity, broadband, gas, contents insurance, and even council tax might arise. However, Ls6 Rentals all-inclusive properties cover various expenses within the rental cost, including:

  • Gas and electricity bills
  • Contents insurance
  • Water bills
  • Essential electrical appliances and furniture

This setup minimises additional purchases before moving in. Additionally, regarding council tax, full-time students can apply for rebates if billed. Visit the Leeds City Council website’s designated page for instructions.

Apart from these, expect a few perks during your studies. Borrowing books from university libraries is free, albeit printing and photocopying might incur nominal charges. Campus freebies encompass:

  • Parking facilities for cars and bicycles
  • Gym access at the University of Leeds
  • Up to five free downloads of Office 365 at the University of Leeds
  • Computer usage in university libraries
  • Three free visits to the West Yorkshire Playhouse using your student ID card
  • Free entry to selected Opera North performances in Leeds

Income sources

Primarily, your income revolves around two loan types: tuition fee loans and maintenance loans. Tuition fee loans cover tuition fees only, while maintenance loans encompass rent, food, and related expenses.

For disabled students, the Disabled Students’ Allowance provides up to £1,305 annually for part-time students and £1,741 for full-time students under ‘general allowance’. These amounts increase if specialised equipment is necessary.

To supplement loan or grant money, three main options exist: convincing parents for financial aid, working during summers, or seeking part-time employment while at university. All three universities in Leeds advertise job vacancies through their respective job shops.

Student discounts in Leeds

As a student-friendly city, Leeds offers numerous discounts, regardless of possessing an NUS extra card, a student ID card, or no card at all. Maximising savings involves having both cards on hand. An NUS extra card costs £12 for the standard version and £14.99 for the NUS/ISIC one, offering discounts ranging from 5% to 35% at various shops, bars, and restaurants.

Certain venues like the Carriage works and West Yorkshire Playhouse provide discounted or free entry for productions with a student ID card. Some campus shops offer discounts on lunch deals, clothes, textbooks, and stationery for cardholders. Alternatively, coupon sites like Groupon and PinkGorilla host discounts on a wide array of items.

Budgeting tips during your course

Budgeting often poses the greatest challenge. However, a pen, paper, and calculator—or better yet, a blank spreadsheet—can ease this task. Here’s how to budget effectively:

  • Calculate the expected income (e.g., student maintenance loan, part-time earnings, parental support)
  • Divide this estimated amount by the number of terms or months you’ll be in accommodation
  • Subtract expected expenses like rent, food, clothing, toiletries, entertainment, and transport

Budgeting becomes clearer by deducting rent from your termly or monthly income. This way, you ascertain the available funds for other necessities, particularly food and transport.

Regarding groceries, consider setting a spending limit and buying bulk staples like pasta, beans, cereal, and tinned tomatoes, especially when in a flatshare. Investing in appliances such as slow cookers can help prepare multiple portions of soups, curries, casseroles, and stews, while sandwich toasters offer quick lunches.

In case of emergencies

For unforeseen expenses or a night out, setting aside loose change proves beneficial. Collect 1p, 2p, and 5p coins in a large jar; once you accumulate £5 or £10, deposit it into your bank account. Doing this consistently throughout term-time aids in avoiding overdrafts.

Lastly, routinely check your bank statements for any irregular spending patterns. Should any anomalies arise, promptly contact your bank for resolution.

While finances may occasionally tighten, strategic planning, awareness of available loans, discounts, and benefits, along with prudent shopping practices, enable you to stretch your funds. Comparing prices, especially with friends, also pays dividends in making your money last longer.

The owner of LS6 Rentals is a Current Member of The Unipol Code who is also a Unipol Gold Owner, which means they have been members of The Unipol Code “for at least four consecutive years without a sustained complaint being made against them”. For Unipol registered student accommodation and student properties in Leeds call 0113 278 8756.

0113 278 8756