Making the most of your money

Being a student may mean you need to think before you spend, you may have to make a little money go a long way.

Sitting down and planning your budget is essential, make yourself aware of what extra funds you are eligible for and apply for them in good time.

Debt and Budgeting

Coping with a very tight budget will need you to manage your money, this will help avoid financial pressures that may affect your study. It helps if you can establish a realistic budget early in the year and stick to it.

Maintaining a healthy bank balance

  • Do not spend your rent, bills, and food money on other items
  • Sign up for Internet banking, which can help you stay aware of your finances
  • Set up low balance alerts and check your bank statements regularly
  • Consider paying your bills monthly by direct debit
  • Respond to messages from the bank and utilities companies promptly
  • If you get into financial difficulty, seek help quickly!

Make use of your student status

As a student, you can access lots of different discounts which will help you to save on spending. You will be eligible to sign up for UniDays, Student Beans, and Totum which offer discounts on a range of shops and services.

You can find more information about the Totum card here

Discounted train travel

If you are aged between 16-25, you could apply for a Student Railcard. It costs £30 to purchase but you will save a third off rail travel for one year. You can find more information on their website.

Discounted bus travel

As a UCSD student, you will be eligible to apply for the exclusive discounted bus pass offer with Stagecoach which offers 24/7 unlimited travel. Depending on your location, you will be eligible for a Dayrider or Explorer, giving you the independence and freedom to study, work, socialise, and explore! Click here for more information!

Optimise your student loan

If you are eligible for a student loan, consider transferring it into a savings account. Remember you need to keep back in another account enough for your immediate needs. This will allow you to obtain interest on the remaining amount. It will also prevent you from dipping into it for non-emergency spending.

We recommend researching different saving accounts so you can find the one with the best interest rates.

Consider a part-time job

Working part-time alongside your studies is not right for everyone, it depends on your lifestyle, the intensity of your course, and what other commitments you have. However, if you feel you have time to get a part-time job, this can be a great way to boost your income and experience.

It is important to consider what the expectations are of your course to see whether you can fit a job into your study time. If you do decide to get a part-time job, try not to work more than 16 hours a week.

Get the right bank account

When deciding on a bank account, think about what features are important to you and which banks offer the best deals. Some banks offer student overdrafts which are interest-free for a certain number of years. Therefore, you should research before making a decision to ensure that the chosen bank is the right one for you. The main things to look for in a student account are:

  • overdraft fees: Some may charge a monthly fee for using an overdraft, whilst others will offer an interest-free one, take this into consideration when deciding.
  • interest paid on balances: Some banks will offer interest on money left in your account so look out for this option as it is a bonus.
  • other charges: There may be additional costs on some accounts for going into your overdraft, so make sure to read the terms and conditions carefully before signing up.
  • accessibility: It is a good idea to make sure you choose a bank with either a branch or a cashpoint near where you will be living. This way you will be able to withdraw funds without extra charges and have someone to speak to face-to-face if you require advice. It is also recommended to sign up for online banking, so you can keep a close eye on your account.

Budgeting Tips  


  • Reduce your food bill by buying and cooking in bulk, consider sharing this cost with others.
  • Never shop when you are hungry, you are more likely to impulse buy and spend more!
  • Make a shopping list and stick to it
  • Reduce the amount spent on take-out coffee, snacks, and sandwiches
  • Buy unpackaged fruit and vegetables
  • Make use of the free water fountains on campus instead of buying bottled water
  • Learn to cook from scratch and freeze leftovers to reduce food waste
  • Be sustainable and grab unwanted food from cafes and restaurants at super bargain prices, use the app Too Good To Go.


  • Make use of the library here on campus
  • Try a meat-free day once or twice a week.
  • Try growing your own herbs and vegetables.
  • Sell any unwanted clothes and books.
  • Visit the NHS Low-income scheme to help with prescriptions, eye, and dental treatments.


  • Ensure your washing machine is full for every load, this makes it more efficient, also wash at 30 degrees
  • Use energy-saving bulbs and turn off the lights when you leave the room
  • Always buy own brand medicines, such as painkillers and hay fever tablets
  • Find free or cheap furnishings on Gumtree, Freecycle, Preloved, and Ebay.


  • Remember to take a photographic inventory when you move into a new property to avoid any disputes with your deposit when you move out
  • Get to grips with your contract, check if your rent includes bills or not, and if the rent and deposit are clearly outlined
  • Beware of agency fees, make sure you know the full charges before you commit
  • Insure your belongings or check if you are covered by your parent’s insurance


  • Make use of your NUS card and other student discounts, as well as store loyalty cards
  • Downshift to own-label brands
  • Check online and in magazines and newspapers for deals and vouchers
  • Make the most of sales and offers and learn how to use cashback sites

For comprehensive tips and advice, please see Save the Student and Money Saving Expert

Checking your Income and Expenditure


Check when you are likely to receive your funding and how long it is intended to cover. Student funding can be paid termly (maintenance loan) or monthly (NHS funding). You may receive it during the standard academic year of ten months (September to June) or over a calendar year (12 months). Other income is paid monthly (wages) or four-weekly (tax credits and child benefits).

Sponsorship such as family contributions can be paid annually or irregularly.

Cash flow

Student Finance-funded students receive funding termly. As the terms are of different lengths, it is important to budget evenly over the whole academic year.


Check when you are expected to pay things like tuition fees or rent and if you receive your funding termly, it is much better to pay your rent termly.

You may have higher course costs within the first term. It is important to turn termly income or annual expenditure into a monthly amount. This will enable you to check where you are financially each month and adjust your budget by reducing expenditures or increasing your income if you need to.

Few students receive enough income to survive without occasionally running into difficulty. If you are not managing, do not just borrow more money as this can make the problem worse. UCSD has a hardship fund, please get in touch if you get into difficulties.

Being in debt can affect you in several ways. It may cause you to be continually worried and experience stress, which can have a negative impact on your work. If this happens, consider getting in touch [email protected] . You may find yourself ignoring official correspondence and denying the need to act.

Three Golden Rules for Coping

  • Do not panic, things are rarely as bad as they seem and there are many support services that can help you negotiate with your creditors
  • Do not hide from the truth, debt is best dealt with immediately as the situation can deteriorate quickly
  • Talk to the people to whom you owe money, your creditors will often accept far more modest repayments if they know your true financial circumstances

Different Types of Debt

If you find yourself with bills you can not pay, you need to be clear about the relative importance of what is due.

Priority Debt

These are debts that threaten your liberty or well-being and must be addressed immediately. Non-payment of taxes (including Council Tax), fines or a TV license can, in extreme circumstances, result in prison sentences. Similarly, if you cannot keep up with your rent or mortgage payments you may find yourself threatened with eviction or repossession.

Both these processes are slow ones, which take some months to complete, but you should seek advice immediately if this occurs.

Other Debt

These are debts that are still important, but which are not an immediate threat to your well-being (e.g., utility bills, mail order debts, credit cards, unauthorised overdrafts).

You may find that your credit rating is affected if you do not keep up with the monthly minimum payments. You may be threatened with withdrawal of services or court action, but this is unlikely to occur if you begin negotiations with the creditor.

There are strict rules about cutting off essential services such as electricity, gas, and water, and this will not occur unless you fail repeatedly to respond to correspondence.

Remember that unpaid debts to the University can cause problems, such as being subject to debt collection procedures, or if you fail to pay your tuition fees you may be excluded from the University.

To help you deal with the problem, you should seek further advice or support.  Talking MoneyCitizens AdviceStep Change or the National Debtline.

List of useful links Citizens Advice Bureau – Financial

Work out your budget

Get help if you’re struggling to pay your bills

Help with debt

Get help with the cost of living

Benefits – introduction

 Help on a low income