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Student advice: Saving money at university FAQ


Even after all of these years, a certain stereotypical image persists of the cash-strapped student with ragged clothes, subsisting on baked beans. It might be an image that is a decade or so out of date, but it’s also one that all too many students still play to, not deliberately, but because of poor money management.

Don’t make the same financial mistakes as past generations of students – read our FAQ to swot up on the all-important dos and don’ts when trying to make your cash last through your time at university.

How can I best manage my money?

That’s a much broader question than we have the room to answer in detail here! But we would advise that you start with the principle of only spending money that you actually have, and not blowing all of your loan cash straight away.

The education charity, Brightside has an excellent budget calculator with which to determine your own costs.

Is it true that students don’t need to pay council tax?

It is indeed true, although you should contact your local council to determine what exact discounts and benefits are available to you.

But in a nutshell, if you are a full-time student living alone or only with other students, no council tax will need to be paid for that household. The situation is more complicated if you are a student living with a non-student – although you still aren’t technically required to pay council tax, the other person may be, so you may come to an informal agreement to contribute to some of the costs.

Are there any other tax savings that I can take advantage of?

You should certainly make sure that you aren’t overpaying tax on any work that you do. As a student, you are subject to the same threshold as everyone else, not needing to pay any tax if you earn less than £10,600 a year, irrespective of your age.

If you are employed (not self-employed) and taxed via Pay As You Earn (PAYE), tax will be automatically charged on your earnings, which may make it necessary to reclaim it – for example, those doing summer or temp work are taxed as if they earn that rate all year.

What are online voucher codes?

You might have heard of these as a way to save money on all manner of products and services, and it’s true – there are discount codes out there that allow you to get better deals on everything from books, CDs and DVDs to electronics, food and other essentials.

Online voucher codes are the modern digital equivalent are the cut-out money off vouchers that your parents or grandparents might have used years ago, and there is an incredibly wide range of well-known stores that offer them, with the likes of Currys, House of Fraser, Tesco, Groupon and Amazon discount codes all available.

How can I save money on my energy bills?

Switching energy supplier isn’t the only way to cut your heating bills as a student. Consider such measures as turning down the thermostat, wearing an extra jumper during the winter or even spending more time at the university library instead of in the flat.

Could a payday loan help to get me through the month?

In previous years, we would have said “almost certainly not”, even for shorter-term financial worries. However, recent changes to the law have helped to bring a once-unknown level of reputability to the payday loans industry; read more about how legislation has changed payday lenders.

Photograph by PDPics

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