Banking and Budgeting
Student Bank Accounts
You will need your own bank or building society account for your student loan to be paid into. This could be a normal account or a student bank account.
With most major high street banks offering student bank accounts, it is a good idea to shop around for incentives. Many banks offer authorised interest-free overdrafts and free gifts. The UCAS website has some useful advice on how to choose a bank account. You can also find helpful guides on Save the Student, Which, and Money Saving Expert. When choosing a bank account, it is important to consider what will happen to your interest-free overdraft after graduation.
Proving Your Student Status
Banks will need to verify your identity and student status through documents such as your passport, driving licence, and enrolment evidence. Each bank will have its own procedures so it’s worth checking what you’ll need before you apply. You can request a course confirmation letter from enrolment, if you need one.
Your Credit Rating
Banks will carry out a credit check before they open your account. You can find out how to check your credit report on the Money Advice Service website. They also have advice on how you can improve your credit rating.
Basic Bank Accounts
If, for any reason, you are unable to get a student bank account or a normal current account, you could consider a basic bank account. These accounts are similar to normal bank accounts but do not require a credit check and may have more basic features.
If you have received a number of charges from your bank for being regularly overdrawn, it is worth contacting them to request support. Many successful refunds relate to situations where:
- charges are creating financial hardship, resulting in being unable to pay for necessities.
- bank charges are added to past bank charges, putting customers further into the red and potentially causing further charges.
- charges are disproportionate to the amount of debt.
Here are three guides that could help you if you need to reclaim bank charges.
Successful ‘unfair’ bank charge claims can, in some situations, result in the bank account being closed. It is important to check the terms and conditions attached to an offer of bank charge refunds.
If you have received a one-off bank charge or a charge applied in error, it is helpful to call your bank and ask if they can wipe the charge. It could be worth discussing the situation with them to see if they can recommend some options so you can avoid repeating the situation in the future.
If you are constantly going over your authorised overdraft then you might need to look at a budget. See the section below for budget planners and advice. Remember, you can always get in touch with the Money Advice team if you have any questions or concerns.
Budget Planners and Calculators
Planning a weekly or monthly budget can be a really easy and effective way to manage your money. Below are two online budget planners that will help make your money go further.
Brightside Budget Planner
The Brightside budget calculator is tailored towards students. There are three stages to the calculator, the first stage calculates an estimated award from Student Finance, the second stage tallies up any income that you may have for the year and the third stage is for any expenses.
There are sample expenses such a shopping lists to give you an idea of what a weekly shop might cost.
Keep in mind that the calculator gives an annual figure so this will need to be divided by the number of weeks in the year or in study to give an accurate budget. The Brightside calculator should take approximately 10 minutes to complete.
The Money Charity
This is a general budget planner that can be updated online. Please keep in mind that the calculator gives a yearly figure so this will need to be divided by the number of weeks in the year. Semester 1 usually runs for 15 weeks including the two week holiday.
The calculator should take approximately 10 minutes to complete.
Royal Medical Benevolent Fund Budget Calculator
This budget planner is designed for medical students but can be used by anyone.
Rent Budget Calculator
Use this Rent budget calculator from Save the Student to see how much rent you can afford to pay each month. This will take into account your other costs as well.
Money Saving Expert (Martin Lewis)
The Martin Lewis budget calculator is designed to accurately capture the way you spend and is more comprehensive than most. It will take approximately 15-20 minutes to complete if you have all the information required beforehand.
There are three versions of the tool: the big online financial analyser tool, an Excel or Open Office version if you prefer spreadsheets, or a good old-fashioned print-out if you don’t.
New Rules on Bank Charges for Unarranged Overdrafts
Since 6th April 2020 banks have no longer been able to charge fixed daily or monthly fees for an overdraft and must now charge a single interest rate for all overdrafts whether they are arranged or unarranged.
An arranged overdraft is set up by agreement in advance, whereas an unarranged one is when an account balance dips below zero by accident due to a direct debit or payment coming out. Overdrafts are usually (apart from student overdrafts with a 0% rate of interest) designed for very short-term use and should be avoided.
This new rule from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) also means banks cannot charge customers more for unarranged overdrafts than for arranged overdrafts.
But watch out for the new overdraft interest charges that, in some cases, have soared since this rule was proposed. It is always worth checking all emails, texts and letters from your bank as these may have vital updates on new charges.
If you have an arranged or unarranged overdraft and are worried about the interest rates, it would be a good idea to talk to the bank and ask for help – here is a guide from Money Saving Expert on how to do this.
Please remember that during the COVID-19 outbreak, the FCA has asked banks to offer at least the first £500 of overdraft at a 0% interest rate, but do make sure to contact your bank first, as this may need to be requested and might not be automatic.
You can download these handy apps on your phone to keep track of your spending on the go.
Money Dashboard brings together all your accounts onto a central dashboard. The app lets you see where your money is being spent and set limits on your spending.
Yolt helps you to see your spending clearly with easy budgeting, a central dashboard and help with international money transfers and energy comparison.
Helpful Budgeting Websites
Money Advice Service – their online tool is a quick way to save cash and it only take a minute!
Use the online student finance calculator to estimate your student loan.
The Money Saving expert website has a list of sixty ways that you can make the most of your money – and it’s aimed specifically at students.
Managing Your Money
The government’s Money Advice Service asked students for their tips on managing money in this short video.
Being a student means you can take advantage of generous student discounts both online and in store. The links below take you to some of the most popular discounts and deals and it’s always good to ask if student discounts are available, whether you’re eating out, shopping, or getting a haircut!
TOTUM (powered by NUS Extra) gives you access to a huge range of student discounts. You can buy the card online by visiting the Students’ Union .
By registering on their website you can gain access to lots of discounts and offers for both online and high-street retailers. There’s no charge for the service and they also have a really handy app which you can use in many high-street retailers to prove your student status.
Travelling by coach is very likely to work out much cheaper than travelling by train and National Express serves all major cities, and many towns. All full-time students are eligible to apply for a Young Persons Coach Card which costs just £10 and gives you a third off all tickets. Visit the website for more information.
Costing £30 per year or £70 for the three-year option, the 16-25 Railcard gives you a third off all train travel in the UK. It’s available to any individual under the age of 25 but full-time students over the age of 25 are also eligible to apply. You can apply online by visiting their website or in person at any rail station. If you need to get your application form stamped by Edge Hill University, the staff at the Student Information Desk in the Student Information Centre (SIC) can do this for you.
Student Beans has a variety of student discounts, offers and vouchers from a range of popular high street and online retailers.
Save the Student is a great resource for all things money-related, not just discounts! It has a wide selection of articles to help you make, save and spend money during your time at university.
- Try looking for second-hand textbooks online if you’re struggling to locate your book in a library. Amazon and eBay are good places to start.
- There are plenty of PCs around campus, especially in Catalyst, so you might not need to shell out on that expensive laptop.
If you’re unsure about taking the first steps into the kitchen, here are some websites that will make cooking a breeze.
Student Eats has a great YouTube channel with loads of quick, easy and tasty recipes, like the one below:
Student Cooking TV has loads of recipes with step-by-step visual guides. Recipes are also categorised to make finding tonight’s perfect meal simple.
Feel like a takeaway but can’t afford it? Making your own version can be healthier for both you and your wallet. Have a look at BBC Good Food’s Takeaway Favourites for inspiration.
Want to know what’s cooking in other students’ kitchens? Take a look at Student Recipes to see what’s been rated highly or to share your own ideas.
It’s a good idea to budget how much you can spend on food each week so you’re not living on tins of beans and used teabags by the end of the month!
Include treats in your budget, such as nights out and meals with friends. You don’t want to miss out on something fun because you’ve got no money left.
Save money on your snacks by buying multi-packs in advance rather than grabbing something on the go.
Bulk cooking is a great way to save money. Making big batches of your favourite meals and then freezing them into individual portions will save you both money and time when you come home hungry.
Why not do your shopping at the end of the day when lots of items are drastically reduced?
Don’t go shopping on an empty stomach!
Money Saving Expert has put together 33 tips and tricks to slash the cost of your shopping trip, including when to find reduced items and writing a meal plan.