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Tips to manage your money

Guidance to help you make your money go further so you can focus on studying and making the most of your time at UCL.

Financial tools

It’s worth putting some thought into which bank account is best for you. Most come with a free overdraft facility but be careful that you don’t go over your limit as the charges can be expensive.

Find out more about student bank accounts

Checking your statements regularly will help make sure that you are on top of things and aren’t overspending.

There are a lot of budgeting apps available and some of them have been specifically designed for students. The Money Advice Service have a handy budget calculator which will help you work out how much you have to spend.


Increase your income

Funding your studies

Make sure that you are receiving all the financial support that is available to you. There are various sources of funding for undergraduates, and students on postgraduate taught and postgraduate research courses. If you are not sure you have everything you are entitled to email the Student Funding team.

Part-time work

The University recommends that full-time undergraduate students do not work for more than 15 to 20 hours a week during term time.

International students who wish to know if they can work in the UK under their student visa can get advice and guidance from UKCISA

The UCLU job shop offers an easy-to-use online jobs list for current students interested in one-off, part-time or vacation work.

The UCL Careers Service have several jobs boards that you can search to find the opportunity you’re looking for. They can also provide student support with job applications, interviews and writing a professional CV.

Another way to earn money whilst at UCL is by helping out the Widening Participation team as a Summer School Student Leader, Taster Presenter or Language Ambassador.

Find out more about opportunities with Widening Participation

Remember that most students will have to pay Income Tax and National Insurance on money earned.


Accommodation

Student Funding Welfare have written a blogpost on how to reduce your rent by looking at ways to pay less for where you live, including homesharing, property guardianship and becoming a residence adviser (postgraduate students only).

Most landlords and agents ask for a UK-based guarantor. If you don’t have a UK-based guarantor, it is standard practice for landlords to ask for 6 month’s rent in advance. However, if you are a UCL student and have no debts to the university, UCL Residences may be able to act as your guarantor.

Use the resources like the University of London Housing Service contract checking service and UCLU's key points for renters to make sure you don’t get ripped off with contracts or bills.

If you are a full-time student you could be exempt from paying council tax 


Travel

Things are often nearer than you think. For example, it’s quicker to walk from Covent Garden tube station to Leicester Square than it is to take the tube. Once you get to know London you’ll learn the shortcuts, until then TfL have walking maps outside many tube stations.

If you need to go further afield you could invest in a bike. There’s lots of bike parking around UCL

You could also check out the Santander Cycles hire scheme from TfL, there are docking stations near UCL.

An 18+ Student Oyster Photocard will give you a 30% discount on Travelcard and Bus Pass season tickets, covering periods of a week to one year. It doesn’t offer a discount on pay as you go fares, although this is possible by linking your 16-25 railcard to your Oyster.

A 16-25 railcard will get you a third off rail travel in the UK as well as some other discounts. It’s also available to full time students over the age of 26. The Young Persons Coach Card offers the same benefits but on the coach network. You can also link this railcard to your Oyster card and save a third on all individual tube and bus journeys.


Food

The cost of eating out and getting take-aways can really stack up. Cooking for yourself or with your housemates is cheaper and healthier, with the added benefit of bringing everyone together. There are lots of free recipes online and if you cook with your housemates it will lower the cost even more.

Plan a menu for the week and make a shopping list before heading to the shops. This will make sure you only buy what you need and less food will go to waste.

Take a packed lunch and bring coffee, tea or water in a flask - it will be cheaper than buying everything on campus.               

Shop around for your food. Mysupermarket helps find the best deals from across major supermarket chains.

Don’t be afraid to try the value brands. They are much more economical and studies have shown that consumers can prefer the cheaper brand. Swap one item a week for the value version and if you like it, stick with it. If not, just swap back.

Some supermarkets do Meal Ticket Cards for students where a parent or guardian can put money on the card and the student can spend the money on their food shop. Currently Asda and Sainsburys have schemes, ask at your local branch.

Many supermarkets reduce items in the hour before they close. Visit at this time to get vastly reduced prices on food.

Use an app like Olio to pick up food that shops in your area are giving away.


Course costs

Take advantage of the UCL libraries – they are free and there are comprehensive short term loan sections.

Some of UCL’s libraries also loan laptops on a short term basis to students who may not have access to their own.

Discuss your reading list with your tutor to find out which textbooks are essential and would be good to own, and which ones you’ll only use a few times and so can borrow from the library or share.

Research before you buy. Sites like Amazon or eBay may have the books you need at a lower price. Abebooks sells second hand books.

It’s worth checking in local second hand shops around UCL to see if a student in a year above you, or who has graduated, has donate books they don’t need anymore.

Take advantage of loyalty card schemes at bookshops, like the one at Waterstones.


Health

The NHS Low Income Scheme offers help to people from low-income backgrounds cover health related costs on the NHS such as travel, prescriptions, dental and optician’s bills. The certificate lasts for a year. To apply, pick up a HC1 form from the Student Funding counter in the Student Centre and post it to the address at the link above.

Don’t pay a premium for branded medication. The basic range of any medicine can be up to 8 times cheaper than branded alternatives even though the active ingredients are identical and the effects have no measurable difference


Lifestyle and Shopping

Student discount sites like Student Beans, My Uni Days, Save the Student and Student Money Saver also all contain deals and discounts.   

The NUS Extra card gets you discounts at many restaurants, shops and other venues. 

Students can also get discounts to many cultural sites and activities in London. Check out the UCLU website for deals on the theatre, ballet and opera.

Sign up to a site like Freecycle where local people list items they are giving away, or things they want. All you have to do is go and collect it. Freecycle has everything from desks to books.

Shop around for the best deals. There are a lot of comparison websites providing information on the best value deals for mobile phones or laptops.

Find out more money saving tips from UCL students