Your browser isn't supported
It looks like you're using an old web browser. To get the most out of the site and to ensure guides display correctly, we suggest upgrading your browser now. Download the latest:

Welcome to the MSE Forums

We're home to a fantastic community of MoneySavers but anyone can post. Please exercise caution & report spam, illegal, offensive or libellous posts/messages: click "report" or email forumteam@.

    • MSE Jenny
    • By MSE Jenny 1st Sep 08, 11:59 AM
    • 1,233Posts
    • 3,567Thanks
    MSE Jenny
    The great 'what I wish I'd known before I was a student' hunt
    • #1
    • 1st Sep 08, 11:59 AM
    The great 'what I wish I'd known before I was a student' hunt 1st Sep 08 at 11:59 AM
    Learning from your own mistakes is half the fun of uni, but what financial pointers do you wish you’d known before you arrived fresh-faced at the halls of residence?

    Whether it’s grabbing hidden grants, buying books second-hand or steering clear of credit cards, we’d like graduate MoneySavers to impart their wisdom for the benefit of future students. What's your best advice for students beginning their new lives?

    Please also read the Parents Guide to Student Funding and the Student MoneySaving Guide

    This Forum Tip was included in MoneySavingExpert's weekly email

    Don't miss out on new deals, loopholes, and vouchers

    Last edited by MSE Martin; 02-09-2008 at 7:01 PM.
Page 1
    • Colxfile
    • By Colxfile 1st Sep 08, 2:14 PM
    • 76 Posts
    • 30 Thanks
    • #2
    • 1st Sep 08, 2:14 PM
    • #2
    • 1st Sep 08, 2:14 PM
    I was flogged a credit card with my student account. I paid it off in full every month and it has cost me prcisely nothing, so I had no trouble there.

    What I wish I'd known before I said "yes" to it, was how much of a fantastic waste of money the credit card insurance I ended up paying for would be. Not only did it take so long for them to get in back touch with me after I paid for it (Thus putting me outside the cooling off period, so I couldn't change my mind, cancel and get a refund) I never claimed on it. Cancelling it at the end so as not to renew the policy left me being hard sold something I still wouldn't have needed to use.

    In a minor way, I bear in mind that to save money on coming back for Christmas and Easter, it may sometimes be easier and / or cheaper to come back on the Monday or Tuesday after breaking up, instead of just starting my journey the instant the weekend starts.
    "Peter Pan is 2. Shirley Bassey is 3. Dr Ian Paisley is 4. King Lear is 5. Why?"

    "...also known as taking in the Spanish Cub Scout leader. (Cryptic) (5)"

    Thanks to MSE, I've seen Citizen Kane, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Serenity for FREE!
  • Snow White
    • #3
    • 1st Sep 08, 3:08 PM
    • #3
    • 1st Sep 08, 3:08 PM
    My top tips:
    1) open your bank statements instead of binning them like I did.
    2) don't laugh at friends who have 'budgets' - ask them for advice
    3) work part-time if you can possibly fit it in with your studies. Student / union bars are fun, but you'll get better tips if you work somewhere posher.
    4) join a high-street temping agency in the holidays to find office work as and when you like. If you are computer-literate and well-presented you might get lucky!

  • Gemmzie
    • #4
    • 1st Sep 08, 7:21 PM
    • #4
    • 1st Sep 08, 7:21 PM
    Do not buy every book on your reading list! You won't need many of them at all and some only a chapter. Buy some photocopy credit and get into your library early and make copies! Then when the books are out later in the term, you'll be very popular with classmates when they want copies of your copy!
    No longer using this account for new posts from 2013
  • FreheitOverture
    • #5
    • 1st Sep 08, 9:48 PM
    • #5
    • 1st Sep 08, 9:48 PM
    Do not buy every book on your reading list! You won't need many of them at all and some only a chapter. Buy some photocopy credit and get into your library early and make copies! Then when the books are out later in the term, you'll be very popular with classmates when they want copies of your copy!
    Originally posted by Gemmzie

    Agreed. I used precisely one of my books, although in all honesty I will be using it for the rest of my life because its great. The internet makes books reasonably redundant these days.

    What I wish I was prepared to work in a bar if you need money. I refused to do so as I didnt want to deal with drunk !!!!!!!s and so it took me 6 months to find a job. By that time I had maxed out my overdraft and was borrowing money from my parents.

    Budgeting is a really good idea, I still don't but I have given up caring as I have a job. As long as I break even I'm not bothered, but it is personal preference.

    Aside from that I was reasonably well prepared and I really enjoyed my first year, which is always the most difficult to get used to. You are likely to get at least one awkward flatmate if in halls (mine was an actual schizophrenic, got drunk and tried to stab his best mate) but I'm sure they aren't all that bad
    • username
    • By username 1st Sep 08, 10:37 PM
    • 434 Posts
    • 151 Thanks
    • #6
    • 1st Sep 08, 10:37 PM
    • #6
    • 1st Sep 08, 10:37 PM
    Not a grad, but here's some of my advice (based upon what I have seen others do):

    1) Do not be afraid to open and read your bank statements.

    2) Overdrafts and credit cards are the bank's money, and they can ask for it back at any time. Do not sink needlessly into your overdraft; if you find you are, then look at opportunities where you can make money or cut back, for example, by getting a part time job or selling stuff you don't use/want anymore.

    If you are the "i must have it now" or "i like to shop and buy everything I see" type, then do not go near a credit card. Please.

    Do not overdraw your overdraft. Banks do not look too kindly upon this and will reward you with excessive fees amongst other not so good things (which can, if left undealt with, affect your ability to get mortgages/credit in future)

    3) Avoid cash where you can, it is far too easy to withdraw a tenner here and a tenner there and not know what on earth you spent it on.
    Use a debit card and you'll see where all of your money goes to. So if you see 100s going towards JD Wetherspoon then you know it's time to cut back.

    4) Always know what is in your account and what is going in and coming out, and how much. Get telephone/internet banking and check it every day or every few days or swing by the cash machine.

    5) Don't be afraid to ask for a student discount, it's always worth trying. Some places maybe fussy and insist you have an NUS card.
  • 3plus1
    • #7
    • 2nd Sep 08, 6:43 AM
    • #7
    • 2nd Sep 08, 6:43 AM
    Be careful when choosing your housemates. People can turn nasty when money enters the relationship and friends you have made at uni are not really people you've known very long. Don't be overly trusting.

    No one wants to get all the bills sorted out when you move into a student house, so volunteer to deal with this. That way you can make sure your name isn't on any of the expensive/contentious bills (e.g. phone bill) and you can put them in the names of the housemates you suspect are rubbish with money.

    If a bill is solely in your name and your housemates won't pay up for whatever pathetic reason, doesn't matter that the tenancy is in all of your names, the bill is your responsibility! It's your credit rating and the 'skint' ones are going to hope you'll pay it off and leave them alone. When the bill is in their name, of course you'll pay your share, but more importantly, they'll be more inclined to pay theirs too.

    This Forum Tip was included in MoneySavingExpert's weekly email

    Don't miss out on new deals, loopholes, and vouchers

    Last edited by MSE Deborah; 09-09-2008 at 6:41 PM. Reason: Typo
  • Sarahsaver
    • #8
    • 2nd Sep 08, 6:53 AM
    • #8
    • 2nd Sep 08, 6:53 AM
    Go to the fruit and veg market when it is shutting down, things will be so much cheaper.

    Working in a bar is good - for the money and the life experience! also you get to go out and get paid at the same time.

    get a receipt from the cashpoint and check them all off against your bank statement when it arrives.

    Don't lend money to people!

    Get quirky individual clothes from...not primark ffs! the CHARITY shop or second hand stalls.

    Do NOT go out every night so you forget what the day is, neither should you drink at lunchtime if you have a 3pm lecture.

    Do something which broadens your horizons, like voluntary work or try some new hobby. Many people spend their 3 years in a clique and don't really experience much at all.

    Revel in the fact that you are spending these years reading and learning. You may not get so much time again to do that! BUT theres always later for topping up qualifications...

    Speaking from personal experience, I am now 37 Went to uni from 1989 to 1994, and also did a part time course 4 years ago.
    Member no.1 of the 'I'm not in a clique' group
    I have done reading too!
    To avoid all evil, to do good,
    to purify the mind- that is the
    teaching of the Buddhas.
  • mboro
    • #9
    • 2nd Sep 08, 7:38 AM
    • #9
    • 2nd Sep 08, 7:38 AM
    Some brilliant advice and knowledge there peeps......good thread.

    Keep it coming!
  • alileonard
    Only thing extra I can think of at the mo is join a sports team.
    Even if you're not that great at sport, there's not just the uni teams, you can join a departmental or halls sports team. It's one of the easiest ways to make new friends, and AU nights are usually some of the best nights out you'll have.
    Plus it means you're doin a bit of exercise!
    • Nichelette
    • By Nichelette 2nd Sep 08, 2:11 PM
    • 1,820 Posts
    • 2,858 Thanks
    If I were to start uni again I'd definitely put my entire overdraft in an ISA and not touch it. I'd also have benefitted from making and sticking to a budget. The library usually has at least 10+ copies of core text books and some on 24 hour loan so get in there first to borrow those & avoid buying them. As others have mentioned I only really frequently used my textbooks in my third year.

    Also, if you don't need a car then don't have one, unfortunately I had to have one but it absolutely crippled me financially.
    Finally bought a home
    Starting mortgage 289,500 31.01.19 - Current outstanding 283,857.07
    MFW #86 - Aiming for 15k in 2019
    Overpayments so far: 3383.72
  • FreheitOverture
    Only thing extra I can think of at the mo is join a sports team.
    Even if you're not that great at sport, there's not just the uni teams, you can join a departmental or halls sports team. It's one of the easiest ways to make new friends, and AU nights are usually some of the best nights out you'll have.
    Plus it means you're doin a bit of exercise!
    Originally posted by alileonard
    Quoted for truth. I had never rowed before coming to university and now I love it. I've met loads of new people and we have a hell of a lot of fun
  • SavvyStudent
    I'm in my 6th year now of uni. When I started I was awful with money: I bought every textbook on the list (some are still unopened on the shelf!) - bear in mind the lecturers sometimes put books on the list because they wrote them! I lived on starbucks coffee, took the tube everywhere, went out drinking most nights, didn't look for bargains in the supermarkets, bought loads of clothes...

    Just bear in mind that none of those things are smart. Budget budget budget, plan your money ahead of time (for all the new freshers out there, you WILL need a deposit at the end of the year to put down on a flat for 2nd year, so don't spend it all!). Get textbooks from the library, use the legs you were given instead of the tube, look for bargains in the supermarket even if it means eating one thing in bulk for a week, invest in an insulated cup and BRING coffee to that 8.30 lecture, and ask yourself, do I really NEED that new pair of jeans... And definitely don't turn up to halls with a load of kitchen stuff. In most cases it's already there, if in need of a scrub. We had about 5 sandwich toasters in our flat...

    Unexpected costs are out there, especially when you're just starting out, so put some money aside if you can and expect them..!!


    Edit: also, I suspect as you're on this site you're probably not as naive as I was when I was 18... remember that a lot of the students out there (in london at least) are being funded by daddy and are MINTED. Don't fall into the same spending patterns as them!
    Last edited by SavvyStudent; 02-09-2008 at 5:37 PM. Reason: One more thing!
    Proud to live a frugal shabby chic life!
    • silvercar
    • By silvercar 2nd Sep 08, 6:50 PM
    • 38,874 Posts
    • 162,327 Thanks
    Don't try to be too independent. Just because you have left home doesn't mean you are out there on your own. You don't have to prove how independent you now are.

    Remember your parents are still there for advice, support and (occasionally) money.

    If your feeling lonely or need help with things, ring home.
  • princesslizzie
    You are not alone. In my first year, I felt like the only student in the world who was missing home and feeling so uncomfortable at uni. Just because all my housemates were getting trashed and looking happy, I thought they were. It took my friend from a different uni to tell me that I wasn't alone, and a lot of people feel like that.

    Don't move in with people in your 2nd year you think are nice. Chances are, they might be a slob, or be disrespectful. However, let me add, a "might" because not everyone is like that.

    Get a part time job, if you can. Just to get a bit of cash and escape the uni madness.

    Don't spend all your loan in the first week, it may look tempting, but you don't want to be living off beans for the rest of the year!
    • purplegirluk1
    • By purplegirluk1 2nd Sep 08, 9:14 PM
    • 1,457 Posts
    • 958 Thanks
    Hardship loans and grants are for everyone. I don't think they are called that now but any student can apply for a loan or a grant from a fund given to each universaty by the government. I had to apply three times whilst at uni five years ago. I was still living at home but costs were too much for me. You have to give them a list of your expenses and they decide if you are eligable. I think some students don't think they will get anything and don't apply but I always tell my friends to apply and some have been surprised to hear they are getting some funds.
  • morfoot
    About to enter third year and the biggest lesson I've learnt is to be realistic about what discounts you'll actually use. I tried to be as money-savvy as possible and signed up for all sorts of discount schemes and bought the NUS Extra card amongst a few others. Realistically though I never remembered to use the discounts and whenever I did I realised I was buying something I wouldn't have bought anyway. Find the offers on the things you need and would buy anyway and stick to those.
  • achafi
    Buy a bicycle, a sandwich box and a thermos flask.
    Use them every day.
    • beridor
    • By beridor 3rd Sep 08, 7:20 AM
    • 5 Posts
    • 5 Thanks
    Speak to people if you do get into financial trouble - your bank manager may be a glorified salesman looking to hit all sorts of targets but he can put a hold on your account and cause you many problems unless you are talking to him if you get into trouble.

    It's easy for us "oldies" to say - I'm 34 - but try and stay out of debt, I'm still suffering from spending too much in Uni and after graduating banking that I would get a good job. I have, I earn in excess of 50K a year now but the loan companies are still seeing more than their fair share of it and life gets harder when you want to buy a house, get married and have kids etc.

    But most of all enjoy it - i'd go back in a minute, those student women!!!!!
  • SpaceMagic
    1) Don't just go with your current bank account, shop around for the best student deal. Free cash or a CD player is worthless compared to the Rail Card Natwest offer if you're a frequent traveller. They also have a relatively good overdraft facility and a very fair graduate policy.

    2) If you can't afford saving your whole loan in an ISA, save some of it. In the first year I took 333.33 pounds of each loan payment (under a third of what they gave me each term) and put it in high interest savings. At the end of the year I had a 1000 saved. Now, the end of my third year, I have 3000 saved and I don't need the loan for my forth and final year! It means my balance will be under 10,000 when I finish (exc. interest).

    3) Budgeting is boring. It's as simple as that. Unfortunately we have to do it, especially when our outs heavily outweigh our inns while studying. My best tip would be to go to the cash machine every Monday morning and take out your limit. 60 for example. Then you can at least see your money going. If you need a bit more, limit it to 20 each time. I find, the fewer notes in your wallet, the less the urge to spend them.

    4) You don't have to eat badly while a student. I eat very well. Just remember some 'value' foods are only cheaper because they haven't spent their revenue on marketing. A fine example which most students will love is Custard Creams. Buy yourself a value pack and a Sainsbury's standard label pack. They're identical biscuits, yet the former is only 19p!

    4b) If you are a foody, treat yourself during your weekly shop. That way it wont get boring quickly. I'm not talking Truffle oil, but pick something you like which would normally be a bit out of your budget, and buy it. Save by having one less beer that week or not buying those really expensive cereals.

    4c) Alcohol is hard to resit. After you've had one drink, you want another. It's hard to resit and many students spend their life savings on a liquid which will only give you a headache in the morning. I'm not saying don't drink, but sensible drinking most nights is going to get you a good nights sleep and please the bank. If you want to 'go hard', why not buy your bottle of Vodka and drink before you make it out to the club. Not sure if alcoholism is endorsed on these forums, but this is simply a fact of student life. It would be irresponsible not to mention it!

    5) Costa, Starbucks, Nero, etc are a no no. Treat them not as a coffee but an outing to a posh restaurant. Once you have had the 3.50 coffee and the 2.50 cake, you've reached 'too expensive'. This is easily one of my main weaknesses.

    6) Be enterprising. There are often jobs around campus which offer a little money, book vouchers, Amazon credit, etc. Take advantage of this. My Uni offers 20 for just standing in front of a group of potential applicants and telling them how great uni life is. Simple money I say. If you can't find anything around campus go slightly further afield. You may not have the time for a fixed part time job, but there are always people looking for a little help around their office a few Saturdays a month.

    7) The library has to stock your course books. Why not do your homework there using these books rather than spending a lot buying them yourself. One nifty tip: the longer you spend in the library, the less you'll waste on heating bills and electricity at home!

    8) As a student you are still usually allowed to shop around for your Gas and Electricity. Check your contract. Use this site's price comparison link. Do this as soon as you get in your house, as contracts can lock you in for one year.

    8b) Remember to warn utility providers that you are leaving early. Pay your TV licence quarterly, that way you wont need to reclaim your money later saving you the hassle. Water is the same. Don't pay for the whole year, tell them you're all leaving the house in June so you don't have to pay throughout the summer when you're not there.

    8c) Do you really need a telephone line? With mobile phone contracts including so many free minutes, you wont really need the telephone. Likewise, internet is free at university so do you really need that unlimited line at home? If so, consider going with your mobile phone network as your ISP - they usually offer heavy discounts to their existing customers.

    Hope this helps you all, I'll add some more later I suspect!
Welcome to our new Forum!

Our aim is to save you money quickly and easily. We hope you like it!

Forum Team Contact us

Live Stats

91Posts Today

1,648Users online

Martin's Twitter
  • Have a great Easter, or a chag sameach to those like me attending Passover seder tomorrow. I?m taking all of next?

  • RT @rowlyc1980: A whopping 18 days off work for only 9 days leave! I?ll have a bit of that please......thanks @MartinSLewis for your crafty?

  • RT @dinokyp: That feeling when you realise that you have 18 days of work and only used 9 days of your annual leave! Thanks @MartinSLewis h?

  • Follow Martin