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There’s a lot to take into consideration when starting university and it may be the first time you’re living away from home. A big concern for many students is budgeting, which is why we’ve put together our top 10 tips that can help you be financially prepared and enjoy your time at university without the worry of money getting in the way.

1. Use your NUS Extra Card

One of the biggest perks that comes with being a student is being able to get your hands on a NUS student card. Your student card will entitle you to discounts at a wide range of places including Superdrug, ASOS and a whole lot more. It’s also worth signing up for UNiDAYS for more great deals and even asking when you’re out and about if you can get student discount. You never know where you can make some savings!

2. Shop around

It’s worth exploring around Chester and Warrington to see where you can get the best deals. There are a variety of markets, such as Chester Market, or Warrington Market, which provide a wealth of local businesses selling delicious fresh food often at a fraction of the price of big supermarkets.

3. Don’t be fooled by big name brands

You may feel like you can’t live without a certain brand, but in reality you often find very little difference between the big name brands and supermarket own brands. Plus own brands are usually significantly cheaper, helping you save a few pennies!

4. Don’t get too many takeaways

We realise that there are lots of great choices for food in Chester and Warrington, and while a takeaway as a treat every now and then isn’t going to hurt, eating out or getting takeaways too often can soon prove to be very expensive. Some alternative options can be partnering up with flatmates to cook dinner together, freezing leftovers for another day and ensuring you’ve got food at home after nights out, so you’ve got a cheaper and healthier option to deal with those munchies rather than being tempted by the kebab shop!

5. Avoid credit cards

Credit cards may seem like a brilliant idea at first – being able to spend to your heart’s content and not having to worry about paying it off until later. However, you do have to pay it off at some stage, and often, minimum monthly payments barely cover the cost of interest, leaving you with a balance that is incredibly difficult to clear. A better option is speaking to your bank about what options you have available. They may be able to offer you a student account with benefits or an interest-free overdraft to help in those times when money is a bit tight.

6. Don’t blow your student loan! 

It’s easy to go shopping and spend a chunk of money on new outfits, technology or even a few big nights out. However, if you don’t set a budget, it’ll soon disappear!

Work out what you’re likely to spend money on each week, such as books, food and commuting costs, and be realistic with the social life budget too. You’ll want to go out, but remember why you’re at university and prioritise what’s important.

Once you have worked out a weekly budget, you could then put your loan in a savings account and set up a transfer to your current account to pay yourself a weekly allowance. However, try not to dip into the rest of the loan between payments, this will really help you manage your money more effectively.

7. Review your spending

Once you’ve got yourself settled in and you’re getting to grips with life at university, review your spending so you know exactly where your money is going. You might find that now you need less for clothes and activities, but need to put more aside for food. Once you’ve worked out a new budget, adjust your weekly payment, but be sure you have enough to last the rest of the term.

8. Look at ways to save money

It sounds like common sense, and that’s because it is! If you’re planning on going home during the holidays, get your trains and coaches booked early instead of at the end of term when prices will be going up. Don’t forget, as a student you may qualify for a Railcard which gives you 1/3 off fares.  

9. Get a bike

These are significantly cheaper to own than a car, better for the environment and better for your health! With each of our campuses having areas where you can lock up your bike safely, it makes commuting even easier.

10. Get a part-time job

Here at the University of Chester we have lots of employment opportunities. Our Careers and Employability team provide employment schemes such as UniJob and Work Shadowing, which can help you find work whilst at University, and once you’ve graduated.

Chester Students’ Union also employs a number of students on student-friendly contracts across its shops and bar. What’s more, with our campuses located within easy reach of Chester or Warrington, you won’t have to go far to find opportunities for part-time work.

Want to know more?

If you would like further information or advice about managing your money, you can make an appointment with a member of staff from Student Welfare, part of our fantastic Student Futures team.

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