Going off to uni is a very exciting time in the life of any young person, but while student life can be wild and fun, it can also be difficult, financially, because you're skint most of the time. Students loans help, but if you don't want to go into too much debt, or you just need to mind your pennies, then what you're going to need is a budget, and what can help is a student finance calculator. This is a good time to practice for when you'll have your own place and will need to keep a budget all on your own.
Step 1 - See how much you can get in loans
Most students in the UK benefit from student loans in order to pay for their tuition fees, and even for that little extra to help out with rent and other expenses. But do you know exactly how much you need to borrow? And if that's going to cover everything? Will one loan suffice, or do you also need to apply for a maintenance loan? These questions can be answered by finance calculators such as the one offered by GOV.uk. This allows you to estimate both student loans and additional student funding.
Step 2 - Figure out what your total budget is
Now that you know how much money you're going to get, you can also start thinking about your total budget. This is the amount that you will have available to spend in a month. How do you figure that out? You can use one of the available finance calculators, of course! That can help by calculating how much disposable income you're going to have. Check out the one made available by Citizens Advice!
Step 3 - Work out how much you can dedicate to each category
But even if you know how much money you have each month, you still need to come up with a budget that's broken down by category. So, how do you figure out how much money to assign for each category, like food, school books, fun & leisure, etc. That's where a finance calculator like the budget planner from Money Advice Service comes in handy, to do the heavy lifting and break your budget down into increments and percentages: 10% for leisure, 15% for food, 5% for clothes, etc.
Step 4 - Cut back on unnecessary expenses
But even with this set budget, you might discover that you are, perhaps, spending too much in certain categories. That means it's time to cut back on unnecessary expenses. Maybe switch to some own brand products instead of name brand, start bringing your meals to uni, and leave take-away coffee as a weekend treat, instead of your daily coffee run at Starbucks. You'll be surprised at how much money you can save if you implement small changes.
Step 5 - See if you are eligible for benefits
You may not even realise it, but you may be entitled to some extra money, depending on your circumstances. Do you know what kind of benefits you may be eligible for? Luckily, Money Saving Expert has a benefits calculator that can help you figure out if and how much you're entitled to.
Step 6 - Seek advice
If you're still struggling, you might consider seeking advice from financial experts. Nowadays, it's easier than ever - and free! - to consult experts, because they're all online. You can either go on their websites or take the low-effort way out and just follow them on Twitter; that way, you can go ahead and just read the content you are directly interested in and that suits your needs.
In conclusion, student life comes with its own set of challenges, including financial ones, and as a student, you need to find a way to budget for your academic experience. Student finance calculators can help you out with figuring out how to best manage your money.