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Why if you are not careful the first few weeks of the academic year can be bad for your budget.

Why if you are not careful the first few weeks of the academic year can be bad for your budget.

Whether you are in your first, second or even your final year of your course, the start of the academic year brings so many opportunities to do different things.

Unfortunately, most of these also involve spending your money. How you manage your money at the start of the year really can set the tone for the rest of the year. Read on to learn more about why the start of the year is an important time to get into good habits.

During the first few weeks of term, it is easy to feel like you have more money than you really do. When you get your student finance, you can be fooled into feeling quite rich which in itself is exciting. For most students, this is likely to be the most money you will have ever had. However, this money must last until your next loan instalment in January/April, which believe us, is a very long time. If you are not careful it is far too easy to wake up after fresher's fortnight with a 'financial hangover' that will last the rest of term (or even year) as you try and get your budget back on track.

During the start of the year, there is so much going on and, in line with most transition periods, it is exciting, unsettling and scary all at the same time. The first few weeks of term also offer the opportunity to eat out more, socialise more and generally spend more than you would at other times of the year.

Before you buy all those things think you need, work out your budget, pay your rent or other essential bills and move the rest of your money into a savings account. You can then set up a regular weekly transfer into your current account - a bit like paying yourself a weekly allowance or wage - making it easier to budget.

The risk is that if you don't do this now while you have money, you will not only spend too much, but you will also have nothing to budget with later in the term. Managing your money is a challenge for all students but it is a real challenge for anyone to budget when you have spent too much money and still have six more weeks until your next loan instalment. In addition, worrying about money will make it harder for you to concentrate on your studies which can lead to problems later in the year.

Other tips for managing your money at the start of the academic year are: -

Watch out for scams - scammers know when your student finance drops. Be extra vigilant for scammers saying they are your bank, your university, the Student Loans Company or an energy provider. None of these will ever call you and ask you to move your money somewhere safe. Don't click on links in texts or emails unless you are sure what they are. If in doubt don't do it, give yourself time to check things out and go back to it later.

Talk about money - your housemates are likely to be in the same situation as you. It is perfectly acceptable to say you can't afford to go out tonight/tomorrow but would like to do something else. You will probably find they are delighted that someone has had the courage to say something. Money tends to be something we are ashamed of talking about, we keep it a secret and associate it with self-worth. But in reality the more we talk about it the better we will feel.

Pick your events wisely - most Student Unions will have cheap or low-cost events. Check out what is available and don't feel you have to go to everything.

Don't lend or borrow money...unless - it is from a safe source such as your family or your bank. Your university may be able to lend you money if your student loan has not arrived for some reason so if you need help just ask. It is a decision only you can make but it is good to be cautious about lending money to others, especially if you don't know them very well. Difficulties may arise if they don't repay you. It may be a better idea to signpost to help in the university where staff are trained to assist with money problems.


Learning to live within our means is not something that is unique to students. It is a skill we all must grasp if we want to go on to be successful adults, parents, homeowners etc. However, it is reasonable to recognise that we will all make mistakes with our money at some point on this journey. The important thing to recognise what has gone wrong and learn from it. If you need help with your budget or any aspect of your money then don't lie awake at night worrying, talk to someone either in your university or at one of the organisations that specialise in money advice. You will find some information about a number of these below.


Money Advice Trust
A national advice charity offering support on all things money related
An excellent student budgeting tool

Action Fraud
Information about scams and how to report them.

Lots of bit sized information to help you manage your money and improve your wellbeing

Student Minds
Resources to support you and your wellbeing

By Lynne Condell - Student Money Advice Specialist

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