Money, Money, Money – University Tips!

A session looking at university, moving away and managing money aimed at 18 year olds.

Items Needed: You’ll need the sheets downloadable here

Ice Breaker: What is the most expensive thing you have ever purchased? How long did it take to save up for it? 

Theme Introduction: Ask the group if they’re worried about the financial side of university…give them an opportunity to share their worries.

Brainstorm: On a piece of paper brainstorm all the things that they might be spending money on. (Rent, electricity, gas, TV licence, internet, mobile contract, books for university, clothing, bedding, washing machines, going out, food, giving to charity/church, contents insurance)

Ask: How will you get income at university?

Explain: Throughout life you’ll be managing money and it’s a great skill to learn. We live in a world where people want things straight away and where often, people feel the need to “keep up with the Jones’”. We are bombarded by adverts telling us we can get money before payday and simply pay it back later or maybe get a credit card or buy a TV and pay it back over a matter of months but it’s not that simple.

These companies want you to fail. Credit card companies only make money if you don’t pay your bill in full. Payday loans and getting things in advance may seem like a great idea but the small print means you’ll actually pay a lot more for that money or item.

Thousands of people get into debt (not including student loans) and credit card companies, loan companies and banks can be nasty when you don’t pay.

If we learn skills on budgeting now then we can put them into practice in the future.

University

When you go off to university budgeting will be a challenge. For most people there is a monthly income i.e. I get paid £1,300 a month but you won’t…you’ll have a student loan payment 3 times a year…plus anything you earn if you work a job at the same time.

Other payments can be a bit odd as well…for example your rent might come out in termly instalments too!

Ask: How do you feel about budgeting? Have you thought about it before? Have you had any experience of it?

Fixed & Variable Expenses

Explain: There will be 2 types of incomes and outcomes you’ll have at university. Fixed and variable

Fixed outgoings will be things like your rent, TV licence, any utility bills etc.

Fixed income will be things like your student loan and any bursaries you can get from the university.

Variable expenses are things that vary from month to month.

Variable outgoings might be things like your food bills, travel expenses (bus, train), washing etc.

Variable income might be things like wages (i.e. if you work more hours one month and less another).

Balancing The Books

The trick is to make sure that you know where your money is. Getting into debt at university is going to happen because that’s the way that things are but it’s important to make sure that you are wise about how you spend your money and minimise the debt.

There is a free excel database linked on your ‘Top Tips’ sheet which you can use to keep track of income and outcome (perhaps demonstrate this on a laptop). You could also use an app…one example is Pocketbook (which is free) – link to the app

Try and think about how much you’re spending.

Nights Out

If you’re going on a night out set yourself a budget and maybe don’t even take your bank-card with you so you won’t be tempted to take out more.

Perhaps invite friends over to your flat rather than going out every night…it’s cheaper to buy a bottle of coke or 4 pack of beer for an evening than to spend a night in a club!

Food

You need to eat but you need to spend money wisely. You might like to plan out meals for a week or you might not…it’s certainly worth buying some plastic tubs at the start so you can freeze meals!

Brands

When you go shopping remember you don’t always need brands. There’s not a massive difference between Sainsburys coke and Pepsi. Look at for special offers but be wise that sometimes these offers aren’t actually good value. If you use a supermarket that has a loyalty scheme then grab a card…nothing to lose!

Some value products are really no different from branded…basics lasagne sheets or pasta are cheap…if you spend 10p on something and don’t like it you can always buy something different next time…but if you like it then you’ve saved yourself 90p each time you buy that product!

Supermarkets Vs. Markets

If you’re in a city that has a market then check it out. Often fruit, veg and fresh meat are a lot cheaper at a market than a supermarket and you’re supporting the local economy too!

Try and avoid convenience supermarkets. Tesco Metro and Express stores have higher prices than a normal supermarket and less choice so you ultimately end up spending more.

Set a Budget

It’s worth setting yourself a budget for food…you’ll have some weeks when your shop is more expensive and weeks when it’s cheaper so perhaps a monthly budget would work better for you?!

Don’t Be Ashamed To Ask

Finally when it comes to money don’t be afraid to ask for help. Often when people get into serious debt they close up and don’t tell people but this doesn’t help and often makes things worse.

Your university will have a finance office. You can talk to them if you’re having money issues and they might be able to offer you a loan (although check the interest rates!) or a food package.

Talk to parents…it might be a tricky subject to bring up and you might want to feel independent but they will have wisdom!

Talk to someone at your church or even your youth worker at home…they might have some useful information to say.

Pray about it! – Remember God is with you and you can talk to Him too!

Closing

Close the session by giving people an opportunity to ask questions and go through the handouts.