Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Managing Your Money at Bucks - A Students' Guide to Finance

How should students manage their money? Image: Wikipedia
Yesterday at Bucks our students had a talk by Julia Crooks from the Students' Union Advice Centre.  Julia came to our animation class to discuss the tricky question of student finances.  Not much to do with Animation and Visual Effects, you might think?  Well, yes and no.  Studying at University has never been more expensive, and it is harder than ever for students to manage the growing financial burden.  We want to make sure that all our students enjoy their time at Bucks, not just in terms of their academic studies, but in terms of the whole experience of being here. And that includes learning how to manage money.

Advice Centre at Bucks - free and confidential advice for all our students!

So, how do students manage their money? Julia started by talking about the Bucks Student Union advice centre, which offers free informal support to our students on a wide variety of subjects. It's completely confidential, and entirely independent from the university.  So you can go to them with a wide variety of problems, in the knowledge that what is discussed is strictly between yourselves.

Over 50% of enquiries at the Advice Centre are about money, and financial problems. The trick, said Julia, is for students to get off on the right footing, so that they start off with a sound financial plan.  Good planning is the most important thing.

No-one wants students to drop out, and it's no good to our students either if they are working so hard at a part-time job that they can't focus on their studies.

Comme Sisyphe - by Honoré Daumier. Online Collection of Brooklyn Museum

Financial Rule Number One: Make a Budget
So what is a budget? It is "an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time".   If your income is less than your expenditure, you will have problems - and this is a very common situation for many students.

How can students solve this problem? Answers include part-time work, the "bank of Mum and Dad",  or "the bank of extended family".  It is possible, argues Julia, to balance things out so that you end the year in surplus if you plan your finances carefully.

Food - less important than rent? Image by Rlsheehan courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Rule Number Two: Make priorities
Rent, Food, Going Out, Transport. Which is more important? All our students agreed: rent. Or food. Or both. But rent costs more, so this is the primary expense, and the biggest priority.  Students get evicted from their accommodation every year for non-payment of rent.  This can be a disaster, since students can lose their home and still be liable for the rest of the term of the lease.  Again, with good planning, disasters like this can be avoided.

Rule Number Three: Save money where you can
If you have a little money left over at the end of the month, save it! Don't blow it on nights out in the student bar.  You never know when you will need extra cash for some kind of crisis.

A useful website
Rule Number Four: get help and advice
One super useful website is, which has tons of expert advice on ways to save money, find the best bank account, and much more. 

Rule Number Five: Check your bank statements
Banks make mistakes. Check your statements to make sure nothing fishy is going on. Check for mistakes and don't get caught out.

Specialists in Students Insurance

Rule Number Six: Insure your belongings
Every year, the Student Union at Bucks hears from students who have had their belongings stolen. Replacing laptops is expensive, whereas insuring the laptop in the first place is far cheaper (around £50).  But which insurer should a student go with? Again, comparison websites are a good place to start. Endsleigh specialise in insuring students, and is a good place to start.

NUS card brings savings

Rule Number Seven: Ask for a discount!
Lots of businesses, especially in High Wycombe, will offer students a discount.  Always ask - many businesses will offer 10% off or more for students.  And, get hold of a National Union of Students (NUS) card for national discounts outside of High Wycombe.

Rule Number Eight: Get a student bank account
Banks will offer special discounts for students to encourage them to bank with them. The banks want your business - make them work for it.

For more on the experience of studying at Bucks New University, come and visit us at one of our Open Days,  take a virtual tour of one of our animation studios, check out what our students think of our course, and see why we're ranked in the top 12 creative universities in the UK. Find out why we're giving free laptops to all our students, and why we give all our students free access to videos at Also, see what financial assistance might be available to you. Learn which is better for animation, a PC or a Mac? Get hold of a copy of a map so you can find your way around campus, and learn about motion capture at Bucks.  

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