Students: tips for managing your finances

Have you been baffled by some of the information on your payslip? Would you know how to protect yourself against fraud? Here are some tips on managing your money

January 12 2018
Piggy bank and books

Financial education has been on the national curriculum since 2014 but students are still leaving school without knowing how to manage their money.

The 2017 National Student Money Survey found that 84 per cent of university students are stressed about money, one in two fail to understand their loan agreement, and 75 per cent wish that they had received better financial education.

At Young Money (a branch of Young Enterprise which helps students to learn how to manage money) we are working to remedy this. We work with teachers and schools throughout the country using our financial education planning frameworks. Our frameworks outline the knowledge, skills and attitudes that students should be developing from the age of three up to 19.

Such skills can be taught in maths, citizenship or Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE) classes, and although there isn’t an end-of-year exam in money management, it is an essential life skill and failing to develop it can have a big impact on students’ mental health and their overall well-being.

Learning about money from an early age is important especially as, on average, children start to receive pocket money from the age of seven and can open a bank account from 11, when they are increasingly exposed to online shopping and app purchases. However, it is never too late to learn more about money. 

If you have ever wondered what an Annualised Percentage Rate (APR) is, had questions about the financial ombudsman, or struggled to know where to start with setting a budget, don’t worry: you are not alone, and there is action that you can take.

See if you can answer the questions below. If you can, but are still feeling a bit rusty, review our suggestions of sites where you can refresh your knowledge.

Can you identify and avoid different types of fraud?

If you are not sure what phishing, vishing or smishing scams are, take the Take Five test to see if you are likely to be duped by a fraudulent text or email. If you are unsure why you would need to set social media privacy settings, watch a short Cifas YouTube video to find out how much private data you are putting at risk.


The cost of studying at a university in the UK
Student finance help and advice
Tips for managing money when you have budgeting blues
How to receive funding as a disadvantaged student


Can you read a payslip?

More than 59 per cent of young people aged 16 to 17 do not understand the information on their payslip. Did you know that if you add a “0” to the numbers in your tax code, this tells you how much you are allowed to earn each year before paying income tax? Find out more about your payslip using Barclays LifeSkills – Payslips Explained.

Can you stick to a budget?

Creating a budget is about being realistic about the income that you have and your expenditure over a given period. If your expenditure is too high, you may need to prioritise spending on the essentials. The Money Advice Service has an interactive budget planner that helps you to set a budget and, more importantly, stick to it.

Do you know how, where and when to seek financial advice?

Managing your money can be difficult and mistakes can be costly. It is important to understand that there might be times when you need to seek help and advice, and it is worth knowing about where you can go to get it. Citizens Advice online, or your local Citizens Advice Bureau, is a source of free, confidential and impartial advice.

How do you choose a bank account?

You’ll need a bank account to apply for student finance and get through university. You’ll want to shop around investigating freebies, overdrafts and fees to find the account that works best for you. The Student MoneyManual from the Money Charity is an essential guide with top tips for finding the right account. Remember, the freebies may appeal, but it is more important to find an account that is a good fit for you.

Michael Mercieca is the chief executive of Young Enterprise

Read more: guide to student bank accounts in the UK

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