Student budgeting: the struggle is real
Written by Charlotte Sides
Written by Charlotte Sides
Research has exposed a gap in money management education ahead of students embarking on university, prompting renewed calls for lessons to be compulsory on the school curriculum. We offer budgeting tips for students feeling the pinch.
Almost three in four students struggle to budget as a result of never being taught, recent research has suggested.
Findings from the latest Student Money Survey reveal 70% of students wish they’d had a better financial education, suggesting that the vast majority of young people lack basic money management skills when starting out at university.
This echoes the suggestion by a 2017 study that education about money has stalled, with many secondary schools “failing to provide young people with more information and guidance about financial matters”. In fact, the researchers estimated that just 40% of schools were delivering financial education.
What’s more, a lack of guidance from — or a poor example set by — parents could be exacerbating the problem, leaving students with a poor understanding of how to keep to a tight budget.
Russell Winnard, head of programmes and services at Young Money, says: “Financial capability is an essential life skill and a lack of financial education can affect nearly every aspect of a young person’s life, from their mental wellbeing to their performance at work and even their personal health.
“Going to university can be the first experience many young people have of living independently. The need to manage their money effectively is vital as they take on the responsibility of paying utility bills and budgeting for their spending,” he adds.
Since being a student today means having to do even more with even less, accessing advice and support around managing your money is even more critical.
“Most students expect to feel hard up to an extent, but with the cost of university at an all-time high, the ability to be smart with what little money they have is so important — and yet many schools are failing to prepare young people with this basic skill,” explains Ashley Tate, chief executive officer at online student bill-sharing tool Split the Bills.
“Fortunately, until financial education is a compulsory part of the curriculum, there is plenty of advice available — for current and prospective students, but also for parents,” she adds.
If you’re about to embark on university life, the following tips should help you make your money go further:
The ability to live within your means is as important after you graduate and beyond as it is while you’re studying. Yet recent research shows that more than half of over-18s who have finished their education and returned to live at home enjoy rent-free living, while the remaining 45% pay £194 a month on average.
“Maintaining the budgeting skills you learn at university is important to take you through the rest of your life,” Ashley adds. “If you’re able to benefit from not paying rent for a while after you graduate, take the opportunity to put some money aside in a high-interest savings account to safeguard your future.”