‘Don’t Believe the Hype’ Student Finance

National Student Money Week is taking place from 4th to 8th March, aiming to promote financial well-being and provide students with the support and information they need regarding their finances and expenses. This can cover tips on saving money, budgeting and reducing the risk and uncertainty that comes with many financial decisions. It is organised by the National Association of Student Money Advisors along with the financial education platform Blackbuilion. This year’s theme is ‘Less Risk, More Reward: Maintaining Your Financial Wellbeing At University’, and the University also has several National Student Money Week Events on campus.  

For this blog, I will cover a range of areas concerning finance, such as being safe/secure when shopping online, purchases that seem ‘too good to be true’ and schemes that are actually detrimental to you and do more harm than good. I will finish off with some general tips I have found useful for saving money while at University, for example using travel passes and making the most of Student Discounts. 

Staying Safe/Secure Online 

As shopping online and using the internet is ingrained in our daily lives, it is essential to know how to keep yourself safe and secure online to ensure your card/bank information and data are not stolen/leaked or incorrectly used. To be financially responsible, remember to use different strong passwords on every site you use, with a mixture of characters and numbers (and avoiding patterns and obvious combinations). Aim to always use secure networks (for example, public Wi-Fi is not secure, so if you are using this, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)) to avoid card information/data being stolen. There are many scams online, and even phishing scams over text or email that may ask for your card information. Verify that they are genuine by looking at reviews and checking for any spelling/grammatical errors. Another added layer of safety would be to set up two-factor authentication to ensure that any purchases being made with your card are in fact your own and stay informed about your bank activity by checking transactions and login attempts. 

‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ Schemes 

Try to avoid ‘buy now, pay later’ schemes, as they often have high-interest rates for them to be profitable to the company running them. If you miss a payment, especially as the target audience using something like this are those that are not in the financial position to keep up with them, you may be charged additional late fees and interest. It may also be difficult to keep track of, and it could come as a surprise when the time comes to make another payment and find out you don’t have enough after a payment comes up for other important things. If you do not currently have enough money for something and do not have a regular income that you can depend on, it is probably a better idea to save up until you are secure enough to make the purchase. Some banks also have an ‘arranged overdraft’ for students that has no interest (during the period you are a student), so if you have a regular income and can pay it back while you are still in University, you could consider this as a last resort instead of ‘buy now, pay later’ schemes.

Online Shopping (‘Too Good To Be True’ and ‘Unnecessary Expenditures’)    

Online shopping has become one of the easiest and most convenient ways to shop, be it clothing, groceries or household items. It is very useful, and there are many ways to use it effectively to reduce costs. You can use Student Discounts and compare prices, as well as having time to think about whether a purchase is worth it or not (unlike shopping in person where you may make impulse purchases due to time restrictions). However there are many ways online shopping could be harmful, such as traps or scams that can steal your card information, marketing that makes you feel as though you need to buy something/you are gaining something from it/you are missing out if you don’t buy it immediately, peer pressure/social media making you feel like the items are essential. The list goes on! Always check if sites are authentic, check reviews (e.g. on Trustpilot) and try not to spend too much money somewhere you have never shopped before. Certain sites will always show deals such as “15% off only for a few days” when in fact the sales are always on and they are attempting to pressure people into buying quickly, and more than they originally intended to. Social media and influencers are always constantly promoting items that may seem essential, especially with how they are described during ads, but in fact, are usually not worth it or necessary. Trends also come and go, leading to high consumerism and buying items you never end up using. Before making a purchase, always think about whether the item is actually worthwhile to you and whether you need it or can afford it. Try to buy less and invest in items you know you will keep and use for a long time. Keep track of everything and plan it into your budget before making any impulse purchases.  

General Money Saving Tips 

Here I will list a few things that I have found useful to save money during my years at University. You can check for bus/travel passes if you travel often or go into town a lot (e.g. for grocery shopping, going out with friends), which may save money in the long run (for example Reading Buses have student tickets and passes). You should always make sure you are making the most of Student Discounts by checking what is available online, as many stores have great deals for students. You can buy items (such as clothing, cooking supplies, books etc.) second-hand, which is also more sustainable, environmentally friendly, and cost-effective. You can also learn to cook and buy items at grocery stores while on sale. A lot of stores have sales on bakery items later on in the day. Always think twice before buying something, plan grocery trips/expenditures in advance and put it into your budget to avoid unwanted surprises. Keep track of any subscriptions (e.g. storage, streaming services) and check your bank account often to know what you can afford. When going out, try not to spend too much on food/drink that may be overpriced and can add up quickly over time. If you can afford it, you shouldn’t constantly miss out on fun activities but instead, plan them into your budget and allocate your money wisely. Regular purchases such as coffee from coffee shops add up quickly and can easily be switched out to save money.  

National Student Money Week is a great way to help students think about their spending and finances and become more financially responsible. It is a helpful reminder to be safe, secure and wise with your money, and gives students access to support and aid in their financial well-being.

How can you participate in National Student Money Week? You may find one of the events on campus useful to attend. Start by planning a budget and checking your bank account often to keep track of your purchases and save for the future. Think twice before making purchases, question marketing and whether sites are legitimate and safe. Set up two-factor authentication wherever possible to ensure you are being as secure as you can be to avoid card information/personal information being stolen.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *