Times are undoubtedly tough at the moment so learning to manage your finances is an excellent life skill that everyone can benefit from. To help you maximise your wealth we have put together some financial advice for postgraduates.
By Elsa Tatam. Published 17 November 2022. Last updated 31 March 2023.
See what you can give up
This isn’t telling you to give up the things you enjoy and that motivate you. This is looking at the things you consistently are paying for, where you can easily cut back. For example, if you have a gym membership that you only use once a month, then that can be something you cut out. If you catch yourself ordering food every Friday because you’re too tired to cook, look to meal prep in the week in preparation for the dip in energy at the end of week. Do you always have five different lamps on in your living space? Decide which ones make your space as cosy as you would like, then turn off the rest.
Save the change
Save the change is a clever feature that takes your leftover change and builds it into bigger savings creating an excellent way to mindlessly save money. It works by rounding up the amount you spend to the nearest pound and transferring the difference into your savings account. For example, if your coffee costs £3.50, the bank will transfer 50p from your account you’re paying with into your savings account. Find out if your bank offers this service and make the most of it.
Cashback is a money saving method where cashback cards and websites essentially give you money back in your pocket as a reward for spending money, whether that reward is coming from your own bank card in your wallet or an online site- such as Quidco or TopCashBack. It works by you spending money and getting a percentage back from the provider and is a great way to save as you spend.
Browser add ons and vouchers
Another easy way to save money when shopping is by using vouchers and browser add ons. These can be downloaded as browser extensions, or they could be found through price comparison sites. A popular example of this is Honey. Honey is an online browser plugin that scours the internet for voucher codes at check out so that you don't have to. Once you’re about to pay, Honey will pop up if it has any vouchers that could save you money.
Learn about investing
If you’re lucky enough to have some money behind you, you might be interested in investing it. However, it can be an intimidating minefield to enter if you don’t know what you’re doing. Investing in its most simple terms means setting aside a sum of money for the future and buying into something that you believe will increase in value over time. You can invest in almost anything, from property and shares to wine or cryptocurrencies. However, given the risk you undertake in investing it is important that you get the right advice and do your research before committing any of your hard-earned savings.
There are so many excellent resources online for those looking to get into investing, for example Money Saving Expert do a fantastic beginners guide to investing.
Advice from those in the Know
Our alumnus, Colin Ngan, who works at Klarna says that if there was one piece of financial advice he would give to students, it would simply be to know where you're at – "what is going into and out of your bank account? Which sounds ridiculously basic, but as a student juggling life events and course assignments, it is easy for those direct debits to add up with various subscriptions to law journals, streaming services, etc. How many do you make the most of reading and watching? Do you really have time to make use of that club membership? Isn't there a better deal to the mobile/broadband price that seems to creep up with each contract renewal?".
Beyond that, "anyone can be overwhelmed both by trying to manage finances, as well as being inundated with an abundance of hints and tips; in periods of uncertainty—many have been going through—just having a small amount of flex can be of huge help to support money management when you’re just in need of something, e.g. the untimely demise of the laptop you use for your studies, but your incoming cash isn't in alignment – you may explore short-term interest-free borrowing”.
In general, as Colin suggests, "if you have the money in your account and can afford to spend it, it is better to put things on debit. However, there are certain times when credit makes sense, e.g. emergency / unexpected costs, or to reduce the unit price when bulk buying (in my law school days it was for reams of printer paper and ink cartridges, before the existence of online dissertation submissions). In these cases, make sure you use a reputable lender, make sure you read the Ts&Cs carefully (what legal postgrad wouldn't) and be aware of any and all potential fees”.
And don’t forget to check out our generous £2m scholarship fund. If successful, it will help fund your studies.