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University - 1st Year - Planning - Living Expenses

(63 Posts)
lookoveryourshouldernow Fri 12-Apr-13 22:43:14


We are trying to put together a "budget" plan for our son's University education this September - fingers crossed for his results...

Excluding accommodation / books does anyone has a "feel" for the amount of the money that a student would need to survive on a weekly basis ???

I guess costs would include bus fares /food / entertainment / clothes / small extras etc etc etc..

Any insight on a weekly amount would be greatly appreciated ??

Thank You

boomting Sat 13-Apr-13 03:54:20

It's always more in first year, before they have learned how to manage their money, and before they have found all the cheapest places to buy food etc.

Some things have huge geographical variations eg local public transport -some places it's not necessary, others have good value bus passes, and others still have expensive systems requiring you to but a return every day (consider cycling!)

Food comes to around £25pw if you eat well but not extravagantly.

All in all I think I averaged around £80-90pw in first year, though I could have got it lower if it was necessary. This was in a large northern city last academic year.

Don't forget to budget for
-initial set up costs like bedding and kitchen equipment
-freshers week
-deposit for second year house of £300-400
-society costs (it was an expensive sport but I spent the best part of a grand in first year on sport though that did include kit, travelling to numerous fixtures and a week in France)
-cost if train fares home
-contingency -something will go wrong, and it's no good having no money to deal with the situation

boomting Sat 13-Apr-13 03:56:21

PS sorry for bad typing I'm on my phone and learning to use Swype!

And on that note don't forget to budget for phone costs, and he will need a laptop too if he hasn't already got one.

MarjorieAntrobus Sat 13-Apr-13 04:13:22

What we have done with ours is to pay their accommodation (but not food) for them, then they have lived on the Student Finance maintenance loan.

NewFerry Sat 13-Apr-13 08:26:28

We have done the same as Marjorie, this has given DS over £100 pw, and last year he came home with about £500 unspent.
This year (2nd) he has paid all his energy bills from his min loan and is still managing comfortably.
Other factors are, depending on the course he takes your DS may be able to supplement his loan by part time term time working. Plus depending on your income he may qualify for a uni bursary.
DS only gets the min loan & has a very full on week so we have discouraged him from term time working, but he does do some casual work through an agency over the hols.

fussychica Sat 13-Apr-13 15:33:17

DS has managed on approx. £80pw for each of his two years so far - first in halls, second in a shared house excluding rent/utilities.
In addition, we pay his phone and his fares home at the start & end of term.

melodyangel Sat 13-Apr-13 21:08:38

Oh dear is that really how much they need? I was thinking about £50 per week with maintenance loan covering rent.

Do you think it is better for parents to pay rent and leave them to manage the day to day costs themselves from the loan?

NewFerry Sat 13-Apr-13 22:15:08

A lot can also depend on whether or not they are in an expensive city.

But I think that coping on £50 pw for 40 weeks will be hard when you are first learning to budget, and there are travel costs, books, membership fees etc to pay. I think that just freshers week cost my DS ~£150 between tickets, drinks etc.
Obviously the rest of the year was much cheaper.

mumblechum1 Sun 14-Apr-13 06:17:36

I'm also going to pay DS's accommodation of about £5k, and he'll have to live on the student loan of about £3.3k.

Before he goes I'm going to sit him down and explain about how to budget, as he'll get 3 chunks of money from the loan company and don't want him to blow it!

I'll be advising him to get the loan paid into a current account, transfer all that into a savings account and then set up a direct debit (if that's poss) from savings to current of about £70 pweek for food & entertainment (he'll be in walking distance from everything so no taxis), with the other £30 or whatever it is staying in savings until he has a big bill to pay.

We'll still feed and house him in the hols so the loan only has to cover about 35 weeks of the year, I think.

NewFerry Sun 14-Apr-13 09:53:58

We did very similar, but heavily front loaded it for the first couple of weeks when DS paid £100 for annual sports club membership, £200 for freshers fortnight inc a few takeaway meals, £150 for books, and £100 for student rail card and train travel home, plus £100 for incidentals.
Then split what was left between the remaining weeks of term.
Luckily he had a couple of hundred saved from his part time job, and we were very firm in telling him that while we expected him to do his best, we were to be first people he called if he got in a muddle and we would help him out rather than take out overdrafts or credit cards.

creamteas Sun 14-Apr-13 12:37:04

The cost of living varies enormously between universities, but also the expectations students have on their lifestyle.

I have student's managing perfectly well on about £40 (excluding rent and bills) and others who struggle and think they are penniless when they have £100. Of course, the latter tend to confuse 'want' and need grin

Moominmammacat Sun 14-Apr-13 16:43:51

We're planning on paying for accommodation, including food for DS but am suggesting he earns enough before he goes/while he's there for everything else. So long as he manages a few thousand saved before he goes, I think it should work.

boomting Sun 14-Apr-13 20:48:11

melodyangel £50pw is absolutely fine for day-to-day expenses like food, toiletries and nights out. BUT there are lots of large expenses that are unevenly spread out across the year. For me, a return ticket to visit the family is £40 (I come home 3-4 times during the year, plus summer) annual bus pass is £200 (whilst I cycle, 90% of students here have a bus pass), sports club membership was £70, textbooks variable but up to £25 per book (I do a subject where it is often pointless buying old editions as some aspects go out of date very quickly), freshers week £150, bike service £120 (lots of new parts needed last time!), sports training camp £400, sports kit £90, house deposit + agents fee £430 . . . you start to get the idea.

It's not realistic to think that you could budget for all the above expenses from £50pw, hence the disparity between you thinking that £50pw would be adequate and others saying that the average is more like £80.

melodyangel Sun 14-Apr-13 22:15:49

Ok but £50pw not unreasonable for everyday stuff?

He has been working since September so has some savings so will be able to fund freshers week and I have a feeling my DM will send him a little to help. If there isn't anything left over from the rent we will fund the books and we will set him up with first load of shopping. I can't see he will be wanting to join any sports stuff what so ever but music maybe although probably happy to just hang with mates and jam.

No travel expenses to get to uni really and fare home not more than £15 and he has railcard already.

So is it best to pay rent for them and make them live off student loan or give them some each week.

He is going to be in London BTW

Sorry for the thread hijack!

boomting Mon 15-Apr-13 03:39:11

You didn't mention he was going to be in London :S

I wouldn't be certain that £50 pw will be enough in that instance. London is much more expensive, notoriously so, and the figures I gave were based on life in a northern city. For instance, I have heard of deposits for houses of over £1000 per person. A friend of a friend calculated that for every £30 he spent up north his friend at UCL was spending £ 80, though I have no knowledge of their relative budgeting skills / lifestyle. I think the best guide as to what is reasonable is to look at how much he would get if you were on a low income, including any uni bursary, details of which will be on the uni website. That's what many of his peers will be living off.

The examples that I have were just those that I have experienced. Your son will, of course have different ones, and music societies will still cost to join; instrument maintenance costs too. Don't prejudge what your soon might get involved with. I was THE least likely person to join a sports society - my parents and friends at home were all shocked, but I was really heavily involved for a good 18 months. And I was always the kid at school forging excuse notes for PE!. One if the brilliant things about uni is the ability to get involved with really random stuff you never would have done otherwise.

How you organise the giving of money is up to you, clearly, but I think it is a really useful skill to learn to budget a lump sum like a student loan

Will he be able to return to his current job in the holidays?

PS apologies for appalling typing -I'm on my phone.

sashh Mon 15-Apr-13 06:35:27

As well as a budget for the year do one for freshers week.

I was in my 30s when I went to uni so didn't do much for freshers but I know some people spent a lot of money, much more than they intended.

A lot depends on the uni and the city. Most halls are walking distance to the main campus, some are not.

It's often cheaper to buy some form of travel card if you have to take a bus/tube.

I've been to a total of 5 unis (don't ask) at one you could pre pay a card to use in the uni.

I did this because anything you bought you got 5-10% discount but, and I think this is very sensible, you could only buy alcohol with it as part of a meal so for parents 'topping' up the card (you could do it from 2 accounts, 1 for the student 1 for the parent) you know your child can eat, buy text books, stationary, pay library fines but you can get drunk on it.

If your son's uni has a scheme then use it.

MarjorieAntrobus Mon 15-Apr-13 07:41:31

Melody, as I said upthread we have paid the accommodation (not food) and the DCs had to use their Student Finance maintenance loan to live on. That way, they had to budget for themselves, and we didn't get involved in conversations about how much they had spent on beer, or books, or clothes. It seemed to us that doing it that way put them in a more grown-up role, whereas if we were giving them an allowance they might have felt they should run their spending choices past us, and we might disagree with their choices

As it turned out they coped v well despite me being sure that one of them would be overdrawn by week 4! They stepped up to the responsibility. Two of them even managed to hold enough back for vacation travels.

creamteas Mon 15-Apr-13 08:03:49

I would caution against encouraging new students to spend more in freshers week. It is really not necessary, most unis have lots of free stuff going on.

It is also a good idea not to sign up to any clubs/societies in freshers. Most of the time, students never go back and is a complete waste of money. Looking around and joining a week or two later is usually a much better option.

melodyangel Mon 15-Apr-13 11:20:18

Thank you for all the advice. It all seems to have come along rather quickly, 19 years just isn't long enough!

We can cover the cost of the rent, have saved so we can pay if student finance doesn't come through in time, but it would be easier for us if we can give each week/ month so as to spread the cost but yes I agree that it is a good idea to let them budget for themselves.

Off to look at family budget and see where to find some extra.

SlowlorisIncognito Thu 18-Apr-13 17:01:26

£50 per week may not be enough in London- unfortunately everything costs more in London, and you can't always walk everywhere. It is enough to survive on, but probably not fund a full social life.

Is it still the case that SF is higher if you are studying in London? If so, then he should have a bit left over from his rent which can help cover occasional costs. Is he going to be aiming to live in halls? If so, these are very understanding if SF comes in late, as obviously most people are not in the position to cover the cost. The rent of halls is normally charged termly, so you wouldn't have to cover the full amount.

First year is always the hardest, and people do struggle to budget on what would seem a reasonable amount of money. It would help if you could get him to write a list of all the things he thinks he might want to spend money on in a week, a month, and a term, including things like phone contracts etc.

However, if £50 a week is what you feel you can afford, then if he cannot manage on it, he will have to find a way to supplement his income, e.g. by getting a job, or cut down on his expenses.

camillarj Sun 21-Apr-13 12:41:47


Just a question- How many mums with sons/daughters at university would be interested in purchasing meals specifically aimed at university students to give to their children, instead of providing food money?

NewFerry Sun 21-Apr-13 13:55:22

I think at 18/19 students really ought to be able to choose and cook for themselves, they are adults! So personally, I wouldn't want to buy meals for them, but rather let them make their own choices. Some will be bad, but hopefully most will be good choices - or at least good enough! grin

boomting Sun 21-Apr-13 14:39:32

camillarj - I think anyone who would ever ponder that is probably in one of two situations
1. They don't trust junior to budget adequately and not piss all their money up a wall. In that instance, they can do an online shop for them and get it delivered to their uni address, or put money on one of those sainsbury's cards with baked beans on.
2. Junior can't cook, and so chooses to go into catered halls, and eventually has a choice of learn or starve (which is as it should be).

I'd never pay good money to let my children remain incompetent indefinitely.

Numberlock Sun 21-Apr-13 18:37:10

Question - is any allowance made for two kids at uni at the same time with regards to the student loan? Doesn't seem fair or right if not.

Maat Sun 21-Apr-13 18:39:04

DS1 is in his 3rd year at Uni in Gtr London. He got higher than standard maintenance loan and had enough left over for food/other expenses.

We helped out when he needed train fare or other bigger expenses.

DS2 is going to Uni in September (Sheffield Hallam) and he will have nothing left over after paying for accommodation. We intend to pay for a cheap mobile phone contract, student railcard and send something for food.

I'm not quite sure how much yet as I'd prefer he learnt to budget and then help him out if he gets stuck rather than having too much spare cash.

This thread is very useful smile

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