Students should take all necessary steps before the start of the academic year to ensure that their basic funding provision is in place. Taking the time to think about your spending can make a real difference to your financial situation.
Good ways to manage your money
The only way you can be in control of your money is to be aware how much you have and how you are spending it. Here are some ideas to plan your budget effectively:
- Make a list of your termly or monthly income and expenditure according to how your money is received and paid out. This should include any government and University funding you receive and any other awards or paid vacation work.
- Deduct all the large one-off payments for the term or month such as fees, rent and any other important bills.
- Include an additional allowance for regular direct debits, such as monthly mobile phone bills or insurance payments.
- Include additional money for the vacation; if you are going home this should include transport costs and if you are staying in Oxford this should include additional living costs and rent.
- Work out what is left over and deduct an extra amount for emergencies or unexpected expenditure. You should then be left with the amount of money that is available for you to spend, which can be converted to a weekly amount. You may also need to take into account any weeks where you incur a higher level of expenditure such as at the start of the academic year.
It is important to bear in mind that the amount you have remaining is not necessarily the amount you need. If you can afford to set some money aside you should, especially as the amount of funding you receive might vary between years.
- Consider moving over any unspent funds once a month into a separate account to avoid spending this money unnecessarily.
- Ensure you do not overspend by finding a method that suits you best to determine exactly how much income you need:
- Downloading a banking app or checking your bank balance online are good ways to regularly keep check of your finances
- Get into the habit of checking your balance when you withdraw money so you know how much you have left to spend
- Alternatively, withdraw the amount of money you are able to spend at the beginning of a week. Then, put all cards away until you can make the next withdrawal.
Be alert to scams and potential fraud - do not make any payments
You should always be extra vigilant when being asked to disclose any personal or financial information and should only ever share information with trusted sources, in a secure manner. You should never make an additional payment on the phone or disclose personal details. A legitimate organisation (UK or overseas) will always allow you time to seek advice before you respond. Fraudsters are known to take advantage of new students at the start of term and particularly if English is not your first language. Their techniques may be quite sophisticated and they may already have personal information about you, or the contact details they provide may appear genuine.
Do not feel pressurised by an immediate deadline, for what may be a scam which could include a request for payment, a request to disclose personal details, or a false accusation that you have committed a crime or broken a regulation. You must end the conversation immediately and seek advice either from your college, department or the relevant central team at the University. You can contact them with the email subject title ‘potential fraud’ to gain their immediate attention. For visa or immigration matters contact firstname.lastname@example.org, for fees or loans contact email@example.com and for any other matters your college.
Fraudsters may be looking to obtain your personal details to steal information and potentially take money from you, this is known as phishing. For further guidance on avoiding phishing scams, you can also visit the University’s Information security webpages. Students in receipt of UK Government support who are concerned about being targeted by phishing scams can also access specific advice from the Student Loans Company on their webpages.
Alternatively, fraudsters may ask you to receive money into your bank account and transfer it into another account, keeping some of the cash for yourself. If you let this happen, this is classed as money laundering which is a crime. The Financial Fraud Action UK website offers further guidance on how to avoid unwittingly becoming involved in 'money mule' scams.
You will find that there are members of staff in college who can give you advice on money management. Advice is also available from Oxford SU. Be in control of your spending and finances to avoid worrying about it.