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Money for Life work in partnership with the Money Advice Service, an independent organisation set up by government. Money AdviceService provides free, unbiased money guidance across the UK to help people make the most of their money.  If you have a question or need help, you can chat to them here.

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Talking to my brother about money #talkmoney

I’m Sienna, a new university student who has just started studying History of Art. I took some time recently to sit down with my brother, Ben, to find out more about his spending habits and how he has navigated financial matters at university. 

 

Hi Ben! Why don’t you introduce yourself?

Hi everyone! I’m Ben, a third-year university student studying Engineering.

 

What are your main sources of income? Were these unexpected when you first started higher education?

My main source of income, like most students, is my student loan. I don’t work during term-time, however during the holidays I am able to supplement the loan with freelance work.

I write for different technology websites on a freelance basis, for example Hackaday.com. I get paid per-article and will get paid more for longer articles (which require quite a bit of research). I also get paid monthly after volunteering to redesign a website earlier this year. I wasn’t expecting to get paid at all – the idea was to build up some new skills for my CV – but the website owner now sends me money each month, dependent on the advertising revenue. Normally, I receive about £70.

I also work internships during the summer holidays, and these are normally paid internships in the Engineering sector. When I started university, I did expect to receive some income from these summer internships, however the money from the web design project was definitely unexpected.  

 

At what age did you first start earning your own money?

Aside from dog-walking and mowing the lawns for neighbours, I first started earning money at age 13. I live in the countryside and there are a lot of parish churches nearby. From the ages of 13 to 18, I played the organ at the weekly Sunday services in a few parish churches nearby.

These services lasted one hour and I would get paid £30. The fee also included the preparation and practicing time during the week where I would rehearse the hymns and songs for the coming Sunday.

Before starting university, I took a gap year and worked at an Engineering company. This was my first full-time job working five days a week.

 

What are your main costs/ expenditures?

When I’m at university, by far my biggest expenditure is my accommodation. I pay accommodation termly from my maintenance loan. I’m currently in my third year out of a four-year degree and each year my accommodation costs have varied, however they do always take up a large proportion of my loan. Aside from accommodation, my main costs are food and then entertainment, for example, going to parties and paying membership for different societies.

I really enjoy taking on engineering projects and often work on tasks during my spare time, which means I buy different parts, components and gadgets for particular projects. These tend to be one-off purchases and I will often save up enough money beforehand.  

During the holidays, I live at home where I’m in a very fortunate position to not have to pay rent, this means my expenditure is a lot lower. However, I do tend to complete more projects during the holidays so I might spend some more money my project parts. During my summer internships, I also have to fund my own travel to and from the venue – usually by car or train.

 

Where did you go to learn about banking and financial matters?

My parents did teach me a lot about money management, in the year or two before starting university. I’m also a big fan of Google, so I will Google a lot of finance questions. 

A website I have found consistently helpful is Money Saving Expert. I normally go there to find any good new student bank accounts, deals which may save me money and information about budgeting. 

 

What advice would you give to other university students?

Whilst it is very important to budget in advance, I have found it helpful to also look retrospectively at what I have spent in a term. This helps me recalculate my budget for the remaining time at university and see what my major costs have been outside of paying my accommodation bill.

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Money for Life work in partnership with the Money Advice Service, an independent organisation set up by government. Money AdviceService provides free, unbiased money guidance across the UK to help people make the most of their money.  If you have a question or need help, you can chat to them here.

Launch Chat

Chat to the Money Advice Service
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Saturday, 9am to 1pm.