How Do UK Students Fare With Their Finances?

young academic student money
So, the highly anticipated A-level results come out tomorrow and as the nation’s favourite student news website, Young Academic is on hand with all your analysis and debate. This feature rather interestingly take a look how students and retirees fare when it comes to being savvy with their money.

New online research from Standard Life looks into what people in the UK are doing to manage their finances efficiently. The table shows some interesting differences in the behaviours of students and retirees, compared to workers.

  • Retirees are the most likely to make sure they don’t spend what they don’t have and avoid running up debt – they are much more likely to pay of their credit card each month than workers
  • Retirees are also most likely to make the most of loyalty cards and to regularly review utility tariffs and providers to save money
  • Retirees are also the most likely to review insurance contracts
  • Surprisingly they are less likely than workers and students to set a budget
  • Almost half of full-time students (48%) are focused on not spending what they don’t have and running up debt, but they lag workers and retirees, suggesting students are perhaps more at risk of creating debt for themselves.
  • Less than 1 in 5 (18%) say they pay off their credit cards each month, which is a worry, although this has to be looked at in context as fewer students may have credit cards – particularly if they don’t trust themselves not to run up debt.
  • Full-time students are far more likely to set budgets than workers, and to buy things second hand, but less likely to sell things online.

Financially efficient tactic adopted


Full-time Students


Not spending what I don’t have and avoid running up debt on credit card(s) or store card(s)




Paying off my credit card(s) each month in full




Making the most of loyalty cards




Regularly reviewing insurance contracts




Regularly going online to search out the best deals using price comparison




Reviewing utility providers and tariffs to save money




Setting weekly or monthly budgets for spending




Buying things second hand




Selling things I no longer need (e.g. on eBay, Gumtree etc.)




Regularly using my credit card offers to move my balance




 Commenting, Julie Russell, financial expert from long term savings and pensions company Standard Life says:

“When it comes to managing money, it’s interesting to see how those who perhaps have more limited budgets and more time on their hands compare to those of us who work. Our research shows that retirees are the most determined not to run up debt, making the most of loyalty cards and reviewing contracts to make sure they are getting the best deal. But students, who are young and perhaps still have lots to learn about managing money are doing really well too, particularly when it comes to budgeting. The important thing is that whether we are busy with work or not, we take time out to plan our finances so we can make our money go further. And when we are able to save money for our future, do that in a smart way too – that means looking at tax efficient products like pensions and ISAs and ensuring we do our best to at least keep pace with inflation, so that our valuable savings don’t lose value in real terms.”

People can find out more about being financially efficient and saving for their future at

It is important to bear in mind that tax treatment depends on your individual circumstances and may change in the future. And as with any investment the value of your fund can go up or down and may be worth less than you invested.

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