Quarter of UK graduates admit they were clueless about money when starting uni

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As students across the UK return to university after almost two years of disruption, Gumtree UK, the online re-commerce platform, reveals that over a quarter (27%)* Millennial graduates did not feel equipped with the tools and skills to manage their own finances effectively when they first started their studies.

Research conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Gumtree found that when graduates were asked where their biggest overspends at university came from, the main culprits were buying too many takeaways and badly planned grocery shops (32%), nightlife (25%), and a revolving wardrobe to keep up with the latest fashion trends (21%). Over a quarter were also surprised at the high cost of rent (28%), study materials (29%), and travel (26%), which contributed to their money woes.

With this year’s Freshers intake set to enjoy the classic student experience, millennial graduates have passed on the top money-saving tips and tricks they wished they knew when they started university to keep their bank accounts out of the red.

Almost half (41%) wished they purchased second-hand books from the year above, while a third disclosed they should have batch cooked (36%) their meals to save money. Selling items on second-hand platforms like Gumtree (32%), maximising on Happy Hours (25%), and working out at home rather than the gym (19%) also topped the list of money-saving tips graduates wished they knew before starting uni.

While some slept on these financial tricks, other graduates were already one step ahead. One in five (21%) developed their entrepreneurial side by upcycling and selling hand-made goods on platforms such as Gumtree, while just under half (46%) had jobs on the side. A third admitted to (30%) having a helping hand from the bank of mum and dad to tie them over.

The greener graduates also shared the key items students should source second-hand, including study materials (58%), study furniture such as desks and chairs (49%), and organisational furniture, including shoe racks and hangers (43%); easy ways to make savvy savings and furnish student digs in a more planet-friendly way.

Despite finishing their studies, many graduates are sitting on a gold mine of items that could not only help them make some money in their post-graduate years but provide current students with useful, pre-loved items at a fraction of the price. A quarter of grads still cling on to clothes and shoes (23%) and course books (24%) from their glory days, while one in five have kept old cooking utensils (22%) that they no longer use.

Hannah Rouch, Chief Marketing Officer of Gumtree added: “With university life set to resume as normal this year, thousands of new and returning students will be heading to campuses around the country to kick off their studies and create new memories. At Gumtree, we know living the student dream can be expensive, while the growing issue of over-consumption and fast homeware is costly for the future of our planet. We encourage everyone to embrace pre-loved items and discover Good Finds to be savvy, environmentally conscious, and avoid financial worries getting in the way of a once-in-a-lifetime experience. ”

To help Freshers in need of extra financial guidance, Gumtree has partnered with personal finance expert Iona Bain, author of The Young Money Blog to share her top tips to help university students get to grips with personal finance.**

Iona Bain commented, “Too many freshers are heading off to uni with no game plan for their finances, creating the very real risk that they’ll run out of money before term is out. But there are all sorts of clever hacks that can make your maintenance loan go further, whether it’s buying and selling second-hand goods on platforms such as Gumtree or planning your meals using cheap ‘hero’ ingredients. With the cost of living getting more expensive this winter, it’s more important than ever to hunt down bargains and make sure you’re getting excellent value for money at all times.


Students interested in picking up some Good Finds or making some extra cash for their new year by selling pre-loved goods can visit https://www.gumtree.com.


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