Research shows that 67% of students feel unprepared for the financial aspects of university. If this sounds like you, then you should read on for a guide to the five most important things you need to know about managing your money during your first year from home.
Set a Budget
Being in charge of your finances can be daunting, so the first thing you should do is draw up a budget. Set out all of your expected income and essential expenditure, (rent, bills, books, food) then see what you have left over for everything else. If there’s a shortfall then see ways to increase your income below.
Before you start uni, you’ll need to open a student bank account to have your loan paid into. When choosing an account, try and opt for one that offers an interest free overdraft facility in case you need to use it. Student account overdraft facilities for three years range from £2,000 – £3,000. Remember never to go over your limit, as this will incur costly fees.
Manage your Payments
Rather than having the whole of your loan sitting in one bank account, it’s a very good idea to separate your essential costs such as rent into another account to avoid accidentally spending it. Alternatively, use a separate account to automatically transfer a weekly sum to you, to avoid running out of money by the end of term.
Increase your Income
Student loans are notoriously difficult to manage on, especially if you have an active social life! Finding a job is often a necessary evil, but make sure the hours don’t interfere with your studies. Your university is likely to have a job shop to help you find work. Other ways of increasing your income include discretionary hardship funds available from the university if you’re struggling, and making use of your overdraft facility.
Keeping your Costs Down
To make your money go further, you need to try and live as cheaply as possible. Try these money saving tips to stay within your budget:
Protecting your valuables, such as phone or laptop is essential, but don’t assume student contents cover is the cheapest. Always shop around for the best value insurance you can find. The cheapest mobile insurance is through an online mobile phone insurance company, starting at £1.99 per month. Alternatively, you may be able to cover your items on your parent’s household contents insurance.
Invest in a pushbike for short journeys, always use a student railcard, and book long train journeys on advance to save money.
Remember that as a student you’re exempt from Council Tax
Don’t buy a TV licence. TV Licencing rules say you can watch programmes on your computer after they have been broadcast without a licence.
An NUS Extra student card makes you eligible for reductions across high street retailers or restaurants, and even on services such as gym membership, broadband or mobile.
Wendy Lin is a successful writer and entrepreneur. She travels the world with her private business consultancy and enjoys spending quality time with her family.