Students around the country will be looking forward to returning to university in the next few weeks, and although it’s been a few years since I went to uni, I thought I’d put together a few money tips for students.
Whilst saving money and looking after finances might not be top priority for most students, hopefully these tips will help minimise the problems you could face and teach some useful personal finance skills that can be applied throughout university and beyond.
- Get any financial help you are entitled to – find out if you’re eligible for a government grant to help out financially – 12,000 students failed to take grants they were entitled to last year.
- Choose a student bank account carefully – the banks will probably be trying to lure you to use them from the moment you arrive, knowing that if they hook you now, you’re likely to be a customer of their fo quite some time. Don’t be swayed into a bank account by the freebies on offer – it’s more important to get the banking features you need, such as a large interest free overdraft facility, low charges for going into the red, and accessible branches, rather than a fancy new MP3 player, for example.
- Avoid credit cards – if at all possible, I’d recommend avoiding credit cards whilst at Uni. You only want to be using these if you can afford to pay off the full balance each month, and the temptation to spend would be greater if you’ve got a credit card sitting in your wallet or purse. If you can’t avoid them completely, treat them with great respect.
- Make a budget – it’s especially important to have a budget if you’re not going to be earning money whilst at uni – your grant or savings could get eaten up quite quickly, so sticking to a budget is a good way of making sure it will last. Write a list of everything you’ll be spending money on, which will include accommodation, food, drink, going out, books, travel, amongst many other things.
- Keep an eye on your finances – it’s important to keep track of what you’re spending and how much you have in your account to avoid unauthorised overdraft charges or running out of funds completely. By keeping track of what you’re spending you’ll be able to cut down on non-essentials (yes, that includes alcohol!). Once you’ve selected your student bank account, sign up for online banking so that you can easily check your account. Some banks will also offer account updates by text message so that you’ll always know where you stand. If you think you might be getting into difficulties, speak to your bank as they may be able to help you. If you don’t know your situation, you’ll not be able to spot when you’re getting into these difficulties.
- Check your possessions are insured – if you’re taking TVs, computers, TVs etc. into you student house, make sure you’ve got them covered with contents insurance. In some case, they might be covered by a parents contents policy, but you’ll need to check this. Otherwise, there are insurers who specialise in cover for students, and they shouldn’t be too difficult to find.
- Make sure you have your own car insurance policy – If you’re lucky enough to have a car, make sure you have your own insurance, and are not simply put on as a named driver on a parents car insurance policy (this is known as “fronting” and could lead to an invalid policy). Get your own policy, and if you’re living away from home, make sure the insurance company know where you’ll be living. If it’s registered to your home address but is permanently parked elsewhere, your policy could become invalid in the event of a claim.
- Enjoy yourself, but try to be responsible with your money – if you’re going to be away from home for the first time, it’s very tempting to go a bit wild with your money without having to justify it to anyone. It is possible to have a lot of fun without going mad, it’s all about finding a balance that will allow you to enjoy yourself without ruining your finances.
What would you add to theis list of student finance tips? Let us know in the comments below.
photo credit: fee-ach
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