For many of you starting university, it will be your first time living away from Hotel Mum and Dad. This means that it will more than likely also be your first time paying household bills and shopping for groceries, and whilst it can be quite exciting to see thousands of pounds sitting in your account on student finance pay-out day, you may be surprised how quickly it all disappears.
Therefore you may need some tips on how best to manage your finance, so that you do not get to the second week of term and realise that you have to subsist on dry pasta and water for the next month or so. Of course this can be easier said than done, with all of the other temptations crying out for your money. Parties, nights out, events and shopping can all provide a massive drain on your funds, so making sure that the essentials are in order is, well, essential.
So here are our top three tips for surviving the fiscal assault course that is your first term at university.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is the most essential part of managing your money. The main problem with creating a budget is that everybody says that you should do it – but nobody really explains how.
The first step is to calculate your income. Get your payment schedule out, the one that the Student Loans Company sent you and look at how much money you are due to receive at the beginning of your first term. Take both the loan amount and any grants, and add them together. Next thing is to add on any money you will get from working and any that you will get from your parents. This total is your income. Do not add the part of your loan that is for fees, nor your student overdraft or any other borrowing as this is for emergencies only.
The next step is to subtract your essential spending from your total. This includes: your rent, utility bills (gas, electricity, internet, water etc.) and mobile phone bills for the whole term. Don’t forget to subtract the amount you want to spend on groceries as well. This will be difficult to estimate at first, but after a week or two, you should have a better idea of how much this will cost. Don’t forget to include toiletries as well, the last thing you want is to be sat in a stuffy lecture theatre with 200 people without deodorant.
Once you have subtracted all of the essentials, the amount left over can be considered your spending money. Check your payment schedule to find out when you will next get paid to determine how long you need the budget to last and divide the amount by that many weeks. Now you know how much you have available each week to spend on things like books and stationary, as well as shopping and social activities.
That’s the easy bit done. Now that you have created your budget, all that you need to do is stick to it. Sadly, this is much harder than it sounds. Lots of things, especially during your first couple of weeks, are going to be tempting you to part with your cash. Remember that you probably won’t have your student finance during fresher’s week, so bring extra money so that you can enjoy yourself before classes begin.
Last of all, don’t be too hard on yourself if you go over budget one week. It happens to everybody sometimes. Just work out how much you have overspent by, subtract it from the following week’s allowance and try to learn from your errors.
One of the first things you will want to do before starting at university is to open a student bank account. Your existing bank will more than likely offer this service and it will be simple and painless to switch your account over. However, do not sacrifice the best deal for simplicity.
Always shop around. Use comparison sites to weigh up the pros and cons of each bank and then make an informed choice. Try not to be tempted by freebies, which lots of banks offer to reel you in, but instead look for things such as the biggest interest-free overdraft, that remains interest-free for the longest time possible after graduation.
Of course, if it’s a choice between two relatively equally balanced options and one is offering an attractive freebie (such as a railcard), then use that to sway your choice. Try to choose the one that will be of the most use to you with the highest monetary value.
Remember to search around again once you graduate. Student accounts are not designed to give you the best deal once you begin work. Also, do not just go for whatever is being offered at fresher’s fairs. These are commercial enterprises run for profit and do not necessarily offer the best deals.
Home and contents insurance may not seem like a priority for students, but it should be. Full time students and persons aged between 16 and 24 years combined are at a 13.9% risk of becoming a victim of burglary. This figure is more than five times the average. Just think how having to replace your laptop or phone may affect your budgeting?
Don’t forget that you will probably be sharing accommodation with several other students. This means multiple laptops, tablets, mobile phones etc. in a single building. This is what makes student homes such a prime target for burglary.
Check whether you are covered by your parents’ policy and, if not, shop around for the best deal. As with bank accounts, do not automatically gravitate towards the ‘student’ offers, as they are often no different from regular policies.
I hope that you find this useful and that you enjoy and succeed at your studies. If you need more advice and tips, then visit the National Association of Student Money Advisers or The Money Saving Expert. Have fun.
Studying is all about getting yourself in the right frame of mind for extended periods of concentration. Lots of different people do this in lots of different ways, and so there are no hard and...Read more
You will no doubt have been shouted at to keep your things – your room, your clothes, your dishes, your washing – clean and tidy your whole life. Right from the moment we are born,...Read more
Living with people ain’t easy. That’s just a fact. You will remember how many arguments you’ve had with your siblings over the years. They’re your own flesh and blood, and yet there have been countless...Read more
There are certain milestones in your life that pave the way to adulthood (and then right on through to the grave, but let’s not worry about those yet). Each one is surrounded by its own...Read more