Recent surveys have shown that parents are unprepared for the cost of universities, but the same goes for their children in the majority of cases!
One of the keys to enjoying your university experience is learning to manage your money as effectively as you can, avoiding the mid term financial crisis when the cash machine refuses to give you any more money. Follow these top tips to manage your money and keep on top of your finances at university.
Set up a bank account as soon as you can
Research the good student deals – the newspapers are full of them in the lead up to the beginning of term. If you are taking out a student loan make sure it has been deposited in your account.
Take the time to compare a few bank accounts before opening one as many banks have good deals for students. Some offer free student rail cards, restaurant discounts or Amazon vouchers, but these perks should not be the only deciding factor. Make sure you check fees, overdraft limits and interest rates too.
Make a budget
Sounds boring, but it will really help you to manage your money. You can use a sheet of paper but there are also numerous apps such as You Need A Budget, Pocketguard or Wally that can help and also keep track of your spending.
Work out what your income will be, including any allowances from your parents and your student loan and then divide by the number of weeks it has to last so you know what you can spend.
Work out your core costs, such as rent, food, travel, books etc. Subtract costs from income and what you have left is the amount you can spend.
Check your bank balance regularly and keep some money in reserve for emergencies or additional expenses.
If it is not enough to survive on then it is time to get a part time job!
Factor in location
Living in a big city will typically add 20% to your costs, so don’t forget to factor that in. Whilst living in a city may be more expensive, there are often more opportunities for part time work.
Be discount savvy
Buy your study equipment and books second hand. Search online and in secondhand books shops where you are studying.
Use online resources to find good deals on meals, tickets and for student discounts. Always ask if there is a student discount as many places have them, not just in university towns.
Use student travel cards and check out bike schemes to help manage your travel costs.
Make the most of the free activities around you. It doesn’t have to be expensive to have a good time and museums, galleries, parks are usually free. Check out the local press for events in your area.
Be smart when going out
When you are out socialising at night only take with you the cash you are prepared to spend. Leave your ATM card safely at home then you won’t be tempted to take out more.
Always have a £10 note in your sock or shoe when you go out so you can afford a taxi home if necessary.
Don’t over buy!
One of our favourite tips for students is to always food shop on a full stomach! Trust us, it will stop you impulse buying a trolley of mars bars. And make a list of what you need in advance so you can plan your meals and food spending, rather than just aimlessly browsing in the supermarket.
Being smart about your spending will ultimately make life easier and more pleasant and the sooner you get into good habits the better your university life will be. Money isn’t everything, but proper planning soon become second nature so you can concentrate on your studies and having a good time too.