For many young people, going to university is their first taste of life as an independent adult. This brings responsibilities as well as privileges. One of those responsibilities is to manage your money. Here are some tips to help.
Allow yourself a freshers’ week budget
You cannot blow all your money on freshers’ week. At the same time, it really is an experience you probably won’t want to miss. Set yourself a specific budget for this week and stick to it.
Research what comes with your fees
In general, tuition fees buy you more than just tuition. They buy you access to the university’s facilities in general. What this means in practice will depend on where you go so do your research.
You can also expect to get some kind of student card. There’s a good chance this will be an NUS card but that isn’t guaranteed. What is just about guaranteed is that it will entitle you to special offers. Again find out what they are. Remember, however, that a special offer is only useful if you really need or really want it. If something is just a want, you need to be able to afford it.
On a similar note, there’s a good chance that you qualify for the Youth Card (outside Scotland) or the Young Scot Card (inside Scotland). Take a look at these and see if they could help your finances. Likewise, have a look at the Young Person’s Railcard and bus company railcards.
Once you have your discount cards sorted, make it a point of principle to look for student deals on anything you buy. Keep in mind that a lot of companies do not sign up for an official partnership with discount card organizations but will still offer student discounts. Also, remember that sometimes companies offer general discounts which students can also use.
Identify your key outgoings
For most students, accommodation will be top of the list. Then you’ll need to allow for household bills (although currently not Council Tax), food, groceries, personal-care items and your mobile. You’ll probably need to make some allowance for travel. You’ll certainly need to make some allowance for wear and tear on your belongings e.g. your shoes.
Harsh as this may sound, insurance is likely to be a good idea. In fact, you may need more than one policy. For example, you may need a policy to cover your belongings at home and a policy to cover your transport. If you cycle, having specialist insurance for cyclists can be an excellent idea. That way you’re covered if someone tries to blame you for an accident.
Cut out any non-essential expenses
Brutal as it may seem, it’s a smart move to cut out absolutely any non-essential expense before you head to university. Live without whatever it is for a while and then see if you really miss it. If you do, then ask yourself honestly if you miss it because you need it or because you enjoy it.
If you need it, then add it to your list of essential purchases. If you just want it, then ask yourself if you can really afford it. If you can, then fair enough. If you can’t, you’ll either have to increase your income or wait until you can afford it.
Brush up your home-management skills
Everyday shopping and cooking are the obvious places to start. There is loads of information online to help you learn how to meal-plan, shop and cook, even in student conditions. Also, make sure you understand how to care for your clothes properly. For example, learn how to interpret care labels and do basic repairs. Again, there is loads of information about this online.
If you have financial concerns, please get in touch