Students: 3 Top Tips for Managing Your Finances
University is one of the most exciting periods of your life. You are making new, life-long friends; exploring living in a new city away from your family; and hopefully are on your way to making important decisions about your future career. One inevitable downside of life as a student is the debt repayments you are likely to be left with once your degree has been completed – it is now estimated that the average university student starting their course in 2012 will leave with almost £60,000 worth of debts. Although the money borrowed from Student Loans won’t have to be paid back until you are earning £21,000, any money that comes from overdrafts or credit cards will have to be paid back sooner. This could lead you into difficulties if you struggle to find work straight after graduating. The most sensible option, therefore, is to try to keep control of your finances as much as you can during your time as a student. Here are three top tips for ensuring you leave university with as little debt as possible:
1. Take advantage of student discounts
It’s a bit of a clichéd stereotype, but get into the habit of enquiring about student discounts and you could find yourself saving a lot of money. Most high-street stores offer discounts with a valid student card, however you will also find that transport services and entertainment venues regularly have special offers. There are also some excellent websites that inform you of places that have offers for students, and provide vouchers which you can use to get discounts.
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2. Keep your banking simple
It can be tempting to take advantage of the various offers that some banks offer exclusively for students. Interest-free overdrafts and credit cards can certainly seem appealing if it means that you get that bit of extra cash needed for a night out, but ultimately they can lead you down a slippery slope of lending. Try to avoid picking up bad financial habits at university by getting used to only spending what you have.
Banks which offer basic bank accounts can be the perfect option for you if you are looking for an easy way to budget. No-frills accounts sometimes come with a pre-paid cash card option. These cards allow you to separate the cash in your account; the money that you definitely need to keep in order to pay out phone bills or for new books can be kept safe, and your spending money can be loaded onto the card. You can then use the card the same way you would a cash card, to withdraw money and even pay in shops and restaurants – allowing you guilt-free spending as you know the rest of your money is safe.
3. Learn to food shop the clever way
A lot of students leave home not knowing how to cook from scratch and a result, will end up spending a small fortune either eating our or buying ready-meals. Bulk-buying cheap, basic ingredients such as pasta and rice can mean that you have endless cheap meal options every week - providing that you have the cooking know-how to create interesting meals, of course! Try out the basic ranges on offer in supermarkets, too. Often they offer all the food items you could possibly need, and taste just as good as the branded items at only a fraction of the price.
By following these steps and making other changes to your daily routine, you should find that your student loan and money from part-time jobs stretches much further. They are small changes which could make a big difference to the state of your finances once you graduate. Although you may feel as if university is never going to end, get planning for your fiscal future now and reap the rewards later!