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Student financial advice


University should be one of the most exciting times of your life. However tuition fees and other costs make many of you wonder whether you will be able to manage financially;

Below you have some tips and advice which will hopefully encourage you to think about the likely costs and the most effective ways to manage them. 

Budgeting

Budgeting is the art of keeping your spending under control - but this is not necessarily as simple as it sounds

Therefore, it is important to monitor your spending even when you buy everyday things. These small items soon add up - and it is likely that you will spend more on them than you think. One very easy way to budget as you go today is by using the all new Credit Action "Spendometer". You can download this for free from http://www.spendometer.co.uk/, allowing you to budget easily with your mobile phone.

 

                             

 

Why Budget

Budgeting may seem dull, but there are several really good reasons to budget:

1. It gives you an accurate picture of your financial situation.
2. It could well enable you to reduce your spending as you identify certain areas where you are spending too much, and thus improve your overall position.
3. It will show you (and your parents and bank manager!) that you are handling your money wisely.
4. It prevents you running up substantial debt on which you will have to pay interest and which you will have to repay!

Look at your Priorities

Accommodation will be your largest expenditure. If you are in halls of residence be sure to pay the residential fees at the beginning of the term. If you are in outside rented accommodation you could set up a standing order to pay the rent monthly.
Also set aside enough to pay for:

  • basic foodstuffs
  • rent
  • gas/electricity


If you are house-sharing, you will need to come to an arrangement with your house mates about how to pay for bills and food.

Pay by Instalments

Utility charges mount up and your quarterly bills can be much higher than you probably anticipate. For these regular bills, it might be easier to spread your payments over the year by paying direct debit monthly.

Monthly bills will mean that you are less likely to face an unexpected or forgotten bill appearing suddenly. Spreading payments will also help you budget - but do ensure that you keep enough money in your account to meet these debits as they arrive each month. The gas or electricity company may even offer you a discount for paying by direct debit!

Spend sensibly

This is essential - remember that money for tomorrow's needs is more important than today's wants. Sometimes this will mean going without things you'd like to have, like the new DVD or that frothy latte but in the long run cutting these things out could save you a lot of difficulties.

Do...

  • Ensure you know how the student loan system works
  • Try to have some savings in case your loan cheque is delayed
  • BUDGET!
  • Keep a record of what and where you spend
  • Have a list of priority spending - differentiating between needs and wants
  • Take advantage of your bank's free banking facilities
  • If they require a response then reply quickly your letters from you bank, building society or any creditors and keep a copy of all your correspondence
  • Be aware that if things go wrong financially, it can affect you emotionally and seriously distract you from your studies
  • Seek advice speedily. The longer you leave the problem the harder it will be to sort it out. Talk to family, student welfare officers, bank staff etc.
  • Allow some money for recreation and pleasure


Don't...

  • Overspend at the beginning of your first term. Remember your money has to see you through the year
  • Spend more than you can afford when going out. Leave your cash card at home!
  • By non-essentials when struggling to pay for essentials
  • Ignore signs that spending is getting out of control
  • Guess what you are spending
  • Be afraid to talk to someone about and seek advice if you are having problems financially
  • Cut yourself off from family and friends if things get tough
  • Make rash promises to pat when you know that you can't
  • Exceed your overdraft limit without previous authorisation. Unauthorised overdraft rates are very high when compared with what is offered if you stick within agreed limits.
  • Get paranoid! Remember even if you are struggling you can approach your bank or building society with confidence.


*The advice on this page is written in collaboration with Moneymanual by Credit Action.