September is finally here and if you’re heading off to start your first year at university, then you’re probably feeling excited and nervous at the same time. Your first year of university isn’t just an opportunity to learn more about your chosen field of study, make new friends, and become more independent away from your parental home; it’s also a period of your life where you have to learn how to manage your money wisely and budget for spending.
Even if you’re going to be getting help in the form of a student maintenance loan, grant, or both, staying on top of your finances at university will help you to minimize debt and avoid struggling. But, it’s easier said than done for many students who have little experience of managing their own money.
Here are some top tips to help get you started.
Tip 1. Keep on Top of Priority Bills
When you head off to university, you’re suddenly going to be in charge of paying your own bills and rent – something that you may not be used to if this is going to be your first time living away from your parents. Whilst this can bring a great sense of independence along with it and is a sure sign that you’re finally becoming an adult, it can also be nerve-wracking for students and it’s easier than you might think to fall behind.
If you are going to be living in university-provided accommodation for the first year of your university degree, then you can ease yourself into things since most student halls of residence include all bills with the monthly rent and are happy to take payment in advance when your student finance payments come through, so you don’t have to worry about it for the next three months.
Now is the best time to get into the habit of paying your rent and other priority bills before spending your money on anything else.
Tip 2. Shop Around for Financial Products
As a student, there are several great financial products available to you in the form of student bank accounts, larger overdrafts, quick loans, and even student credit cards, which you can use to help you stay on top financially and get everything that you need to be successful with your university degree.
However, bear in mind that not all financial products are created equally, so it’s a good idea to shop around and make sure that you are getting the best deal before making a final decision. If you’re looking for a student bank account, for example, then have a look for one that offers some free perks, such as a Student Railcard that you can use to save money when visiting your family back home, or special deals in your favorite shops.
Tip 3. Avoid Borrowing Too Much
As a student, there are so many great financial products available to you that it can be very tempting to borrow as much as possible. But, whilst this can provide a great sense of security, one of the biggest problems with this is that once you’ve graduated, you’ll have a hefty amount of debt that you’ll need to pay off. Bear in mind that even if you don’t have to pay interest now, one of the main conditions that come with student overdrafts and credit cards is that you’ll have to start paying interest on it once you are no longer a student.
Three years may seem like a long time now, but it’ll come around a lot faster than you expect! If you are planning to borrow as much as possible or have little choice but to do so, then it’s also a good idea to look into debt consolidation options that could save you money, such as quick loans from www.118118money.com/quick-loans/.
Tip 4. Have a Monthly Budget
During your first few weeks of university, the excitement of buying new things for your own space and socializing in fresher’s week could leave you feeling a little out of pocket. One of the biggest mistakes that new students make is to blow everything that they have left from their student loan in the first couple of weeks of the new term, only to leave themselves struggling until the next installment comes around.
To avoid this, the best thing to do is work out exactly how much money you’ll have to spend each month and draw up a budget that includes things such as having fun and socializing, to make sure that you’re aware of where your limit is if you don’t want to be living off packet noodles for weeks. If you have a part-time job, then don’t forget to combine this income with your student loan and any other quick loans borrowed to figure out how much you can comfortably spend.
Tip 5. Go the Refurbished, Secondhand, or DIY Route
New items, especially the ones with branded labels, will cost more but may not necessarily guarantee exceptional quality. Put your bargaining skills to the test by going to thrift stores, garage sales, and other places where you can get clothes and vintage furniture for cheap.
If you’re looking for gadgets, you can buy refurbished PCs instead of new models. Know that refurbished electronics aren’t necessarily inferior in quality. Reliable manufacturers enforce strict quality-control measures and make sure the items are thoroughly cleaned before they’re resold.
Did these tips help? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.
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