You’ve passed your exams, you’ve secured your place at university and you’ve probably just had the most carefree summer of your life. And now, the prospect of moving away and starting an exciting new life is just around the corner. It’s tempting to get to the campus and just go wild but, hard as it is, you’re going to need to do a little planning in order to survive in this brave new world. As your granny has been saying for years, money doesn’t grow on trees. So here are 10 finance tips from RL360° which should help you keep track of your pennies and, ultimately, ensure you haven’t completely spent up by the end of freshers’ week.
1) Do your research now : You’re going to have to develop this skill for your studies anyway so why not get a head start before you even go? There are any number of websites out there ready and willing to train you on the basics of how credit cards work, tackling impulse buying and avoiding being ripped off. Try http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/family/Teenagers-cash-class
2) Learn to cook : You don’t need to bring yourself up to Masterchef level but knowing how to create tasty meals from the basics will prove invaluable. Your cash will stretch much further if you plan the majority of your meals in advance and make your ingredients and leftovers work for you. Remember, takeaways are pricey and a visit to the kebab van after every night out is soon going to put a strain on the wallet.
3) Budget straight away: Your bank account always looks particularly rosy at the beginning of the academic year. It’s full of lovely loan/grant/parental money and in all the initial excitement it’s easy to put a massive dent in the coffers. Allow yourself a little leeway at the start, by all means, but make sure you stick to a certain amount per week. Some students even have their loan paid into their parents’ account and receive a weekly allowance, just to be on the safe side.
4) Student privilege: Take advantage of the fact that there are untold savings to be had out there for students, from discount travel to free entry into certain galleries and music events. Whatever you do, make sure you sign up for NUS Extra http://www.nus.org.uk/en/nus-extra/ however don’t fall into the trap of spending more just because everything is cheaper. That said, make sure you’re taking advantage of all those student offers, you’ll be sorry when they’re gone!
5) Because you’re worth it: You’re probably worth more than you realise already. Just think of all of the books you own, for instance. If you’re not going to use your textbooks again, then make sure you get online and sell them to a good home. You’re always going to need books at university so make sure that when you need to get some new ones you pay for them with money earned from selling your old ones. And remember, you can always borrow books from the library for free.
6) Supermarket sweep: While you’ve no doubt noticed the special offers in supermarkets at home, you have no idea of the concept of cheap food until you have visited a UK supermarket. Without promoting one in particular, a quick online search will show you where you can get the best deals and then head there to buy basketfuls of own brand products. You’ll be surprised, particularly coming from the Isle of Man, how much you can get for how little.
7) Get a job: While it’s not always that easy to find time for paid employment when you’re studying full-time, you can get around this with a little creative thinking. Try taking part in paid online surveys or market research focus groups. Ipsos provides John Lewis or Amazon vouchers for completed surveys and companies such as Saros will pay between £30-£100 for a few hours of your time.
8) Use less energy: No, we don’t mean lie around watching Jeremy Kyle and eating cereal, this is to do with gas and electricity. Turn down the thermostat if you’re in a shared house, switch off the lights when leaving a room and use energy saving lightbulbs. Don’t leave electricals on standby. Also, when it comes to utility bills, shop around for the best tariffs and always remember to check with your landlord whether water is included in your rent. You don’t want to be landed with a surprise water rate bill at the end of term.
9) Road trip: On your way to the boat or the plane, you’ll likely need to hop on the bus or train (unless you’ve brought your own car). It’s possible to find extra discounts if you know where to look. There are regular sales on bus and train tickets in order to fill seats and it’s not unheard of for companies to sell tickets for £1. Go to http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/deals/cheap-coach-train-ticket-deals to find the latest offers and deals.
10) Future finance: It’s a long way off but it’s worth planning ahead for after you leave university. Don’t stick with your student bank account after graduation. There are deals out there for graduates switching accounts which could gain you hundreds of pounds a year through graduate-only 0% overdraft deals. As with all of the above, it’s about hunting around and being savvy.