How to prepare for the financial side of studying
As we approach A level results day, millions of students will be preparing to leave home and look after their own finances for the first time.
For those struggling to know where to start, money.co.uk has pulled together all the information you need to prepare for the financial side of leaving home for university:
James Andrews, senior personal finance editor at money.co.uk, said:
“Leaving for university means you will need to quickly learn a whole host of new skills that weren’t needed when living at home, including financial management.
“The first thing to consider is where you want to keep your money. Student bank accounts tend to come with a range of different benefits, from saving money and interest-free overdrafts to additional freebies such as gift vouchers or railcards.
“While a £20 takeaway voucher may seem like the best option, opting for an account that will save you money with interest free borrowing is a better option in the long run. An overdraft lets you borrow money from your bank meaning you can still pay for things without any money in your account, ensuring you are covered should you run into difficult times.
“Many banks offer student accounts, and you can use a comparison tool to find the one with the best benefits for you.
“Before you start the first term, make a budget with an overview of all the different costs you will be responsible for once you leave home vs the amount you will have a month from your student loan and any job earnings.
“This should include your housing and any utility bills, plus an allocation for weekly food costs. Don’t forget travel – if you are not in walking distance of your university, the cost of journeys can quickly add up. Be honest with yourself and how much you think you will really spend to make sure you don’t end up with any unexpected surprises a few months in.
“Education is also not cost free – even after tuition costs – and academic textbooks are far from cheap to buy. It’s worth putting a bit of money aside in case there’s something you need there too.
“On top of this, you will have your entertainment subscriptions. If you plan to watch any live TV or iPlayer you will need a licence, currently £159 for a year per address. And that applies whether you watch it on a phone, tablet, laptop or traditional set. Streaming, phone bills and gym memberships can also all add up so make sure you are only subscribed to what you really need.
“Apps like Yolt and Money Dashboard make budgeting simple and can help make it clear exactly what you will have left over each month to spend on socialising.
“Finally, you’re only a student for a short amount of time, so make sure you make the most of all discounts available. There are a variety of different discount ‘cards’ available, all of which offer exclusive discounts although there can be some cross over. Consider where you are most likely to shop and pick the ones more suited to your preferences.”