In a month or so, thousands of students will be packing up their things in preparation for the beginning of their university course, experiencing perhaps a mixture of nerves and excitement. Fresher’s week, socials and speedy integration will likely be uppermost in their thoughts and wants, and rightly so. However, it is worth thinking about the very real challenge of proper budgeting and money management during studies.
Many will have little or no experience of structuring large sums of money – student loans are typically paid into an account at the start of each semester – which will have to last them over an extended period of time. 1,000 to 1,200 may seem like a huge sum, but with the first semester of the university year spanning the best part of four months from late August to mid December, such funds will quickly evaporate unless carefully used.
A balancing act, taking in inevitable costs such as food and books, alongside money to cover socialising, going out and generally having a good time, is vital. Working out from the outset how much money can be spent each week may not be great fun but it beats getting to early November and the reality of an empty bank account becoming apparent. A budget will be difficult to stick to rigidly but keeping roughly to an accurate plan will go some way to delivering a fuller and more rewarding experience – both socially and academically.
Choosing where to house loans, wages, grants and the like is also a decision that should be made before the trip to the halls of residence is made. With the banks and building societies of the UK falling over themselves to secure the long term banking future of the country’s bright young things, there are a number of student accounts to choose from.
With this in mind, there should be an account to suit the full range of needs and circumstances. If a student loan is unlikely to cover all costs, and the thought of a part time job is unappealing, an account with an interest free overdraft facility may be worth thinking about. First year overdrafts that do not charge interest can range from 1,000 right through to 3,000.
Lenders will also offer a variety of incentives to secure students’ money. While these may not be a deal breaker, discounts on computer equipment and entertainment will certainly come in handy. Similarly, five year railcards that offer a third off all fares can potentially save hundreds of pounds, especially for students that live far away from home.
It is definitely worth taking some time to look into the array of student accounts available when preparing for university. It might be tempting simply to stay with the provider you have always used but it might not be cost effective. Go to banks and speak to advisers, while using the internet to find a student account that suits your circumstances.