Your hard work has paid off, you've secured your university place, your accommodation is sorted and freshers week is firmly in the calendar. Now it is time to tackle the dreaded subject of money and how best to make it last the year.
In this article we look at 7 ways to make the most out of your money at university.
1 - Sort out your bank account early
All the major banks are keen to get students as customers because it is a fact that most people stay with the first bank they use for life. They don't offer you all those nice incentives because they like you. They do it because they know that you will likely bank with them for life and probably take out financial products such as mortgages in the future which they will profit from.
Most banks will offer some type of incentive to open an account, so even if you already have an account, it is worth looking around to see what incentives are on offer. Remember though that it is not just about short-term incentives, make sure you check the details of overdraft charges and other costs that may be incurred in the long term. A good place to compare the best student bank account's is MoneySuperMarket's student current account comparison tool.
2 - Shop smart & get discounts
As a student, a large proportion of your weekly / monthly expenditure will be on food. Make sure you shop smart by following these 23 supermarket money saving tips. A lot of major retailers will offer a student discount together with a number of cinemas and other entertainment venues. You will be surprised how much you can save on these discounts. It's simple - if you don't ask you don't get. Here are 11 student discount tricks to try.
3 - Get cheap travel
Apply for a 16-25 Railcard which costs £30 for one year and means you can save a third on rail fares. If you know you will be doing a lot of travelling over the next few years you could buy a three-year 16-25 railcard for £70, saving a further £20. Obtain a Young Person's Coachcard for £12.50 a year and save a third on coach fares. Again, there is a three-year option costing £30 which saves a further £7.50.
4 - Get a part-time job
There are always plenty of opportunities for part-time work around universities. Bar work, or a job as a waiter, can earn you good money when you include tips and you can still enjoy the social aspect of life at university.
5 - Buy second hand
Purchasing textbooks and other study material can be very expensive, so why not save money and buy them second hand. Search eBay and Amazon Marketplace for cheap books or enquire at your chosen university if they hold a second-hand book fair. Place a post on your university's Facebook group to see if any students who've already studied your course want to sell their used textbooks.
6 - Start budgeting
One thing you are likely to find as a student is that your money will often run out before the end of the month, so it is worth creating a budget and try to stick to it. A great way to budget is to use one of the increasing number of smartphone apps. We look at the best budgeting apps in our article The best budgeting apps in the UK: How to budget without trying. We know it is easier said than done, especially if you are living on a restricted income, but if you apply yourself to the task you can keep ahead of the bills and still enjoy a few drinks in the student's union.
7 - Insure your possessions for nothing
Once you get to university make sure your possessions are insured. Research by MoneySuperMarket states that as many as 34% of students are likely to fall victim to theft. The five most valuable items stolen from students are money, handbags, jewellery, phones and cameras. You don't necessarily have to pay out for your own insurance, as your parent's home insurance will often cover your possessions as long as they inform their insurer, so make sure you check before you settle into university life.
Lastly, work hard and have fun. You will look back in years to come with fond memories of your university days, so while you should make every effort to make your money go as far as it can, make sure you find time to make friends and create some special memories. For further financial tips when preparing for university, check out our article Student finance advice for those heading to university.
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