Get a first in student finance

Wednesday 07 September 2016, 09:00 AM

Sam Barratt
Financial Journalist , Freelance

  • Uni-Finance-Large

If your grades have secured you a place at university, it's worth doing a crash course in economics before you start your studies.

Figures from The Inter-generational Foundation show that students can easily rack up debts of more than £50,000 getting themselves through university.

Thankfully, a few simple steps plus a handful of money saving tips can help to keep these debts under control - without affecting your time at university. 


Bank account

Pick wisely. While the banks like to use everything from Amazon vouchers to coach cards to get you to take out their account, you're much better off ignoring these and checking out the overdraft details. 

Most offer interest-free overdrafts. These vary in size and will often depend on your credit score and the year you're in, but can be as much as £3,000 from the likes of Barclays, HSBC and Nationwide. 

Although it doesn't have the largest overdraft, student finance website Save the Student! (http://www.savethestudent.org/) puts Santander's 123 Student Account top of the class. It particularly likes the fact that most students will get the full £1,500 interest-free overdraft plus there's a four year railcard to be had as a freebie.  

 

Insurance 

Gadgets such as laptops, phones and gaming consoles mean students represent rich pickings for thieves, with the average undergraduate taking £3,500 worth of kit to university. Given this, and just how critical these items are to your studies (and social life), insurance is well worth considering. 

Some of your belongings may be insured by the university if you're living in its accommodation but, check the detail, as there may be limits and restrictions on the cover.  

Separate policies are available, for example, as well as bespoke policies Endsleigh offers gadget bundle cover starting at £9.49 a month to cover a £500 laptop/tablet and a £500 phone. 

It may also be possible to extend cover on your family's home insurance policy. Seventy-eight percent of home contents policies allow this according to comparison website Gocompare.com, with a further 5% offering it for an additional premium. However it's also a sucker for checking out the small print as cover levels vary from £500 to £25,000. Similarly, if there's a claim, the parent may lose their no claims discount.    


Money saving tips 

Having the right financial infrastructure in place is essential, but the way you spend your money will also have a major influence on how much debt you have when you graduate. 

• Budget, budget, budget - it's easy to splurge, especially in Freshers' Week, so work out what you've got left after paying all your bills. Divide this by the number of weeks until you get your next loan payment and that's what you'll need to live on. If you find it hard to keep track of your spending, take your week's money out as cash at the beginning of the week.  

• Have dinner parties - you don't have to do the fancy table settings and dressing up bit but shopping and cooking as a group works out much cheaper than rustling up a meal for one. 

• Carry a card - the NUS extra card costs £12 for a year, £22 for two or £32 for three and gives you access to more than 200 UK student discounts. These include 5% off at Amazon, 25% off Odeon student tickets and up to 50% off in restaurants. 

• Shop smart - go for the BOGOF deals on things you'll use but think about shopping for clothes in charity shops, jumble sales and through online auction sites. You could even sign up to Freecycle and snap up some of the items people are happy to give away. 

• Sell smarter - whether it's a textbook or some trainers that don't quite fit, if you don't need it, sell it. Auction site eBay is great for offloading your unwanted items and there are websites such as www.webuybooks.co.uk, www.fatbrain.co.uk and www.amazon.co.uk that will take used course books off your hands for cash.  




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