The first steps into student life are full of anticipation, excitement and dread, new friends, new living arrangements and often the thrill of leaving home. One of the greatest adventures with student life is managing your finances. While the media is full of horror stories of endless debt and living on cornflakes for three years, with a little planning and self-restraint you can make it through your university years without saddling yourself with a lifetime of debt.
Managing Your Student Finances
It can be so tempting once that first grant cheque arrives to buy a new wardrobe, fill the fridge with beer and take a long weekend in Paris but first stop and think about how you are going to get through the rest of the year. Without planning your expenditure you will quickly find yourself penniless and wondering how you’re going to make it through to next term.
Taking a part-time job or finding evening work is a popular way of subsidizing student grants, however you will need to carefully plan the relationship between your course requirements and working hours.
Budgeting and living within your means is a skill worth acquiring, quickly. This can save you money and get you into the habit of buying cheaper, shopping around and saving any little extra money you come across. There are lots of student discounts available so always keep your NUS card with you. Also draw up a list of income and expenditure so you know just how much money you have each week for food, rent, bills and travel etc.
Check out the banks, many offer special student accounts, with free overdraft facilities, online banking or free cash point use. Be aware of additional charges such as using other companies cash machines or unauthorised overdrafts, these unexpected charges can eat into your money. Most major banks have customer advisors who can suggest the best account to suit you and many have specifically tailored accounts for students. You can also arrange text alerts to warn you if your account goes below a pre-determined limit and are able to view your account details online 24/7 if necessary.
The best way to successfully negotiate the perils of student finance is to draw up a term-by-term financial plan. Work out your weekly expenditure, if you are not able to cut back your costs any further, where else can you find money. Check the Internet, Job Centres, employment agencies and local papers for part-time work. Research the local area for cheap food stores and value clothes shops, 2 for 1 or BOGOFF special offers or coupons for your favourite goods.
Get into the habit of saving money, even if it’s only the spare change in your pocket. This can rapidly build in to a useful nest egg for emergencies or when you have a sudden unexpected trip. From sharing food shopping with friends to storing up pennies in a jar, you will find that the sooner you organise your financial affairs the less likely you are of getting into money difficulties later on.

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