Brilliant news! School is officially over and done with, and you’ve succeeded in bagging yourself a spot at University. Hopefully the Summer has been full of celebrations, champagne and chilling out - you definitely deserve it.
Freshers week is creeping closer, and while it’s an incredibly exciting time, you might also be feeling a little nervous, but you’re not alone. The concept of having to take responsibility of your own finances from now on is probably something that’s been playing on your mind a lot. Well don’t fret, Steph from Expert Home Tips is here to help.
We’ve broken everything down for you to make managing all those numbers as easy as counting to three. So grab a pen, paper, your laptop and a folder and let’s get started:
Managing your finances
While you may have hoped you were done with Maths when you put down your A-Level exam paper, a bit of number crunching now will be worth it in the long run. Heading off with a clear view of your finances will mean you can have an enjoyable and stress-free Freshers. I know that starting Uni and the prospect of all that debt can be a scary thing, but get the following sorted and you'll be absolutely fine - I promise!
Finalising student finance
By now, everything for your Student Finance should be firmly in place, but there’s never any harm. As well as assuring you’ve dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s, make sure you’ve written down the exact sum you’ll receive every month to cover tuition fees, as well as any Maintenance help you'll receive. Save this in a ‘Uni’ folder on your laptop, and also print off a sheet to keep in your folder.
If you’ve applied for a separate loan too, verify the date you can expect to receive this, in your bank account. Make sure it’s at least a few days before your start date - when you’re with all your new pals, the last thing you’ll want to be saying is, “Sorry, I can’t come to the amazing Foam Party - I’m broke...”
When you’ve checked exactly how much you’ll be receiving each month and when, and then checked again for good measure, you can start:
Budgeting your money
All that number crunching you did above is about to come in handy, as you’re going to need those figures in order to budget effectively.
First you need to calculate your income, which will include the monthly figure you worked out above, along with a distribution of any money you’ve managed to save over your school years.
1. Put all these different income sources into a spreadsheet, then add a total column.
2. Now begin adding your concrete outgoings in the same way underneath - these are things like your rent, phone bill and anything else you have an accurate figure for.
3. Total this, then add a formula column to subtract these outgoings from your total monthly income.
Now the scary bit: what you have left with, is going to be covering all other living expenses, so anything from food and travel to socialising and clothing.
It’s worth trying to allocate a reasonable guesstimate to each of these things, so that your income and outgoings eventually balance out. When you start Uni, these are the figures you'll have to try and work within.
All of that sounds pretty daunting, right? Well there are some ways to make things easier. Why not:
Set up two bank accounts
Having two bank accounts may seem a little silly, but a second bank account to help make your finances more manageable. This way you can organise a direct debit to come out of your loan at the start of every month, in order to cover all your concrete outgoings (rent, phone bill, etc).
Your second bank account can then contain the remainder of your loan (and savings) and be used for all your living costs, like food and fun.
By doing this, even if you go over budget on Jaeger Bombs, new jeans, and have to survive on Pot Noodles for the rest of the month, you’ll still have enough to put a roof over your head, hooray!
Download a banking app
Whilst you’re probably being used to people telling you to use your phone less, I’m giving you the perfect excuse to use it more. Get yourself sorted with a banking app, and you’ll be able to check out your financial situation wherever you are, at any time of day/night.
If your pals are all pestering you to go out for a posh pizza lunch, a quick check of your current balance - or lack of - may just make that ham & pineapple one you have stored in your freezer seem slightly more appealing.
Consider getting a part-time job
Let’s face the facts: you’re never going to be rich at Uni. Debt is practically inevitable, and it’s certainly not the time to be thinking about investing in your first designer watch. However, there is something you can do to reduce the amount of debt you get into, or increase the amount you have to spend on all the good stuff. A part-time job can be a great solution.
Firstly, you need to consider if you’re the type of person who will be able to manage the stress and workload of study with another job. If you think you can, there are massive benefits. City restaurants and bars are reliant on students in order to function, so they’re usually pretty flexible with your hours, and you can find something that works for both of you.
If this all sounds good to you, don't hang around. There will be thousands of freshers arriving at your campus the September, along with all the existing students. The competition for these little money earners is high, so you need to get in early. Have a look on Student Job’s listings for restaurants, cafés and bars and get applying.
I know all this finance stuff might sound rather boring, but get all this sorted now, and you’ll be able to relax and enjoy yourself when you finally get on campus. With the numbers crunched, and sums calculated, you’ll be able to concentrate on all the good stuff, like making friends, partying and being a Fresher.
If you want to read Steph’s fuss free University guide in full along with loads of ways you can save money, head on over to Expert Home Tips.
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