September marks the beginning of a new school year, so whether you’re off to university or college for the first time, or returning to study, you need to make sure you’ve got your finances in order. It might not be the most exciting part of the learning experience but with our handy guide, and reviews from fellow students, hopefully we’ll make it that little bit easier.
Student Credit Cards
Many of us start college or University with a very poor credit rating mainly due to a lack of credit history. It can be tempting to get a credit card and spend the money on shopping within the first few weeks then spend the rest of your course paying it back. Having a credit card can be a great way of building your credit rating as long as the balance is paid off in full every month. Many parents agree to pay off credit card statements as long as the amounts are low and are for emergencies only and this can help students learn about financial responsibility. Store cards with introductory offers can also be very tempting but beware; many have very high interest rates. Take a look at our reviews of credit cards to compare companies, some banks offer a student credit card tied in with their student bank accounts.
Student Bank Accounts
If you’re just starting out in higher learning then you’ll probably want a bank account that fits your needs, one with a debit card, overdraft and perhaps a cheque book, but without regular wages going in you’ll need a dedicated student bank account. Several of the big high street names provide an array of student and graduate accounts that may offer other benefits such as discounted insurance or cheaper train travel. With so many to choose from we’d recommend reading our bank account reviews to get a clearer picture of what’s available and the service provided. But remember to look carefully at the terms and conditions before you sign up, you don’t want any nasty surprises.
There are many different types of student loans, ones provided by a bank, those from the Student Loan Company plus there are also grants from the Government and other bursaries. But before you venture into long term commitment it’s best to work out roughly what you’ll need to spend every week and then calculate your monthly and yearly outgoings. Grants and loans from the Student Loan Company can pay for tuition fees but you’ll also need to buy books and other materials necessary for your course and if you are living away from home then bills, food and rent need to be considered. Will you or do you have a part time job to help pay your expenses? Write down a short list of everything you need to pay for including the costs for running a car (if you have one) and any relevant insurances and then take a look at customer reviews on student loans to help you compare.
If you’re living at home with your parents still then you don’t need insurance. Right? Well not necessarily. If you have a laptop that you’re taking to lessons or perhaps other equipment like a mobile phone or camera for instance (photography students), then you might want to see if you can get extra cover in case of accidental damage or the item being stolen. It might be as simple as asking your parents to check with their insurance provider or you might want your own personal insurance.
If you’re living away in shared or student accommodation then you will need contents insurance to cover your valuables against fire, theft or accidental damage. There are several insurance companies that have student policies; check your insurer for policies that cover shared accommodation and allow multiple policies at one address.
Got a car, scooter or bike? Then you’ll also need insurance for that too. Check out our reviews on young adult car insurance to help you make that choice.
Found yourself in a bit of debt bother? Credit card out of control or are charges pilling up on your student overdraft? Don’t panic. There are plenty of places to get helpful financial advice so take a look at our reviews to help you start on the road to credit recovery. Want to consolidate existing debts like your overdraft and loans? Compare debt consolidation loans against credit cards and see which fits your needs best. And remember to seek advice before it all spirals out of control, your Student Union may be able to offer support and advice too.
Vouchers and free stuff
So now you’ve got your finances in order we thought we’d help make your money go that little bit further. Check out voucher, cash back and points sites to help you get free stuff or money off products. And remember to keep checking back here on the blog as we will be running plenty of competitions to win gadgets and other goodies.
Oh…and when you have a moment let us know what you think of your student union bar – you might get a chance to visit one at some point