University could be the first time you have to manage your own money, but don't worry, it's straightforward if you have a budget.
Just take a little time to go through your income and outgoings - perhaps with a parent or guardian, if you're not sure how to begin. Or, you could keep a weekly spending diary to see where you could cut back.
Cutting back in one area might mean you’re able to spend more money in a way you really want. Either way, it will help you to be realistic about your finances right from the start, and save you loads of trouble.
University is the perfect time to make friends and experience new things, but it's tempting to throw caution to the wind and overspend when you're socialising. When you're having a great time hanging out with your mates, don't feel embarrassed to say no to that extra drink or that visit to a club if you feel it will be a waste of money. A little willpower can go a long way and your friends might even thank you for controlling their spending, as well.
Just as your parents may have given you a weekly or monthly allowance, this strategy will help you begin to think about and control your spending.
Try this: On the same day each week, take out a fixed amount of money to cover your weekly expenses. Each weekly withdrawal must be for the same amount. This way you regularise your outgoings. If you start running low on funds you will, by necessity, begin to alter your spending. Having physical money go through your hands can make you realise how much you’re spending, too.
If you're a sucker for an afternoon latte or tend to get cash-happy on a night out at the pub, ration your cash on a daily basis. Not only will this stop you getting that final round in and blowing tomorrow's money, it will also allow you to save in advance for a special occasion.
That prawn and avocado salad from the local brasserie might have tasted good at the time, but a homemade cheese and pickle sandwich could be just as tasty at only a fraction of the cost. Packing your own lunch and eating at home are good ways to keep your daily spending in check. Not only can you take advantage of special offers at the supermarket - saving even more money - but you can also eat more healthily.
Thankfully, second-hand clothes are in fashion these days, so you can hold your head up high in a charity shop. This is a good habit to get into that will save you lots of money and become a great habit for life. You can also find great bargains online, not only on clothes but also furniture and just about anything else you might need – see the 'Bargains and discounts' links on the right.
It would be understandable for some people to be a bit cynical about student accounts because of the freebies associated with them, but in actual fact they do offer genuine perks to students. The trick is in how you compare the benefits of different student accounts.
First, you have to work out the value - to you personally - of the freebies and goodies that come with it. A free rail card is worth nothing to you if you only ever drive! But, more importantly, compare the interest rates that they pay you when your account is in credit, and compare the interest they take off you when you're over your interest-free overdraft limit. It's easy to compare the sizes of the interest-free overdrafts they offer, but again, it's down to the individual as to how and when you use this facility.
The biggest mistake to make when you're sharing a house or flat is to think that the everyday finances will take care of themselves. They won't, and could, at worst, cause serious arguments. So, take the initiative and hold a money meeting when you first move in - everyone will respect you in the long run.
Make a list of the consumables that everyone shares, such as tea bags, loo rolls, bin bags and cleaning stuff. Come up with a figure for everyone to put into the kitty every month, e.g. £5. There, job done, one source of bickering well and truly removed.
Have similar meetings to decide the household approach to other finances, like the phone bill, or perhaps how the rent is split depending on the size of rooms.
When you get your money through at the beginning of term, it's tempting to feel rich and to spend accordingly. Remember, it’s got to last until the next term! Use your willpower, resist the urge to splurge, and you'll reap the benefits at the end of term when your account is still in good standing. That's the time for a well-earned celebration.
As well as using your self-control, at the beginning of term you should put your money into things like books and equipment that you'll need for the year or longer, and which will lock your money away from the things you don't.
Think about what you're going to buy, then think where you might get it the cheapest. It’s worth remembering that special offers are not always as good as they sound. Here are some more bargain hunting tips: